Must Try Breweries of the AAC
People say a lot of things about the American Athletic Conference. Some say, like those within the conference, that it’s a Power 6. Others insist it’s a Group of 5. “The football is sub par, the basketball isn’t competitive.” What’s the Big 12 doing? Does the Big 12 know what it’s doing? No one really wanted to go to Iowa that many times anyway. While March draws closer we’ll have to wait to see how many teams get a bid to the Big Dance but UCF was the National Champions in football, went undefeated, and dominated Auburn so take that.
Regardless of all of those talking points out of the American one of the things AAC fans should be talking about is some of the cool cities we can travel to for away games. I mean New Orleans, Memphis, Cincinnati, and Orlando all have great things to offer traveling fans.(So let’s decide to have the AAC Tournament in Hartford, CT almost every year! More on that at another time.)
So for you traveling Bearcats fans, or any fans traveling to watch your team in the American we thought you should know which places in each city to stop and grab a pint or six of local deliciousness. We researched and put together a formula and picked out one brewery in each city for you to make sure you visit on your next road trip to watch your team. The formula? Beer Advocate rating + Untappd Rating + a bonus for close proximity to campus (for easy navigation) = making it on this list + a double bonus if we’ve already had beer from or have been to one of these breweries.
Here we go:
Annapolis, MD – Navy
Chesapeake Brewing Co. If you’re in town good luck against the triple option. I’d check this place out before you get ran all over. It’s one of the few places in the area that brews their own beer and has a good selection of food. Their owner is a graduate of the Naval Academy. If I’m there I’m definitely trying the Oyster Stout and of course the BEAT ARMY Golden Lager. They host a handful of events through out the year. Patrons had good things to say about this one too.
“Great brewery with good selection of brews, owner and family are super nice people. A must if you are visiting Annapolis.”
Cincinnati, OH – University of Cincinnati
Rhinegeist. It was hard picking one brewery from the hometown but if one brewery captures the city best I think it’s this one. Located in Over-The-Rhine it’s a short drive to campus. The building and architecture is a must see and the beer is top notch. They host all kinds of crazy events to days featuring animals from the Cincinnati Zoo and a wild German Costume contest you’d have to see to believe. I’d also venture to say Rhinegeist is one of the best in state of Ohio. I suggest you have a Truth.
Dallas, TX – Southern Methodist University
Peticolas Brewing Co. In its first year of operations, Peticolas Brewing Company won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) for its Royal Scandal, an English pale ale, a second one a year later for its Great Scot! A Scottish Ale, and a silver medal for It’s Always Something, a Belgian Strong Ale in their third year. So what does that mean? It means they have some awesome beer available for you to try the next time you’re in Dallas!
Greenville, NC – East Carolina University
Trolling Wood Taproom & Brewery. This microbrewery has a pretty cool history. They’re housed in a completely remodeled building that dates back to 1924. The brewer is a graduate of ECU and they operate on a 3 Bbl system, which is basically the smallest system you can have for a commercial operation. What does that mean? Small batch beer that comes out just the way you want it every time. They have a solid patio and live music regularly. It looks like locals love this place which is always a good sign.
“Awesome brewery. I had a great experience here. Owner/brewer is super friendly and knows his beer. The beer was great and the atmosphere was really chill. If you are a beer geek and you don’t hit this brewery up when you are in Greenville, you are missing out.”
Houston, TX – University of Houston
Spindletap Brewery. When you think of Texas what do you think of? … I think of high school football, the beard of James Hardin, and Oil. The last of which is where this brewery finds its heritage and start. Just read the story on their website. They have all all star line up of beers that they can and serve up fresh in the tap room. Special events and food trucks are there all the time. It isn’t Texas Tea, it’s better, it’ Texas craft beer done right.
Memphis, TN – University of Memphis
Ghost River Brewing Co. Memphis, TN is a cool place to visit. It gets called a more tame New Orleans and while I don’t know about all that it is serving up some great beer. Memphis beer is also very interesting because every brewery there uses water from the The Memphis Sand Aquifer because it is purified naturally through 850 feet of fine sand and natural quartz. How cool is that? Ghost River cans or bottles some of its beers too so if it’s football season load up before heading out to tailgate.
