We Asked 8 Brewers: What’s the Best New Brewery?
According to the Brewers Association’s latest annual Year in Beer report, over 550 new breweries opened in the United States in 2022. While that number is down slightly from 2021, it’s still an impressive feat given the various social and economic challenges facing the industry in recent times. Despite the strong headwinds of inflation, changing drinking habits, and more, the entrepreneurial spirit that helped build craft beer into a successful commercial world continued, with would-be business owners forging ahead to fulfill their visions.
There has been no greater time to be an inquiring and adventurous beer fan in the U.S., as most adults now live within 10 miles of a brewery. Still, to visit even one-fourth of the aforementioned nascent producers would be nearly impossible. So, how can one stay in the loop of newcomers and next big things — maybe because of innovative moves within the supreme IPA category or cap-tipping to tradition with precisely conventional Czech- and German-style lagers?
To help us navigate the neophyte scene and find what beginning brewers are worth checking out sooner rather than later, we enlisted the help of beer makers from around the country. Our panel of experts were asked to pick their favorite new brewery and share what makes them special. (For the criterion of “new” in this context, we determined that those eligible must have opened in the last 18 months.) Here’s what they had to say.
The Best New Breweries, According to Brewers:
- Wico Street Beer Co.
- MetroNOME Brewery
- Sacred Profane Brewing
- Seek Beer Co.
- Sunday Service Motor Co.
- Birdsmouth Beer
- Inner Voice Brewing
- Meanwhile Brewing Co.
“The best new brewery is Wico Street Beer Co. in Baltimore. Wico joined the Pigtown neighborhood in 2022 and brought with it creative and unique sour beers that diversify the beer selection in the rapidly growing brewery district. Speaking Cursive, a sour double IPA with notes of raspberry and white chocolate, showcases co-founder and head brewer Jordan McGraw’s sour brewing expertise. Being close to the stadiums calls for a lower ABV when the Ravens play. and Wico’s American lager Steez is perfect to pick up at the jockey box they set up outside for foot traffic on your way to the game. Their video game-themed taproom with dope murals throughout is the perfect complement to their beer styles as well as the Baltimore brewing scene.” —Kate Conway, owner, Pickett Brewing Company, Baltimore
“MetroNOME is a brewery focused on bolstering the Twin Cities’ music education programs, donating portions of their proceeds to numerous groups in the metro while also offering some of the most diverse live music you’ll find in any taproom around these parts. I love that they offer a space for aspiring young musicians to step into the music industry, and that they have plenty of returning acts so you can always count on some solid jazz or Spanish guitar when your soul needs it. On the beer front, I recommend anything with a punny name, like the Two-Pac West Coast IPA if you’re looking for that classic piney bite and caramel color, or Paganini’s Italian Pilsner for some lighter fare, crisp and clean, and lightly spicy. These folks opened up their doors around a year ago with a mission, and I can’t wait to see where they continue to go with it in the coming years.” —Riley Yawn-White, brewer, Nine Mile Brewing, Bloomington, Minn.
“If you asked me to design my ideal brewery, it would look an awful lot like Sacred Profane. They may have only opened this past summer, but head brewer Brienne Allan and director of operations Michael Fava bring over 25 years of combined brewing and brewery operation experience from several world-class establishments to their unique tank pub and brewery in coastal Biddeford, Maine. They don’t rely on all the stereotypical tropes of the modern-day hype brewery bound to burn out after the novelty wears off. Rather, they brew just two deceptively simple beers — pale lager and dark lager — and do so with an attention to detail and commitment to authenticity rarely observed outside of the Czech Republic. I would urge anyone who appreciates a thoughtfully designed space and the subtleties of finely crafted lagers to go see what they’re up to.” —Tim Curran, head brewer, Upper Pass Beer Company, Tunbridge, Vt.
“My vote definitely goes to Seek Beer Co. in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego. The beers are stellar across the board, regardless of what style a drinker may be looking for. Dave Ohmer, the owner and head brewer, has 20-plus years of beer industry and brewing knowledge under his belt, and it shows. Dave is not only a diverse and adaptive brewer when it comes to ingredients, flavors, and styles, but is also very mechanically competent and hosts an intense and driven work ethic — a triple-threat combo that is rare and very sought-after in this industry. Beer aside, Dave, his wife Niki, and the entire team at Seek are some of the most genuine and pleasant people you can meet. Stop by Seek Beer Co. if you can, and if you can’t, get your hands on some cans.” —Liam Wynn, brewer, Solaris Beer & Blending and Wolf King Brewing, Murrieta, Calif.
“Sunday Service Motor Co.‘s motto is ‘Keep Your Motor Running,’ which they do with coffee, beer, and a community motorcycle garage. The coffee is roasted on-site by another new company, Garden Company Coffee. They brew their own beers on a one-barrel system, so they’ve only put out three since opening in November: a porter (Motor Oil), a coffee stout (No Brainer), and a cream ale (Easy Street). I think Sunday Service is great because they’re all about community, and they stand behind it. They offered their space and knowledge to my chapter of the Pink Boots Society for an educational event. They’ve completed one collaboration brew and have one more on their schedule so far. They have guest taps and will continue to reach out locally to keep their taps full. They have a certified mechanic on-site twice a week to answer questions and help with projects on motorcycles along with monthly group rides, local vendor pop-ups, food trucks, yoga, MTG game nights, and music.” —Kristy Bounds, cellar technician, Steel Bender Brewyard, Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, N.M.
“In my free time, I love exploring other breweries and trying their beers, especially clean, low-ABV beers. A coworker told me about a new brewery that opened in Oceanport, N.J., called Birdsmouth Beer. At Birdsmouth, they specialize in balanced, low-gravity lagers. My personal favorite is the Original Lager. In addition, they have three more core lagers to choose from: a hoppy pilsner, dark lager, and a seasonal bock. As a brewer who loves the art of brewing lager myself, I thought it was genius but risky to open a low-ABV lager brewery in New Jersey. The state already has extremely strict laws that aren’t in favor of small breweries. In the modern-day beer era, most people seek hazy, New England IPA breweries that have the ability to serve food in the taproom. New Jersey doesn’t allow food to be prepared and sold directly from the brewery to its patrons. But it’s extremely refreshing to see the success and rejuvenation of lager breweries on the rise, and Birdsmouth Beer fits in with the best of them.” —Nick Carnicelli, head brewer, Gentle Giant Brewing Company, Pearl River, N.Y.
“One that comes to mind other than us is Inner Voice Brewing in Decatur. Only been open for a bit, since fall of 2021, but the level of display has already been impressive — from a strong IPA game to delicious lagers and stouts. Their Quality Time Kölsch is excellent. The design and vibe is inviting with some pretty damn good pizza on site as well.” —David Grace, head brewer, Nocturnal Brewing Company, Hayesville, N.C.
“No hesitation: Meanwhile Brewing in Austin, Texas, is my pick. Their gorgeous taproom sits on four acres and includes a soccer field, a handful of amazing food trucks, and a sizable playground for kiddos. Foremost, they produce some of the best lagers and IPAs in Texas. In their short time being open, just over a year, the production team has secured about a half-dozen medals and awards, several of those from the Great American Beer Festival. Meanwhile is a must visit every time I’m in Austin. I’m always excited to see what’s new there.” —Rey Duque, brewer, Künstler Brewing, San Antonio