If you compiled all of the headlines covering craft beer over the past 12 months and gave your summation on the state of the industry, you might grumble something about a Bob Dylan song in between sips of your Flavortown spiked fruit punch. And, you wouldn’t be wrong (unless, of course, you crushed a can of said hard juice and celebrated by yelling “whiz bang wow”). After years of infallible steering, the American Brewing ship is now navigating some choppy waters, and the challenge will be staying the course in an increasingly crowded sea of competitors and rising closures, sometimes unceremonious. (No one expected the Anchor to drop.)
Yet amid this talk of doom and gloom, hundreds of hungry upstarts still enter the chat each year — according to preliminary data from the Brewers Association, 420 new beer makers opened in 2023 — determined to provide a fresh point of view with fresh product, proving their mash paddle worthy among the industry’s elite.
To find the most noteworthy newcomers of the moment, we asked beer professionals — production staff, writers, educators, bar owners, and more — about their favorite 2023 arrivals (breweries that opened in December 2022 as well as existing brands that debuted a physical facility were also eligible for consideration). From a cask focus in the Big Easy to funky fermentations in Philly to Kansas City’s first Black-owned brewery calling a classic jazz district home, these are the breweries you need to know.
Credit: Jake Borden
“One standout among my favorite new breweries of 2023 is Hot Plate, located in Pittsfield, Mass. I had an opportunity to try their beers at the Nashua River Brewers Festival in June, which I was excited about considering their taproom is a couple of hours away from us. Hot Plate caught my attention by offering a cream ale and a Belgian golden strong ale amid the hazies and fruited sours at the festival. It was refreshing to see, and the beers were super clean and true to their respective styles, with the golden capturing everything I love about Belgian beers. Still, it’s Hot Plate’s unwavering commitment to community, a value shared by us at Lost Shoe, that truly sets them apart. They consistently give back, advocate for positive changes locally and in the broader craft beer industry, all while serving as exceptional educators. Their dedication to both brewing classic styles and community engagement makes them a deserving addition to the list of 2023’s top new breweries.” —JP Gallagher, co-owner and head brewer at Lost Shoe Brewing and Roasting Company, Marlborough, Mass.
Credit: GOAL Brewing
“I visited San Diego a few months back and made it a point to visit GOAL. Brewing. Head brewer Derek Gallanosa, who is already a staple in the brewing industry, made the move back home to open the Filipino-owned establishment and continues to create award-winning beers which I was able to taste upon arrival. What did I enjoy the most? I mean aside from the familiar faces, beautiful space, and catching up with Derek over a cold Czech-style pilsner … I enjoyed the inclusivity of it all. If you want great beer and good vibes, look no further: GOAL. is your spot.” —Breeze Galindo, chair of the Michael James Jackson Foundation for Brewing & Distilling mentorship program
“It’s not really possible for mortals to somehow assess more than 500 new breweries scattered across the country and pick out the best. Yet there are a few where it’s relatively safe to place bets. One of those is Derek Gallanosa’s GOAL. in San Diego. In a brewery incubator next to Seek and a few blocks from North Park, there’s no shortage of great beer in the area, yet we know that with Gallanosa we can expect an uncompromising approach to both flavor and balance in the IPAs — be they hazy or San Diego-style — and the imperial stouts, besides whatever other styles he decides to studiously tackle.” —Joe Stange, managing editor at Craft Beer & Brewing
Credit: Blindhouse Beer
“Balanced, lightly tart mixed-culture saison and low-ABV ales that rely on fermentation for complexity are some of my favorite beers to drink, yet are becoming increasingly difficult to find. But Blindhouse opened in Roanoke, Va., this spring, conveniently located on my drive between Asheville and the Northeast, where the majority of my family lives. To drink at their taproom is to be transported to a European farmhouse brewery, reminiscent of the rare stateside experiences one might find at Suarez Family Brewery. Their beers are thoughtful, incredibly balanced, served with intention, and infinitely drinkable. Long live saison.” —Phil Cassella, head of marketing at Burial Beer Co., Asheville, N.C.