New Orleans, LA – Tulane University
Parleaux Beer Lab. With everything there is to do in New Orleans make sure to add this to your itinerary before you forget you made one and can’t remember where Bourbon St is anymore. (Hint: you’re already on Bourbon St.) This micro-brewery is located in the Bywater community in New Orleans. They have an ever changing beer line up on the taps because this place really is a beer laboratory. They love to experiment!
“This is a really great craft brewery. Great beer selection, chill atmosphere, and a fantastic patio. I’m from Atlanta but if I was local I have a feeling this would be a regular stop.”
Orlando, FL – University of Central Florida
Ellipsis Brewing. Now if you’re a basketball fan this is an important one because the 2018 AAC basketball tournament is hosted by UCF. When you’re there stop by this place. It’s probably the most recently opened brewery on the list but that shouldn’t discourage you. It’s a two story building that houses a 10 Bbl system. They’re already very popular and have added a stronghold of beer in a newly found beer scene in Orlando. They’re a quick drive from the airport and offer a wide variety of beer.
I recently had the opportunity to drink a couple of their beers. The Fruit Punch Project is out of this world! It’s a must try for any craft beer fan.
“Came from out of town expecting an average brewery with average beer and I was blown away. Great brews, great staff and felt right at home. A definite must visit!!!”
Philadelphia, PA – Temple University
Crime and Punishment Brewing Co. This place is cool and it’s located in Philly’s Brewerytown neighborhood. Seems fitting doesn’t it? The beers are unique and the food is Russian inspired. This place aims to mix the once great local brewing tradition with the new age of craft beer techniques and international influences. They’ve brewed a little known style of beer they call The Grod Inquisitor. Grodziskie, they say “the beer originates from 14th century Poland and is brewed with 100% oak smoked wheat, and is often soured. They utilize a technique called kettle souring to achieve this desired subtle tartness. Smells of smoked ham and alfalfa bring way to a taste of cloud like sausage lemonade, which finishes with a crisp, dry airiness similar to a brisk wind blowing through your arm hair.”
Stoors, CT – University of Connecticut
Willimantic Brewing Co. I wasn’t sure what I’d find in looking for a brewery in the area but with a short drive from Stoors down to Willimantic you’ll find this brewery housed in an old US Post Office from 1909 to 1967 it sat empty for 30 years until they showed up and started brewing. They brew on a 7 Bbl system and produce a lot of good beer. You’ll feel at home in a cozy atmosphere add some food and you’ll never want to leave. They serve up some award winning chili.
Tampla, FL – University of South Florida
Cigar City Brewing. The first of two of the best breweries in the world on our list. Yeah you can visit 2 of the top 100 breweries in the world by traveling with your team in the American. This place promotes its self as inventive and it certainly is. With beers like Berliner-style Weisse with Cherries and Lime, a Brown Ale with Lactose and Jameson Barrel-rested Coffee, and Double Barrel-aged Imperial Pumpkin Ale. This place knows what it’s doing and is a must stop the next time you’re in Tampa. I didn’t even mention their flagship and world famous IPA Jai Alai. It’s as good an IPA as you’ll find.
Tulsa, OK – University of Tulsa
Prairie Artisan Ales. This was another one I wasn’t sure what we’d find until I remembered this awesome brewery. They can and distribute so odds are you don’t have to travel to far to find one. I just had Bomb! on Saturday (It was top notch) but if you’re in Tulsa look no further than this place. It’s the second of two places on this list that made the Rate Beer list of Best Breweries in the World list for 2015! That alone makes this place a must visit. Be on the look out for their cans and bottles the artwork on them are second to none.
Wichita, KS – Wichita State University
Central Standard Brewing. You have to seek this place out. It has a chill atmosphere, board games if you want to play with friends or kick back and relax on some retro furniture or on the open patio good for all sorts of things. They use an oak fermentation vessel which is pretty unique. I don’t know if I’ve seen another place do that but I could be and probably am wrong. You can get anything from a crisp pilsner or a truly unique Saison Brett aged on blackberries and French oak.
As always we put together a Wish List of one beer from each of these breweries on the Untappd profile (TheBeercat1) for easy findings.
Have you already visited some of these breweries?
Let me know how they were with a comment on twitter/facebook/Instagram.