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The Microbrew Boom in The South

With the unprecedented boom in microbrewing over the past decade, craft brewers throughout the South are challenging the larger  markets with bolder flavors and new fermentation techniques, choosing quality over quantity.

For travelers who love to relax with a local brew wherever they go, visiting these up-and-coming Southern breweries can provide insight into local flavors and traditions, as well as tastes of dozens of interesting and innovative beverages. Here are some top destinations where your group can tap into the latest wave of artisan beers.

Blue Pants Brewery

Madison, Alabama

At Blue Pants Brewery and Tap Room, the Spratley family constantly tweaks its product to produce “unreasonably good beer.” In addition to house favorites and seasonal offerings, the taproom features a full view of the brewery operations. Though the brews alternate throughout the year, some current top picks include American Amber Ale, Weedy’s Double IPA, Wheat with Peach, Pinstripe Stout and Chocolate Oatmeal Porter.

Twice each week, customers can enjoy live music on the brewery’s 4,000-square-foot patio and stage, accompanied by food trucks and their beer of choice from the taproom. The company continues to expand its reach, offering products on draft as well as in 12- and 22-ounce bottles throughout Alabama and Tennessee.

Hogshead Tours

Fayetteville, Arkansas

In 2014, Dustin and Lora Murphy decided to delve into the growing brewery scene in Fayetteville by founding Arkansas’ first beer, wine and culinary tour company. Guests climb into a classic 1970 Volkswagen van, affectionately nicknamed “Vanny,” and enjoy brewery tours and tastings at three different local breweries. In addition to supporting local business, the tour enables beer lovers to experience a variety of unique brewery styles and backgrounds all in one afternoon.

Guests will find a cooler inside the van for purchased growlers, grumblers and six-packs. Hogshead Tours will also pick up and drop off participants at any home or hotel within Fayetteville city limits. Some other available tours include the wine and cidery tour, the farm and food tour, the music and beer tour and the holiday dessert tour.

SweetWater Brewing Company


In 2013, SweetWater Brewing Company was named one of the country’s top 20 craft breweries by the Brew Association. With the slogan “Don’t Float the Mainstream,” former college roommates Freddy Bensch and Kevin McNerny founded SweetWater as a spot where folks could kick back and enjoy a high-quality, original brew.

A few classic offerings are the 420 Extra Pale Ale, the India Pale Ale and the Georgia Brown, made with caramel and chocolate malts. The smooth, blueberry-flavored Blue is always a hit at beer festivals. At different times of the year, patrons can try the Hash Brown, a hop-hash-infused India brown ale, or Squeeze Box, an IPA with tropical hops and grapefruit.

Brewery tours are available throughout the week, and the $10 price includes a complimentary pint glass, six samples of craft beer and a tour of the facility. Groups can rent either the Tasting Room or the Reel Room to host private events.

Paducah Beer Werks

Paducah, Kentucky

In 2014, longtime home brewer Todd Blume transformed an old Greyhound Bus terminal into Paducah Beer Werks, creating a social hub for locals to enjoy craft beer and great food.

Though the company has only been open a few years, its beers have already won various awards at craft beer festivals, including the Pale Ale, the Irish Red and the coffee- and chocolate-flavored Robust Porter. A few seasonal brews are the Nitro Stout, a creamy oatmeal stout, and Orange Blossom, a wheat with hints of crisp orange and honey.

Groups should not forget to try the food as well. The brewery kitchen serves lunch and dinner starting at 11 a.m., featuring dishes like chicken pesto panini, smoked cheddar burger, margherita pizza and honey barbecue wings.