Credit: Brewery St. X
“I happened to interview Brewery Saint X beverage director Greg Engert — a partner in the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, behind seminal beer bars Churchkey in D.C. and The Grand Delancey in New York City — about cask beer right around when Saint X was opening in late spring, and as soon as I knew he was bringing his expertly run cask program to New Orleans, a city with a climate that doesn’t always make folks crave cellar-temperature beers, I knew I had to visit. The cask beer was indeed excellent, and even though the space was only a few months old when I was there in July, it already seemed like an integral part of the city’s beer scene: a tight pack of standout breweries balancing tradition and innovation to make an impact in arguably the country’s most famous cocktail destination. Brewery Saint X does, by the way, recognize its surroundings with a cocktail program better than any I’ve ever seen at a brewery, and the food is both a celebration of New Orleans and a selection of excellent accompaniments to their Czech-style dark lager, helles lager, West Coast IPA, and best bitter on cask.” —Courtney Iseman, writer and author of the Hugging the Bar newsletter
Credit: Douglas Lager Beer
“Douglas Lager Beer is the brainchild of Chris Smith and John Marti, brewers and owners of Seattle’s Lowercase, arguably the best lager fermenters in the Emerald City. Named after the region’s ubiquitous fir tree, the ethos of Douglas is to brew honest, easy-drinking American lager made in Washington State. Brewed in the spirit of the industrial lagers of Pacific Northwest yesteryear such as Rainier (now owned by Pabst and not brewed in Wash.) and Olympia (now defunct), Douglas Beer is affordable, bottled in 12-ounce glass, light, crisp, and made with integrity, independent ownership, and ingredients from the PNW. I first drank Douglas in celebration of the first bottling run with the owners and friends inside the historical albeit studio-retrofitted Old Rainier Brewery that beams the iconic red neon R onto the city below. In that moment, old became new in the breaking of the ouroboros of American macro lager. I’ve drank a lot of excellent mixed-ferm saison, fresh-hop IPA, and outstanding lager this year, but nothing tops the meaning and quality Douglas holds for the future and accessibility of Washington and American lager beer.” —Jess Keller Poole, co-founder of Seattle Beer School
North Haven, Conn.
Credit: Schenker Beer
“Schenker, led by industry friend Joey Pepper, specializes in crafting Old World-style beers. Known for his work with the now-closed Folksbier in Brooklyn, Joey’s meticulous attention to detail and passion for lagers shine through in his new brand. I first had Schenker at Human Robot’s Logjammin’ lager festival in Philadelphia and the Hellbier (helles lager) is what I remember: a beautiful golden brew harmonizing bready, crackery maltiness with floral noble hops. If you find yourself in Brooklyn, you might find Joey and his beers at one of my favorite spots, Gold Star Beer Counter.” —Zac Porter, head of sales and marketing at Schilling Beer Co., Littleton, N.H.
Credit: Origin Beer Project
“Origin Beer Project, a personal local favorite of mine, recently opened up their first brick-and- mortar location in Providence, R.I., on the city’s west side. Cheyne and Erika Tessier started Origin during the pandemic as an alternating proprietorship with another local brewery, and I am beyond excited to see them sprout roots of their own. Origin is known for focusing on Old World styles of beer and utilizing unique ingredients in their beers, oftentimes in collaboration with other local businesses (check out the A.M. Ritual coffee porter brewed with Borealis Coffee beans, the same coffee we serve at our shop). What makes Origin stand out to me is their emphasis on low-alcohol beer styles that don’t get the recognition they deserve in the craft market, such as the 3.2 percent English mild, A Past Life, or the 3.5 percent oak-fermented Czech pale lager, Small Victories. That being said, they also brew some of the trendier styles of beer (they have your IPAs and imperial stouts covered), so there is literally something for every beer drinker when it comes to Origin’s portfolio. As a beer consumer and professional myself I’m very eager to see the rise of more sessionable options, and Origin is doing everything right. Keep your eyes open for them.” —Rich Spoehr, manager at Burgundian, Attleboro, Mass.
