2015 was the biggest year for beer. No, literally: America now has more functioning breweries than it ever has before, finally topping pre-Prohibition numbers. This means very, very good things for us all, namely in the form of more beer for everyone, everywhere! But behind the massively impressive numbers, there are a lot of bigger stories. We’ve seen one-time homebrewers ascend to national popularity, or tiny nanobreweries explode and become legendary. What used to take breweries over a decade to achieve is happening in less than a year.
These are the next-wave breweries you’ll be making road trips to visit in 2016, whose beers you’ll scour trading sites for, and who you’ll be hearing about from friends returning from vacation. Some are making the move from small brewing operations to regional distribution, while others are making a name for themselves in other countries with collaborations and select exports. You’ll notice a trend with most of the breweries on this list (mostly, they’re all expanding). Think of this as the incoming draft class to the beer big leagues.