Nothing goes together quite like beer and football. So as an avid Sun Belt fan I was curious – what’s each Sun Belt team’s staple brewery?
What’s that one tap room we need to check out next time we’re on the road for a game?
In an effort to make this list as objective as possible, here’s how I set about making these rankings:
First: For a brewery to be considered, it had to be within a reasonable distance of each school. No, I did not include satellite campuses. I simply looked at breweries within a 30-45 minute drive of the main campus. And in most cases when the sample size was too small, I tried to expand the search outwards until there were at least a few options on the table to choose from. If options were really sparse and the next closest brewery was two hours away, I left it out of consideration and went with the one in town.
Second: After I had the list of local breweries, I looked for the one with the highest average score on Untappd.
For those unaware, Untappd is a website/app that allows users to log and rate their beers on a scale of 0-5. It boasts a few million beer nerds as subscribers, so it seemed like the perfect resource to objectively evaluate this scenario.
While Untappd users are only ranking individual beers, the app actually collects that information by brewery in order to produce a 0-5 ranking for the brewery itself. So at the end of the day we have a 0-5 ranking for each brewery – 5 being the highest and 0 being the lowest. In general, scores above 4.0 are very good, with your average score being somewhere around a 3.5.
Third: I ignored whether or not breweries had partnered with the school to produce a flagship beer. Marketing contracts be damned!
So without further ado, let’s see what the top breweries are at each Sun Belt school…
Booneshine Brewing Company
Untappd Score: 3.86
Appalachian State is only a short drive away from Asheville, NC – home to the third highest rate of microbreweries per capita as of 2016. So it comes as no surprise that the Mountaineers would have some good beer.
Booneshine Brewing Company is located only a hop, skip, and a jump away from campus. And while Booneshine doesn’t technically have its own tap room, thirsty patrons can enjoy a cold one right next door at Basil’s Fresh Pasta and Deli.
Popular brews include the Booneshine IPA and Tropicale Ale.
Wiseacre Brewing Company
Untappd Score: 3.74
Our friends at Arkansas State are actually in a dry county, so I had to venture a little further out for this one.
Wiseacre Brewing Company is located about an hour and a half away in Memphis, TN (I get it, it’s across state lines but that’s the best I could do…).
Brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch founded Wiseacre in 2013. Davin graduated second in his class from the World Brewing Academy while Kellan got his start working for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
In their first three years, Wiseacre was forced to grow from a capacity of 3,000 barrels to over 20,000 barrels to meet the high demand.
Be sure to check out their Ananda IPA and Gotta Get Up to Get Down coffee milk stout.
New South Brewing
Untappd Score: 3.63
New South Brewing is actually located a short drive away from Conway in nearby Myrtle Beach, SC. It’s also one of the older breweries on this list, getting its start in 1998.
New South began as a draft-only brewery, finally expanding into canning in 2009. This brewery specializes in Ales and Lagers – winning Gold at the Great American Beer Fest in 2001 for their New South Lager.
Popular beers include the New South Lager and Dirty Myrtle Double IPA.
Scofflaw Brewing Company
Untappd Score: 3.98
Scofflaw was founded by Matt Shirah and Travis Herman. Before starting their brewery around 2016, Shirah worked in finance while Herman was a microbiologist in the pharmaceutical industry.
In its first year, Scofflaw was recognized by Beer Advocate and USA Today as one of America’s best new microbreweries. In fact, they were so successful early on that they were forced to triple capacity within their first year.
The brewery is less than 30 minutes away from Georgia State Stadium (depending on Atlanta traffic). Check out their signature Basement IPA – named by Atlanta Journal Constitution beer writer Bob Townsend as one of his favorite IPAs.
Eagle Creek Brewing Company
Untappd Score: 3.48
These folks love Georgia Southern. The brewery actually released its flagship Low Country Pale Ale on July 23, 2013 to commemorate the birthday of legendary Georgia Southern coach Erk Russell.
Founded in 2013, Eagle Creek is the only brewery in Statesboro. Today, it operates as a brewpub, meaning folks can stop in for a bite to eat and even check out occasional live music.