Credit: Shred Beer
“Zack Frasher and Amy Heller, the craft-beer power couple behind Shred, came out of the gate guns blazing and scored three medals at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, with most submissions being the first brews on a new-to-them system. It was no surprise that these two industry vets could get their beers dialed in so fast. I’m partial to their West Coast IPAs, but everything I’ve had from Shred has been exceptional. Looking forward to seeing them thrive!” —Kelsey McNair, founder and head brewer at North Park Beer Company, San Diego
“As much as I love having a variety of options available, one style that will always be at the top of my list is a well-made, bright, hoppy, bitter West Coast IPA, and the people behind Shred Beer Company really know how to make killer ones. I haven’t explored their lineup nearly as much as I’d like to but I’m certainly looking forward to doing so in the new year.” —Anne Becerra, beverage director at Treadwell Park, New York
Credit: Crooked Culture Brewing
“Crooked Culture opened in the last couple months and I had a chance to swing by a few weeks back. The location reminded me of mountain towns I drove through out West. The brewery itself is one of the best laid out spaces I’ve seen for its size. While not a very large brewery in terms of square feet, it was so thoughtfully done and clearly by an experienced brewer. Every beer I tried was well executed, leaning dry and bitter, which is in line with my personal proclivities. Showcasing a broad range of classic styles, peppering in a couple hoppy offerings for the masses. I’m very excited to see what this brewery does in 2024 and beyond.” —Todd DiMatteo, owner and brewer at Good Word Brewing & Public House, Duluth, Ga.
Kansas City, Mo.
Credit: Vine St. Brewing Co.
“When most breweries launch with core beers, you’ll find the lineup stacked with crowd-pleasing favorites: IPA, hazy, maybe a pale ale, and a pilsner or stout. Rarely have I seen a brewery open the show with a flagship dark lager. But that’s precisely what Vine Street did with Jazzman when they flung open their doors at the end of June in the historic 18th and Vine Jazz District of Kansas City. It’s perhaps a little poetic that Jazzman unfolds in layers, erupting elegantly with roast, cola, and toffee, with a whisper of crisp dark chocolate bravely humming underneath. When Vine Street co-founders Kemet Coleman, Elliott Ivory, and Woodie Bonds Jr. started Missouri’s first Black-owned brewery, they always knew they’d be marching to the beat of their own drum (hence, the dark lager). Right before they opened, I interviewed Coleman, a musician, rapper, music producer, and performer, and Ivory, a former Fortune 100 company engineer whose homebrewing skills caught the eye of Bonds, a somewhat local legend for starting a hip-hop beer festival. Together, all three are laying down one dope track after another, reclaiming and revitalizing craft beer in the cradle of jazz. While Jazzman be-bopped my taste buds, I’m already eagerly awaiting what’s next on the set list for this hot (and cool) new brewery. Just on the cusp of crescendoing, Vine Street already has me calling for an encore.” —Grace Weitz, senior content editor at Hop Culture
“This fall, I had a chance to travel to Kansas City — sorry, I didn’t see Taylor Swift — to check out the city’s burgeoning food and drink scene. In addition to heaping mounds of BBQ and way too many shots of J. Rieger & Co. whiskey, I was introduced to Vine Street Brewing, the city’s first Black-owned brewery that was founded by friends Elliott Ivory, Woodie Bonds Jr., and musician Kemet Coleman. The brewery is located in the city’s classic jazz district, 18th and Vine, inside a historic 19th-century building that once housed the Kansas City Street Department. Through music events and beers like the Jazzman black lager, Vine Street is helping lead the neighborhood’s revitalization. It’s the epitome of a community brewery, a taproom as a modern gathering hub for all.” —Joshua M. Bernstein, writer and author of “The Complete Beer Course”
Credit: Bizarre Brewing
“My favorite brewery of 2023 (almost) is Bizarre Brewing, which opened in December of last year. Colette Boilini and Derek Brown are the owners, and they are putting their impressive Seattle beer experience — the couple worked together at both Fremont and Holy Mountain — to work at their new brewery in the Magnolia neighborhood. They focus on low alcohol and creative beers. The beer and the bright, beer hall-inspired taproom both encourage people to spend some time there drinking a few beers. I’d recommend their one year-round beer, Television People, a kolsch weiss brewed with lemon peel and coriander; or one of the Skitch, a dry-hopped light lager spunded for natural carbonation.” —Rachel Nalley, head brewer at Golden Handle Brewing and co-owner of Community Pint, Spokane, Wash.
