There’s nothing like summer in the South to make you thirsty enough to spit cotton. Most of the country expects us to cool off with sweet tea and mint juleps, but the past decade has seen the South rise among the prestigious craft beer. Previously American craft beer had long been the sole domain of Northern and Midwestern states, but Southern beer makers are gaining ground. Some of these brews are available across the country, but the breweries you can – and should – visit in person.
1. Southern Star Brewing Company // Conroe, Texas
Located in the Piney Woods of Southeast Texas, Southern Star Brewing Co. was founded in 2007. They’re known for being the first craft brewery in the state to offer canned craft beers to consumers. Tours are available every Saturday and includes a tasting of their regular offerings and special seasonal brews.
Buried Hatchet Stout: Dark ale with with hints of coffee, chocolate, toffee and roasted malt with hops bitterness to keep it balanced.
Red Cockaded Ale: Seasonal offering (available in May) named after the endangered woodpecker that makes its home in the woods near the brewery. A deep red ale with citrus, pine and resin in the flavor and aroma.
2. Saint Arnold Brewing Company // Houston, Texas
Saint Arnold Brewing Company was founded in 1994 in Houston, Texas which was at the time the largest city in the country without a microbrewery. They boast the title of “Texas’ Oldest Craft Brewery” and their beers are available in Texas, Louisiana and Colorado. Tours are available every day of the week and include a souvenir glass to take home.
Fancy Lawnmower: A German style Kolsch with a crisp, clean, citrusy flavor
Root Beer: A sweet, old-fashioned, and non-alcoholic root beer made with pure sugar, vanilla extract, and other secret flavorings.
3. Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company // Kiln, Mississippi
The oldest brewery in Mississippi, Lazy Magnolia offers award-winning specialty beers with a decidedly Southern twist. If you can make the trek out to the tiny town of Kiln, you’ll be rewarded with a tasting tour that includes a souvenir glass and a complimentary tour for the designated driver.
Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale: Made with whole roasted pecans, this dark mahogany brew tastes as nutty as you would expect it to.
Southern Gold Honey Ale: This beer was created design specifically for the city of Hattiesburg and is brewed with locally produced honey, providing a gentle and sweet flavor.
4. Cigar City Brewing // Tampa, Florida
Cigar City Brewing combines the Latin culture and tobacco-manufacturing history of the city of Tampa, reflecting the sensibilities and ingredients of Florida. They’ve quickly become a major attraction for craft beer enthusiasts across the country.
Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout: Fans flock to the brewery in March for the one-day release of this 11% ale. Flavored with vanilla beans, ancho chiles, and cinnamon, it’s definitely one of a kind.
Jai Alai: Named after the popular Spanish sport, this IPA has notes of citrus and tropical flowers.
5. Good People Brewing // Birmingham, Alabama
Good People Brewing arrived on the microbrewery scene in 2008 and has quickly become a leading voice in the beer community. They offer five year-round brews, four seasonals, and the occasional specialty brew. Tours are available every Saturday and you can register online.
Coffee Oatmeal Flavored Stout: A big coffee taste balanced with hops, this brew is complex and satisfying enough to be a dessert all on its own.
Snake Handler: This Double IPA brew is their most requested offering and boasts aromas of pine, citrus and flowers.
6. Abita Brewing Company // Abita Springs, Louisiana
Just north of New Orleans, Abita Brewing Company has been around since 1986. The water in their brews comes directly from an artesian well that local legends claim has curative properties. Abita is committed to preserving this natural resource and takes environmental responsibility very seriously. Tours, tasting, and a gift shop are available on site.
Abita Amber: The first beer offered by the brewery, this lager has a smooth caramel flavor and is used frequently in recipes by Louisiana chefs.
Abita Seersucker Summer Pils: This seasonal offering is available from June to September. This light, hoppy pilsner is perfect for cooling off in the hot and humid bayou.
7. Wicked Weed Brewing // Asheville, North Carolina
Wicked Weed Brewing prides itself on its rebel spirit, big flavor, and creativity. And in the craft-beer capital of the world, they’ve done great work in setting themselves apart. They have a huge rotation of over 20 beers with a collection of eccentric flavors.
Hop Burglar: This IPA is brewed with blood orange puree and grapefruit zest. Tart and citrusy and full of hoppy flavor.
Devilwood: This Belgian ale is aged in Kentucky Bourbon barrels for four months. Big American flavor and smooth Belgian aromas.