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8 Breweries to Watch in 2017

8 Breweries to Watch in 2017

These days, it seems anyone with some cash and an interest in brewing wants to open a brewery. Often this leads to average homebrew being poured into growlers and pint glasses around the country. Not always, though. Sometimes these little upstarts come out of the gates with liquid gold. A secret doesn’t stay a secret for long, however, and many of these little breweries will be buzzed about in the not too distant future. Which breweries are worth putting on your radar for 2017? Well, we’d start with these somewhat unknown ones and then proceed to the eight below. These are the breweries we think you’ll be hearing about this year.

Magnify Brewing

Fairfield, NJ

It’s no secret the “Northeast IPA” is king these days, as hazy, juicy hop bombs are becoming taproom staples all over the country. Yet, like every other style, shockingly, they’re not always done well. A place doing them right—really, really right—is Magnify Brewing, a NJ-based brewery who tapped the talents of Erich Carrle, a brewer with experience at KelSo, Speakeasy Ales & Lagers, and Almanac, to bring the vision of founder Eric Ruta to life. Ruta fell in love with the beer scene in Portland, Maine, while away at college and has tried to replicate that quality of beer back home in Fairfield, NJ. The result is a collection of standout IPAs; spicy, fruity saisons; and roast-forward porters. Vine Shine IPA and Low Visibility seem to be the two you have the best shot at getting your hands on, as cans have popped up at select bottle shops, but we’d urge you to hit a can release or at least visit the tasting room for some fresh pours. (Photo: High Falutin Ski Bums) Link

Beer to Try: Peak Oil Imperial IPA

Angry Chair Brewing

Tampa, FL

Earlier this year, we attended the Copenhagen Beer Celebration—which, as the name suggests, was held in Boston. The festival, which was put on by Mikkeller, was a venerable who’s who of breweries. Of all the beers we tasted that evening, the one that stood out the most was Imperial German Chocolate Cupcake Stout from a 2-year-old Florida-based brewery called Angry Chair. That discovery led us to seek out other Angry Chair brews. Guess what? They’ve all been fantastic. What you really want to try from them are their dark beers—stouts, porters, barleywines, and the like. They have a way of making flavors pop, as demonstrated by the aforementioned glass of German chocolate cake, their French Toast Imperial Porter, and other exceptional brews. Link

Beer to Try: Imperial German Chocolate Cupcake Stout

Narrow Gauge Brewing Company

Florissant, MO

Missouri may be home to Anheuser-Busch but that doesn’t mean their craft scene is nonexistent. In fact, there are a lot of promising breweries popping up. To us, none is more promising than Narrow Gauge, a brewery whose offerings are only available in an a little Italian bar and grill. The brewery gets its name from the West End Narrow Gauge railroad, which connected the brewery’s hometown of Florissant to St. Louis in 1878. But while the brewery borrows a bit from the past, their beers are very much current, with juicy numbers reminiscent of the great breweries in the Northeast. So stop in for some chicken parm and some stellar hops. (Photo: Saint Brewis) Link

Beer to Try: Fallen Flag

Brotherton Brewing Company

Shamong, NJ

In the Philadelphia area, Joe Sixpack (aka Don Russell) is one of the most respected names in beer. So it was kind of a big deal when the longtime beer writer selected a fairly unknown brew from a fairly new brewery as his Beer of the Year 2016. That beer is Brotherton’s Imperial Oatmeal Porter—and it’s worthy of the praise. Brotherton is partially the endeavor of Steve D’Eva, a brewer who cut his teeth at Grand Canyon Brewing Company, Urban Family Brewing, and as a chef at Tired Hands. While Brotherton’s beers are distinct, it’s not hard to see the influence the Ardmore, PA, powerhouse has on him. Brotherton brews hazy, juicy IPAs but, while the sample size is limited, they seem to be balanced out by a bitterness that some breweries have started to shy away from. Brotherton is still in their infancy. There’s no tap room or spot to fill a growler. For now you have to hit up one of the bars in Jersey that carries their beers, but that’s very much worth doing. Link

Beer to Try: Drip Down

Great Notion Brewing

Portland, OR

After one whiff of Blueberry Muffin, Great Notion’s wild ale designed to smell and taste like a blueberry muffin, we were hooked. The aroma exploded out of the glass. After that first beer we would tear through plenty of offerings from the Portland, Oregon, brewery, with each being equally exceptional. Personal favs include: the aforementioned Blueberry Muffin, Juice Box, Juice Jr., Double Stack, and many, many others. That’s not bad for a seven barrel brewery in the heart of one of America’s great beer cities. Stop in for a crowler or six. Link

Beer to Try: Blueberry Muffin

Moonraker Brewing Co.

Auburn, CA

The Northeast IPA trend has quickly made its way cross country. If you need proof just look at the previous entry, Monkish, and these guys, Moonraker. While they offer up an IPA called Outrigger West Coast IPA, the brewery’s bread and butter is a juicy, cloudy citrus bomb. The brewery, which only opened its doors mid-2016, has quickly made a name for itself in trading circles for Yojo, one of their exceptional IPAs that packs notes of orange sherbet and fruit juice.  Link

Beer to Try: Yojo


Columbia, SC

And now for something completely different. As more and more breweries compete to make the best of what’s trendy, it’s refreshing to see a brewery go the opposite route. Bierkeller, which opened in Columbia, South Carolina, in early 2016, isn’t doing juicy IPAs and barrel-aged coffee stouts; they make traditional German beer—and they do it really, really well. Inspired by a student exchange trip to Bamberg, Germany, Scott Burgess took in the early 90s, Bierkeller replicates the flavorful but highly drinkable styles Germans knock back in beer gardens all summer long. The experience is recreated perfectly, and you’ll be damn close to buying some lederhosen after a visit. As the IPA arms race ensues, man, sometimes you just want to kick back on a warm night and enjoy a Kellerbier with some friends. We’d appreciate more places like this. Link

Beer to Try: Kellerbier

Equilibrium Brewery

Middletown, NY

Brewing is all about math and science. So why wouldn’t you want a few former MIT students at the controls? Equilibrium Brewery is the brainchild of a few environmental engineers from the legendary Cambridge school. They focus on applying scientific knowledge and rigorous testing to every beer that flows from their taps. And guess what? Science works! The beers are fantastic. While you can only find their offerings at select accounts now, a retail shop and partner restaurant slated to open soon. Link

Beer to Try: mc²

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