Credit: Wailuku Brew Works
“Wailuku Brew Works’ beers are all good, no doubt, but what makes this new brewery the best for me are two things. One, the wide varieties of delicious beverages produced. They make a line of interesting ales and lagers (love their Baywater brown ale), as well as ciders, seltzers, and meads! And, equally as important, the place itself is great. The small yet inviting interior of this pub is beautifully done with a massive live-edge bar made from local mango wood, and the fun and welcoming staff just make the place all that much more inviting. I can hardly wait to hang out there again and put back a few sumptuous pints.” —Fal Allen, brewmaster at Anderson Valley Brewing Company, Boonville, Calif.
Credit: Brujos Brewing
“Sam Zermeño and the Brujos brand are not new to making beer, but with them finally finding a permanent home, it is safe to say Brujos is one of the best to open up a spot in 2023. Sam has an amazing background, coming from the R&D brewpub at Great Notion, and he has been brewing nomadically under the Brujos brand for a few years now. His beers are out of control, and his ability to combine hops and create amazing flavors from them is top tier. Everyone knows I love a good hoppy beer, and boy am I loving Brujos hazy IPA as well as this year’s release of Secular, one of their imperial hazy IPAs, which was one of the best I had the opportunity to try this year. Pairing their amazing beer with the heavy metal aesthetic and you have a match made in… hell? I am so excited for Sam to finally have a home of his own and cannot wait to see what next year brings for Brujos!” —Skip Schwartz, head brewer at WeldWerks Brewing Co., Greeley, Colo.
Credit: RAK Brewing Co.
“For me, 2023 saved the best for last. RAK Brewing Co. just opened its doors on Dec. 15, and is off to a very promising start. Not only is the taproom absolutely beautiful, but they opened with a solid lineup of beers. The two standouts to me are the Kindness Kills hazy IPA and Passion Project sour with passion fruit, guava, and pineapple. Both were delicious and very well crafted. To add to the beauty and great beer, RAK also has an awesome mission. RAK stands for Random Acts of Kindness, which embodies the owner’s philanthropic pursuits.“ —Chris Sands, marketing director at Idiom Brewing Company, Frederick, Md.
Credit: Carbon Copy Philly
“Carbon Copy owner-brewers Kyle Wolak and Brendon Boudwin do it right. Not only do they bring years of knowledge and experience to their brewery and winery, they thrive on the intangibles. Their attention to detail, passion, and ingenuity are apparent in every beer they make. Carbon Copy makes beer for those who love and appreciate it. From their English mild to their classic lagers, IPAs, and tart beers, every single one is exquisite. Their wines are bright, fun, and easy-drinking. Using local grapes in many of them and a low-intervention method fermented with native yeast. The taproom in West Philadelphia is warm and fun and the food is absolutely amazing. These folks brew with their heart and soul and it’s apparent in every sip.” —Lee Lord, head brewer at Narragansett Brewing Co., Providence, R.I.
Credit: Widowmaker Brew
“Our favorite new brewery of 2023 is Widowmaker’s outpost in Brighton, a 10-barrel brewery used for R&D and taproom with a full kitchen that opened in October. The taproom has a quintessential Widowmaker vibe: stoner metal, nostalgic Allston-Brighton show posters, old sci-fi flicks, and plentiful skull decor. Brighton is pumping out equally eclectic styles like the Plague Flowers table beer and Two Hunters Euro pale ale alongside pilot recipe hazies, sours, and lagers. And if the beer alone wasn’t enough, the food from the kitchen run by Bone & Bread is killer with new specials complementing the new beer releases every week.” —Hans Terbush, co-owner and head brewer at Second Wind Brewing Company, Plymouth, Mass.
