Skip to Content

8 Breweries to Watch in 2018

8 Breweries to Watch in 2018

We don’t want to toot our own horn, but if you look back at our “8 Breweries to Watch in 2017” there are some picks in there that really took off. Equilibrium now draws lines every time they release a beer. Angry Chair’s stouts demand top dollar on the secondary market. Great Notion was the talk of The Great American Beer Fest. We don’t mention this to brag; we mention this so that you’ll pay attention to this list and be one of the people who are plugged in from the get-go. Here are 8 breweries to watch in 2018. 

The Answer Brewpub

Richmond, VA

The Answer burst onto the scene a few years back but has only recently gained the widespread recognition it deserves. What does The Answer do well? Better question is, what does The Answer not do well? The Richmond, Virginia, brewpub churns out next-level IPAs, sours, and stouts. That should come as no surprise to anyone who’s ever stopped by Mekong, the Vietnamese restaurant with a ludicrous tap list. An Bui, founder of The Answer, came from Mekong, which happens to be his family’s restaurant. The Answer really knocks it out of the park with the “Andall” series, which are all beers that have been Randall-ized, meaning they’re poured after running through added ingredients. This leads to sours that taste like fresh fruit sorbet and stouts that taste like candy bars. And with 50+ beers on tap, you’re going to need to make a few trips, so plan your first now. Link

Beer to Try: 3 Scoops

Troon Brewing

Hopewell, NJ

Acquiring beer from Troon will take some work—but, holy hell, is it worth it. Troon sits in a small barn-like structure on the back of a property mostly dominated by a restaurant called The Brick Farm Tavern. Inside the restaurant you’ll find pricey meals and business attire. In the barn you’ll find loud heavy metal music and world-class beer. It’s an odd pairing, but we’re not arguing, as Alex Helms is churning out some the best IPAs and stouts in New Jersey. You can try them by stopping at Troon and buying beer to go (you can’t drink any there), or you can stop in Brick Farm Tavern, as it’s Troon’s only draft account, at least at time of publication. Word has slowly gotten out and lines for crowler releases get a little hectic, especially when you consider it’s in the middle of nowhere and much of the parking is dedicated to the valet service Brick Farm Tavern offers. Beers, it seems, are one-offs, so while we’ll make a recommendation below, it’s best to just go on a Friday night and get whatever they have. If they’re open, that is, as demand sometimes outpaces Helms’s ability to keep beer on. Link

Beer to Try: Mental Kaleidoscope

Weldwerks Brewing

Greeley, CO

Weldwerks has been around for a couple years but only recently started making waves. That’s sometimes the way it goes when your head brewer is a former homebrewer without the industry chops. With a bit of experience, the Colorado-based brewery has begun releasing some award-winning gems. Among them is the Achromatic Imperial Stout series, which has featured a range of variants fans have gone crazy for. Having tasted one of those (Coffee Maple Achromatic), we can tell you the beer is worthy of the hype. While that stout is a winner, Weldwerks is no one-trick pony, as Juicy Bits, the brewery’s New England-style IPA, is a stand out as well. One of the many breweries in the country switching over to Crowlers, Weldwerks can offer you 32 oz. of canned goodness should you stop by. Link

Beer to Try: Medianoche

Tilted Barn Brewery

Exter, RI

Last year we pegged Equilibrium as the next brewery to pick up the Northeast IPA torch. Over the last year, the New York brewery rose to elite level in that category, joining the likes of Tree House, Monkish, and Tired Hands at the top of the game. This year we’re giving you our next pick in the Northeast IPA category, Tilted Barn. Tilted Barn is Rhode Island’s first farm brewery. But don’t think that means Tilted Barn is only brewing farmhouse ales. With ingredients grown on their property, Tilted Barn brews up next-level IPAs that are soft and flavorful. It comes as no surprise that Matt and Kara Richardson know hops, as they founded Rhode Island’s first commercial hop farm back in 2007. This is field-to-glass brewing by people who know hops inside and out, and it shows with every pour. Link

Beer to Try: Cactus

Mumford Brewing

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles has lagged behind its California brethren when it comes to top tier breweries. Mumford Brewing is changing that. Mumford opened in 2015 and has slowly gained a following for its hop-forward offerings. And we’re not just talking IPAs, though those are all fantastic; Mumford dry hops lagers, Bavarian-style wheat ales, and other brews. They also play around with coffee and have gotten pretty good and making espresso beans jump from a porter or stout. One of the things we really love about Mumford is the brewery’s irreverent style, at times opting for Supreme-esque designs. Just like the streetwear brand that draws insane crowds, Mumford releases “box logo” cans that also move rather quickly. Link

Beer to Try: Box Logo (Camo)

Bearded Iris

Nashville, TN

Another brewery doing IPAs right is Nashville’s Bearded Iris, a young brewery determined to brew “elegant” beer. “Elegant” here means soft, approachable numbers that give the Music City residents some variety, as Nashville isn’t exactly a hotbed. They love hops. If you need proof, just look at Patina, the brewery’s double dry-hopped Festbier. Yup, they gave a Festbier the DDH treatment. So if you stop by you can expect to find a lot of hoppy numbers, which is what the kids want these days. And by “kids,” we mean “adults,” because we’re talking about alcoholic beverages. Link

Beer to Try: Attention Please!

Speciation Artisan Ales

Comstock Park, MI

Let’s step away from the hoppy IPAs for a second and give you wild ale fans something to salivate over. Speciation Artisan Ales has burst onto the funky scene and wowed fans. Speciation does not have a taproom, though they sell bottles from their brewery and send beer to certain watering holes, so acquiring beer will require some effort. If you should come across some, you’ll be greeted with extremely complex and intriguing brews. Joining the ranks of American breweries using a coolship (think a large pool filled with wort) to make beer, Speciation Artisan Ales is part of a new wave of American wild ale producers. And while Belgium has long been the land of wild ales, Speciation is really looking to help the U.S. define its place in that subcategory. Link

Beer to Try: Anything from the Incipient Series

Dancing Gnome

Pittsburgh, PA

Don’t look now but the Pittsburgh beer scene is kinda exploding. The Steel City now boasts some of Pennsylvania’s hottest spots, including Brew Gentlemen, Draai Laag, and our pick for this list, Dancing Gnome, a Main Street spot pushing hop-forward beer. The brewery opened late last year and has quickly built a reputation for its IPAs. As is the trend, expect big citrus notes on many beers and hazy, hefty bodies. The sparse, clean taproom has hanging lights, a white tile backsplash, and other accents that make it feel like a trendy cocktail bar, only they’re slinging hops, not bacon-infused old fashioneds. Link

Beer to Try: Nobody’s Robot