Article featured image

These are good times for discerning drinkers. According to the Brewers Association, a trade group that helps support small and independent American brewing, craft brewers produced 22.2 million barrels of good-to-exceptionally-great IPAs, lagers and pilsners in the year 2014. This marked a 22 percent increase in retail dollar value, as well as a 19 percent market share (that is versus the big guys like Budweiser and Coors). The growth in the craft-beer industry is astounding, given that only a few years ago it would take seeking out a very specialized bar or bottle shop to find a draft or sixer of Founders or Firestone Walker.

On the craft-spirits side, a day does not go by that editors at Food Republic don’t encounter some kind of lovingly made small-batch (or whatever you might call it) gin, rum, whiskey or vodka. We’re drinking Vespers mixed with floral aquavit made in San Francisco, and fingers of bourbon produced in the heart of handcraft-y Nashville. The upper Midwest is now a leader in the blooming domestic vodka game, and rum is being made in, of all places, the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Now, anybody who has raised a glass of the good stuff will tell you that small production doesn’t always mean better production, and we’ll all take a bit of Four Roses or Beefeater after a long day at the Internet salt mines. But during this Craft Beer & Spirits Week (our third annual), our hope is to highlight the producers doing it right — and where you can seek out great craft beer and spirits around the country. Below are some of the stories we've run so far: