People have always liked to drink beer, but consumption is taking on all new levels of interest. Craft beer is taking off all across America because it’s receiving tremendous attention with new distribution channels and social media. Rather than look far and wide for information, we figured we’d take the information to you. Today we start a new series on BroBible, highlighting the best breweries in each major college conference. First up on the dial is the SEC because no conference has better looking girls therefore the guys need to make sure they’re sufficiently inebriated with liquid courage to push forward.
Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia
Creature Comforts Brewing Company
We start our brewery tour in Athens, which certainly doesn’t lack for options. Terrapin makes some damn good beer, but Creature Comfort, located in the heart of downtown Athens, has made an impressive recent run to pull ahead as the local choice. It’s arguably the best brewery in the SEC these days and you’ll see why when you have Tropicália, their American IPA. Thankfully you’ll be able to find it year-round to quench your thirst. Those looking for something refreshing should try a Cucumber and Lime Tritonia available in April-May. The bourbon drinkers out there need to grab a pint of See The Stars, a limited release Russian Imperial Stout aged in Maple Bourbon Barrels. The brewery is open for visits from 5-8 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday and their tasting room has five beers on tap, including the Tropicália to try.
Auburn, Alabama: Auburn University
Red Clay Brewing Company
You’ll have to travel about twenty minutes northeast of campus to find Red Clay, the only brewery close to Auburn University. Tigers’ fans can feel proud as the brewery is run by a couple of Auburn alumni and their business partner. They traveled the country to educate at other breweries themselves before diving in firsthand. The beers are named after Alabama history with the Hay Shed Saisson being the best seller. The brewery promotes an Imperial IPA named Hop Jubilee packing 8.5% alcohol as the one for beer snobs to try. The tap room is open Thursday and Friday nights as well as most of the day on Saturday.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana: LSU
Parish Brewing Company –
The obvious connection with the Baton Rouge area is the food at LSU tailgates, but the local beer options are enjoyable as well. You’ll find fewer options of beer types than you’d fine jambalaya types around Baton Rouge, but there are some enjoyable varieties from Parish Brewing Company’s limited supply. The tap room is open every day, but Sunday for at least six hours a day, so you’ll have plenty of time to travel the hour to get there if you can’t find it in town. The Double American IPA known as Ghost in the Machine will have you seeing ghosts after you down a few of the 8% beers, but that’s a good thing. Blow through a Dr. Hoptagon, an American Black Ale, afterwards and it’ll fix you right up.
Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri
It’s a tough call determining the best brewery in this SEC town, but we’re giving the nod to Broadway Brewery because of their more diverse varieties. The brewpub in downtown Columbia is located just north of campus and serves up 10+ beers on tap regularly. It’s not as heralded as some other breweries in the area, but its Backyard BBQPA, an amber ale made with a mix of beechwood and cherrywood smoked malts, or its Black IPA, an IPA with chocolate and coffee notes, makes it more unique than the rest of the local breweries. The best part is that Broadway Brewery open every day during the week because it’s a restaurant, so it’s really easy to access their inventory.
Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina
Conquest Brewing Company
We’re going to ignore the logo and the artwork from Conquest that makes you crave a nice chunk of meat and a jousting match at Medieval Times. The South Carolina brewery, located a short 10-minute ride from campus, offers four beers year round and another ten either seasonally or with a limited release. Those into a sweet taste will enjoy the Medusa Stout, which gives you the flavors of both a chocolate and a milk stout. The Sacred Heart IPA provides more tropical and fruit flavors. Tours are offered every day of the week, so head down a grab a flight of your favorite choices.
College Station, Texas: Texas A&M University
New Republic Brewing
The choices in College Station are limited, so you’ll like find yourself ending up at New Republic brewing for your craft beer needs. It’s been around for five years and you have to applaud anyone who used Kickstarter to help get its business off the ground. You can find their brews in Spec’s & Twin Liquor store in and around Bryan and College Station, but also at places like Whole Foods in Houston. Have you ever had a Sweet Potato Porter before? There’s a reason Windlass, New Republic’s version, is one of their best acclaimed beers. And remember how I mentioned they used Kickstarter for help fundraising? That’s not the only way it helped as their supporters also chose the Belgian Tripel style, Warimono, to be the summer season choice. The tap room is open from 5-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and is located just ten minutes away from University Avenue, so throw some back while enjoy tunes from the band.
Fayetteville, Arkansas: University of Arkansas
Apple Blossom Brewing Company
There’s been a brewing explosion in Fayetteville in recent years, but Apple Blossom Brewing Company comes out on top. The Brewpub opened back in 2013 and serves up about 15 beers on tap. Pumpkin beers have been around for a while, but Apple Blossom’s Hay Ride Chocolate Pumpkin Porter combines the two things everyone enjoys (pumpkin and chocolate if you weren’t following along) to make a great holiday brew. The Hazy Morning Coffee Stout is also a winner. The 200+ seat restaurant is open daily, so travel ten minutes north of campus to check this one out.
