Virginia is for beer lovers. Or at least it’s getting there fast. Another state where weird laws (these ones involving how much food you needed to sell, for some God-awful reason) held brewing back for a while, VA’s got some real action going now, from entrenched favorites like Legend, Star Hill, and Devils Backbone, to new kid Smartmouth, whose canned IPA and Saison are (somewhat) specifically designed for you to drink on a boat. But they’re really good on land too! And all this leads to an interesting and telling halo effect: two of its cities -- Richmond and Norfolk -- are amongst the three finalists for Stone’s newest super-brewery/blissful outdoor drinking compound
Louisiana’s another state where the joy to be had drinking beer there outstrips the actual quality of anything produced in-state. Obviously the beer discussion here starts with Abita. Purple Haze sounds more exciting than it tastes, but some of their less widespread releases make up for their more average flagships. If you’re looking for an intriguing up-and coming outfit to keep an eye on, Parish Brewing Co. merits your attention.
Truth be told, a few years ago Oklahoma wouldn’t have placed nearly this high, but the meteoric rise of Prairie Artisan Ales as one of those “holy %&*$ have you tried this” breweries that people cover some serious distance to visit has really raised its profile.
Hey, it’s cold there. Often. Which leaves plenty of time to stay inside and brew. And they do, routinely rating as one of the top states in terms of barrels of craft beer produced per capita. But enough boring stuff! Get your hands on excellent brews like Midnight Sun Berserker, Alaskan Barley Wine, and Anchorage Bitter Monk.
So yeah, it’s a little odd that Maryland’s most prominent craft outfit (Flying Dog), is a Colorado transplant, but the fact remains that the vast majority of the brewery's tasty beer comes out of the Old Line State these days. They’re far from the only game in town, however. Stillwater is doing some seriously impressive work, like a damn-near-perfect Gose collab with Westbrook. Of course, old habits die hard, so the state still consumes plenty of Natty Boh, too.
Big Sky Brewing might be the ambassador for Montana brewing -- Moose Drool being an essential brown, and Ivan the Terrible being a badass of a Russian Imperial -- but with rising stars like Flathead Lake and Bozeman Brewing pouring high-quality wares, Montana’s becoming formidable on the scene. Bozeman will one day be a destination for beer lovers, provided you can deal with the requisite bluegrass music that accompanies your drinking.
Homebrewing, the essential root of all the damn beautiful stuff in this story, has been legal in Alabama for barely over a year. So that’s crazy. Before that, a noble band of beermen toiled under the banner Free The Hops for almost a decade to get the legal ABV limit for any
brewery raised from 6%. But after all that, the boom’s finally on, with the number of breweries doubling basically every year. One of the big deals: Good People, which has really cool cans, and fills them with a splendid double IPA called Snake Handler that would’ve gotten them all very arrested three years ago.
Utah! Get me two! That’s what you used to have to say when you ordered a beer in Utah, because it was mad weak. But outfits like Uinta (13.2% Labyrinth Black Ale) and Epic (11%, damn raisin-y barley wine) are saying eff that, except without cursing, because it’s still Utah. Plus, the 3.2 beer legend isn’t even true -- for one, it’s actually 3.2% by weight, which means it’s in fact a whopping 4% by volume
, and, for two, you just have to avoid the gas station and hit the government-run package store for the real stuff. Or, like, be in another state.
The only state to declare its own separate national beer
and the home to venerable Shiner
, craft beer has truly been exploding in Texas in recent years. Well, that’s been happening basically everywhere, but it’s Texas, so the explosion FEELS bigger. The Sours and Saisons coming out of Jester King are no joke. Wordplay! But for serious, they’re legit. Houston’s Saint Arnold, one of the OG’s of the Texas craft scene, continually turns heads with its special releases. Deep Ellum has been steadily making waves in DFW. Whether or not you’re drinking a Lone Star, it’s a good time to be drinking in the Lone Star State.