A few of their more popular beers include the River Street Praline Brown Ale and the Georgia Tea Party Amber.
Untappd Score: 4.03
Located a short drive away from Cajun Field in the suburb of Broussard, LA, former chemical engineer Andrew Goldey founded Parish Brewing in 2008. The brewery launched with its signature beer “Canebrake” and as of 2012 was brewing 2,000 gallons of it each week.
These days, they’re known around the country for their Ghost in the Machine Double IPA. According to Parish’s website, the flavor profile for Ghost in the Machine is “PURE HOP JUICE”.
These days, Parish is one of the largest breweries in Louisiana and you can find their beers on tap at restaurants and bars around the Bayou state. However, if you do decide to stop by the tap room in Broussard, be on the lookout for a prized bottle of their Grand Reserve Barleywine.
Fairhope Brewing Company
Untappd Score: 3.68
Fairhope Brewing Company is the result of a group of passionate beer fans that were disappointed by the lack of local beer in south Alabama. So in 2012, they decided to do something about it and Fairhope Brewing Company was born.
Located just on the other side of Mobile Bay from Ladd-Peebles, you can find their beers across Alabama, the Florida panhandle, and Southern Mississippi.
A few of their better known beers are the Fairhope 51 and (Take The) Causeway IPA.
Ruggedman Brewing Company
Untappd Score: 3.77
Ruggedman may just be the youngest brewery on our list. It was founded in 2017 by three veterans who all served in the same Marine Corps unit in Iraq.
Technically the brewery has a New Braunfels, TX address (a few minutes South of San Marcos on I-35) – but it was still close enough to Bobcat Stadium to find its way onto our list.
Popular brews include the Big Rig Apricot Blonde and their Blowtorch Black IPA.
Folklore Brewing and Meadery
Untappd Score 3.7
Folklore Brewing and Meadery is about an hour and a half drive from Veterans Memorial Stadium, located in nearby Dothan, AL. Despite the distance, it’s one of the closest breweries to Troy and can still boast some pretty good beer – like the Shadowcaster Porter which made this Business Insider list of the best beers in every state.
The brewery itself is located on an old family farm purchased in the 1960s. Folklore was opened by Jeremy Pate in 2010, and today its beers can be found in local restaurants and select stores throughout the area.
In addition to the Shadowcaster Porter, check out the Snipe Hunt IPA.
Flying Tiger Brewery
Untappd Score: 3.56
Flying Tiger Brewery pays homage to General Claire Lee Chennault’s Flying Tigers of World War II. General Chennault was somewhat of a war hero and resided for a brief period in Monroe, LA.
The Flying Tigers were known for their signature P-40 Warhawk planes (in case you were wondering, that’s how ULM got the name for its mascot) and you can even see a mock up of one of the planes above the tap room wall at the brewery.
Be sure to check out their flagship Burma Blonde lager or their Warhawk Kolsch. The brewery donates 5% of its sales from the Warhawk Kolsch to ULM’s scholarship fund.
Appalachian Mountain Brewery – Appalachian State
Having visited Appalachian Mountain Brewery, I’m a bit shocked this place wasn’t able to make our list. Their beers are incredible and the atmosphere of their taproom is great too. At the end of the day, I would highly recommend a visit to anyone who is thirsty and happens to be traveling through Boone.
Bayou Teche Brewing – Louisiana
Bayou Teche gets honorable mention for several reasons.
First, they pioneered the school-brewery partnership when they released the Ragin’ Cajun Ale.
Second, I’m not sure if any other brewery quite captures the essence of its region and culture quite like Bayou Teche. They offer the occasional brewery tour in Cajun French and frequently feature Cajun and Zydeco bands on weekends.
Altmeyer & Lewis Brewing Company – Texas State
This one barely got edged out by Ruggedman Brewing Company (by only 0.01 points). Like Ruggedman, they are relative newcomers. Founded in 2016, they were the first craft brewery in San Marcos – the product of two homebrewers who decided to bring their beer to the masses.
Was your favorite brewery left off the list? Have a suggestion for us to check out on our next Sun Belt road trip? Be sure to drop us a line in the comments section below or tweet us @RememberF5.