Gainesville, Florida: University of Florida
Swamp Head Brewery
You wouldn’t expect anything less than the best brewery in Gainesville to be named after the nickname of its football stadium. Swamp Head Brewery is located about a 10-minute drive from campus if you can’t seem to find it at your local store. Swamp Head usually puts out about 80+ types of beer with its Russian Imperial Stouts under the Catherine’s naming (Catherine’s Wood, Catherine’s Passion, Catherine’s Inspiration, etc.) getting the most positive reviews. Those are only seasonal releases, so look for its American IPA (Big Nose IPA) and its American Stout (Midnight Oil Stout). Swamp Head Brewery does tours three times on Tuesdays and four times on Saturdays and Sunday for a cost of $5. You’ll get a full beer in a pint glass that you’ll take home to your kitchen, so it’s a nice way to pass the time.
Knoxville, Tennessee: University of Tennessee
Alliance Brewing Company
You’ll find the best brewery in Knoxville just a five minute drive from campus. The beer scene has been in town for a while, but Alliance Brewing Company just edges out Crafty Bastard Brewery and Last Days of Autumn Brewing. You might be a little surprised when you find out their location used to be a laundromat, but the only suds you’ll see are in your pint glass. The new brewery can fit 80 people inside their tap room with another bunch outside on the patio. The Kölsch is a standard german style lager is refreshing and the Oatmeal Stout is also a crowd pleaser. They’re not open on Monday, but that leaves six other days’ worth of drinking.
Lexington, Kentucky: University of Kentucky
Ethereal Brewing Co.
Kentucky is known as bourbon country, but there are some darn good craft beers down here as well. It’s neck and neck between Ethereal Brewery and Country Boy Brewing when it comes to beers in Lexington, but we’ll give the edge to Ethereal. Serving up over 10 different varities, Ethereal focuses mostly on Belgian farmhouse and American craft beers. Its Lambda Oatmeal Stout is well regarded and who doesn’t want to drink a beer called No Talent Ass Clown, Ethereal’s American Wild Ale. The tap room is open from 4-11 p.m. on weekdays and for either 11 or 12 hours starting at noon on Friday through Sunday.
Nashville, Tennessee: Vanderbilt University
Yazoo Brewing Company
Everyone associates Nashville with country music, but the craft beer scene is one of the best in the SEC. The Gulch is the hip area for business in Nashville these days, so it should be no surprise that Yazoo’s located there. There are many standouts from Yazoo’s line of beers including their Gerst Amber Ale and their Dos Perros American Brown Ale. Their new Daddy-O Pilsner is light and crips while not having a heavy bitter bite like some other pilsners. Their ever-evolving Hop Project is cool too because the hops they use change by season and batch with our favorite being one that had Australian or New Zealand hops providing a tropical flavor. They sell brewery tour tickets via their website and the tap room is open for at least four hours Wednesday through Saturday.
Oxford, Mississippi: Ole Miss
Yalobusha Brewing Company
There’s only one game in town when it comes to craft beer in Oxford and that’s no surprise if you’ve ever been to the tiny town. Yalobusha Brewing Company is a 25-minute car drive from Oxford and has been brewing since 2013. They chose the location because of the building, which was something they couldn’t find in Oxford. Yalobusha only delivers six different types of beer at any given time and distribution is limited to Northern Mississippi. Beer fans have heard of Abita in Louisiana, where one of the owners learned his trade. The Copperhead Amber Ale gives you a nutty note with a gentle hop balance and the River Ale, an American Pale Ale, is known to be sold out at times when visiting various locations because of the demand. They open up to the public for eight hours every Friday with a $10 charge for sampling and a tour. Stick around until 6 p.m. and you’ll get some live music too.
Starkville, Mississippi: Mississippi State University
Mayhew Junction Brewing Company
Like with its hated rival up north, Starkville only offers one local brewery as well. Aligning with our original intention in the opening, Mayhew Junction Brewing Company brews beers for the purpose of socializing with members of the opposite sex. That’s our kind of mantra. They have plenty of beers to do so with 15 different offerings of highly amusing names. How can you not easily open a conversation with a girl by referencing your bottle of La Saison de Chihuahua, a Jalapeno Saison, or your pint of Chocolate Hookup, Mayhew’s Milk Stout? It’s only been open since January of 2016, so be one of the first people to splurge the $10 for a six-ounce sample glass to test six of their different beers. You’ll also get an explanation of the brewing process and the ingredients.
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: University of Alabama
Druid City Brewing
Our final SEC city is my personal favorite for a college football experience, but it also has a few breweries to bounce around as well. It’s a tough call between Black Warrior Brewing Company and Druid City Brewing, but I’m siding with the latter. Druid City Brewing is in a shopping center just a short walk or drive from Bryant-Denny Stadium and has its tap room working each day of the week. The variety is limited, but the quality isn’t. Their newest beer, Lamplighter IPA, gives you some floral and tropical flavors while their Downtown North Porter, an American Porter, bombs your palette with chocolate and vanilla flavors.