Credit: Pillow and Oats Brewing
“It takes a lot to stand out in the Hudson Valley beer scene, an area densely packed with breweries at or near the top of the game. It takes something else entirely when you’re a stone’s throw from one of the best. Located less than a quarter-mile from the acclaimed Hudson Valley Brewery, Pillow & Oats has been opened for just over six months and is already turning out some of the best hop-forward offerings in the area. Drool Face Emoji is a double IPA not to be missed. Absolutely a brewery to be on the lookout for.”—Keegan Dombrosky, owner of Haven Beer Company, New Haven, Conn.
Credit: Caius Farm Brewery
“Considering all the craft beer there is to explore in Connecticut, there are very few trips to visit my family that don’t also involve a trip to discover a new brewery. On this past Mother’s Day, with a crew of almost 20 people, we headed to Caius Farm Brewery after a few hours at a nearby winery. Very quickly, Caius became a brewery I knew we’d visit again. Named after the founder and head brewer Caius Mergy, the brewery sits on original farmland and boasts three acres full of intentionality. From the logo choice, the beer names, and Roman-inspired design, I immediately knew I was in for a treat. We all know beer tastes better when other senses are heightened, right? We opted to sit outdoors, which had seating that could be covered and heated as needed. There were many families and pets there that day, easily making it a win for everyone in our group. They also had a food truck on that day, a smart choice for us beer drinkers. As you enter the brewery, you will immediately notice the tall ceilings and expansive clean design as well as decorative pieces throughout. There were 12 taps to choose from and they offered pour sizes ranging from 4 to 14 ounces, adequately priced considering the soon-to-be-discovered quality of the beer. The staff helped me make my choices as they handled the growing line of customers behind us. I started with small pours of Balbilla, a German kolsch-style ale, which gave the crisp, clean, lightly malted taste I needed, followed by Hortensia, a German-style pilsner, tasty, light, and refreshing. I followed with Cleopatra, a New Zealand IPA, which was superbly smooth, clean, and offered the perfect balance of hops, making it incredibly easy to enjoy. I ended with Catallus: Citra, an American IPA which had a well-balanced, light sweetness at the end, and the Brutus IPA, which was just perfect. Quite frankly, we tasted everything on tap that day, which also included a porter, a stout, and a sour. It’s part of my job to taste, discuss, and remember high-caliber experiences like the one at Caius that day. It is obvious Mergy and his staff combined a real passion for high-quality beer and making the brewery accessible to individuals, families, and groups like ours.” —Yahaira Gil Maestro, co-founder of BierWax, Brooklyn
Credit: Tenma Beer Project
“The best new brewery I have come across in 2023 is Tenma Beer Project out of Oakland. I first encountered their beer at a festival in the Bay Area earlier this year and was impressed with the aromas and flavors jumping out of the glass. After looking into their brewery more, I was equally impressed with the dedication to meticulously describe their new releases on their social media platforms, giving consumers an inside look at the production and thought process behind their creations. As an industry professional and avid consumer, I have high hopes for Brennan [Perry, owner and head brewer] and the team.” —Derek Gallanosa, head brewer at GOAL. Brewing, San Diego
“I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy beers from a lot of breweries in my time at East Brother, but Tenma Beer Project is something else. With a mission to ‘rethink and explore the definition of craft beer,’ you bet the brewery made it on my list of places to check out as soon as it opened in April 2023. I recently popped into their taproom and had a pint of What Once Was Timeless. It’s this amazing pre-Prohibition-style American pilsner, and they nail it with flaked corn and Cluster hops; it was spot on! The team consists of Brennan Perry, Dana Martindale, and Debbie Tenma, and they’re like beer magicians, mixing up small batches that are total game changers.” —Jaime Dooley, marketing manager at East Brother Beer Co., Richmond, Calif.
The article The 19 Best New Breweries of the Year, According to Beer Pros appeared first on VinePair.