Prairie Artisan Ales (address and info)
People go crazy over their subtly named BOMB! imperial stout and its variants (if you can get your hands on the aptly named rum barrel-aged Pirate BOMB!, do so). It's not just about its stout game, though, as well-executed sours like the dry-hopped Funky Gold Amarillo are also worth seeking out. Luckily, Prairie's distribution has grown prolifically in recent years, so that it's increasingly within reach for more people who may not actually live near a prairie.
The Commons Brewery (address and info)
It’s not just tough picking the best brewery in Oregon. It’s tough picking the best brewery in the neighborhood that our selection, The Commons, calls home, what with the likes of Upright, Cascade Barrel House, and Hair of the Dog all in the same vector. Yet The Commons has upped the ante in the six years since its brewer went from a garage-based nano operation to bigger digs, with its beloved Urban Farmhouse ale and the foudre-aged Flemish Kiss brett ale standouts among the Belgian-heavy lineup. But it’s in the winter -- when the rain falls unrelentingly on Portland -- that the seasonals really kick into gear, highlighted by the February release of Brotherly Love, a 10% dark strong ale loaded with cherries and fancy cocoa nibs from neighboring Woodblock Chocolate. Oregon’s scene is constantly in flux, and the best brewery in the state changes regularly. But right now, The Commons is leading the pack, eschewing the region’s hop obsession for something a little more layered and a little less bitter.
Victory Brewing Company (address and info)
The toss up for Pennsylvania supremacy between Troegs and Victory is a dead heat for so many reasons, not the least of which is each brewery’s devotion to a maintaining a solid lineup of core products while still pumping out memorable one-offs that are free from gimmicks or over-hype. We hand the victory to Victory here because of releases like Kirsch Gose, a cherry-kissed sour seasonal, fantastic takes on lesser-appreciated styles like their Moonglow Weizenbock, and the impressive success rate of their Blackboard special release series (we’re looking at you, Oatmeal Hazelnut Porter).
Proclamation Ale Company (address and info)
The best part about being known for being the small guy is that when you do something big, everyone gives you even more credit. In the case of Rhode Island beer, Proclamation deserves as much love as you can muster (even if it was a truly neck-and-neck call with Grey Sail). Beers like their Derivative IPA/APA series (especially the Citra) are as juicy and inviting as hell, and It’s Going to Be OK Pheel Stout and the Adelia Saison sing out as highlights in a truly badass lineup.
Westbrook Brewing Co. (address and info)
Hold whatever your opinion is on salty, sour beer for just a second and take in the fact that a small brewery like Westbrook has been able to spring up and become one of the hottest breweries in the South in practically no time. Now consider their mastery of beers that go way beyond the sour/salty variety, like Mexican Cake Imperial Stout, their Two Claw IPA, or hell, even their core White Thai witbier, and you should realize that they easily pump out the consistently best beer in South Carolina.
Crow Peak Brewing (address and info)
For the better part of the decade, Crow Peak -- located in the small canyon-adjacent town of Spearfish -- has quietly been making the best damned beer in SoDak, with its 11th Hour IPA laying the foundation for a program that has slowly expanded to include everything from maibock to the heavy Pile O’ Dirt Porter. Nothing super fancy here, though. Just damn fine beer from a brewery hidden away in the flurry of Harleys, Rushmore-bound tourists, and cascading hills.