Everyone knows the South has some of the best food on the planet. From white-tablecloth spots on King Street in Charleston to ’cue shacks in the Texas Hill Country, the flavors of our region have helped shape the culinary scene nationwide. Now we’re duplicating the success with beer.
Southerners took awhile to get on the bandwagon of handcrafted brews. In many states, regulations made brewing and selling innovative beer difficult. Now that many of those laws have loosened, breweries and brewpubs are popping up in cities from Texas to Maryland, and handcrafted varieties with uniquely Southern ingredients such as pecans and sweet potatoes are showing up on the shelves of groceries all over.
Nowhere is the change more evident than in Asheville. With a tenth brewery now open, the North Carolina town has more microbreweries per capita than any other American city. Asheville also hosts five beer-focused festivals (Brewgrass, Oktoberfest, Baseball and Beers, BeerCity BrewFest, and Winter Warmer).
In Atlanta, brewpubs such as Hop City, The Porter Beer Bar, SweetWater Brewing Company, 5 Seasons Brewing Co., and the legendary Brick Store Pub have reinvigorated the beer scene.
In Austin, the same resurgence is underway at North by Northwest Restaurant and Brewery, Uncle Billy’s Brew & Que, and Draught House Pub & Brewery.
Wherever you are in the South, you’re more likely than ever to find great breweries. Here, four of our favorites.
Southern Star Brewing
Cans are now all the craze for freshness, and Southern Star satisfies with their expanding 12-ounce six packs line, including Pine Belt Pale Ale, Bombshell Blonde, and Buried Hatchet Stout. Located about 40 miles north of Houston in the small town of Conroe, the brewery made its first batch of ales in 2008. southernstarbrewery.com
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company
Mark and Leslie Henderson founded Mississippi’s first and only brewery since Prohibition in 2004. Hurricane Katrina interrupted their production for a while, but since resuming business in October 2005, the couple has built a loyal regional following for their beers such as Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale (thought to be the first beer in the world commercially brewed with whole roasted pecans). Lazy Magnolia’s Jefferson Stout uses sweet potatoes as one ingredient. lazymagnolia.com
Cigar City Brewing
Tampa native Joey Redner made beer, sold beer, and wrote about beer before opening his microbrewery in 2007. Joined by brewmaster Wayne Wambles, Joey uses local ingredients to turn out a variety of flavors such as Guava Grove, a pale-colored, Belgian-style ale fermented with guava for a sweet, spicy taste; Jai Alai India Pale Ale with flavors of apricots and peaches; and Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale with hints of caramel and toffee. cigarcitybeer.com
Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery
Farmville, North Carolina
Duck-Rabbit’s founder Paul Philippon, a former philosophy professor, started brewing dark beers in 2004. Paul based his unusual Duck-Rabbit logo on an optical illusion he found in a book. “Dark beers tie into the logo because they play with people’s expectations,” he says. “Some people have preconceived ideas of what a dark beer is.” His smooth-as-silk Milk Stout reminds his customers what a great dark beer is all about. duckrabbitbrewery.com