It’s a good time to be a beer producer and an even better time to be a beer drinker: 2014 was a huge year for American craft beer, which has gotten so big that the term “craft” might not even be appropriate anymore. The number of breweries in the country topped the 3,000 milestone, an all-time high, and small breweries collectively continued to gain popularity and market share from the “big three” of Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors and Pabst. Here are seven breweries to look out for in 2015—some are well-established but making some big moves, some are up and comers, all of them have beer you should get your hands on.
1. Fremont Brewing, Seattle: Washington State breweries took home 10 medals at last year’s Great American Beer Festival, and two of those belonged to Fremont Brewing. With some much-deserved national recognition, a completed brewery expansion and its outstanding portfolio of everything from wild ales to barrel-aged stouts, expect big things from this little brewery in 2015.
2. Bell’s Brewery, Kalamazoo, MI: Bell’s has been a Midwest favorite for decades, churning out classic ales like its rich Kalamazoo Stout and year-round favorite Two Hearted Ale. However, since the brewery recently announced a distribution deal that gains them entry into the Southern California market, West Coasters might finally be able to enjoy Bell’s without making a February pilgrimage to Michigan.
3. Austin Beerworks, Austin: When Austin Beerworks released a 99-pack of its Peacemaker Anytime Ale last August, it was easy to dismiss the promotion as a marketing gimmick. However, the brewery backed up its hype by claiming a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival a few months later with its hoppy Fire Eagle. If demand continues to rise, a 99-pack might not be big enough.
4. Oskar Blues Brewery, Longmont, CO: Not to be outdone by Sierra Nevada and their new East Coast facility, Colorado-based Oskar Blues followed suit by opening a second brewery in North Carolina. One of the largest breweries on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies of 2014, the brewery is in full operation on the East Coast already, with plans for a taproom expansion that include a six-lane bowling alley for customers.
5. 10 Barrel Brewing, Bend, OR: Beer purists in the Pacific Northwest (basically everyone in the Pacific Northwest) were taken by surprise when this Bend favorite was purchased by Anheuser-Busch. Though the purchase might have disappointed some customers, the fact is that A-B will bring its production and distribution clout to 10 Barrel’s already impressive portfolio and make it easier for consumers in other parts of the country to enjoy their outstanding Apocalypse IPA.
6. Toppling Goliath Brewing, Decorah, IA: Iowa is not a state that generally springs to mind when you think about great breweries. But Toppling Goliath, a newer addition to the Midwestern craft beer scene, made big waves in 2014 with great PR and a cult following for beers like its Assassin Imperial Stout. Look for them to put Iowa on the map in 2015.
7. Marble Brewery, Albuquerque: After a few tumultuous years, Marble Brewery is back on solid footing. They’ve been consistently brewing top-quality beers, claiming nine Great American Beer Fest medals in the past four years. But they broke through in a big way in 2014 by taking home the award for Best Small Brewery. Albuquerque is quietly becoming a beer town, and expect Marble to lead the way.