For the last few years, we’ve tried to rank ACC football schools by their local craft beer options. No matter the process, we’ve always received some complaints in the process — most notably about the narrow focus we pursued with “hyper-local” options.
So once again, we make some adjustments this year to keep things fresh and (most of) the people happy.
For 2018, the definition of local has been broadened for the likes of schools like Clemson, Boston College, Miami and others who have quality breweries nearby but not in their exact city. This time around, we’ll be ranking each program by the top three breweries in their general city area.
If you’re still perturbed, sorry. Get better beer.
Ranking Each ACC’s School Best Local Craft Breweries
1. Boston College Eagles (Chestnut Hill, Mass.)
Chestnut Hill may not have much in the way of great breweries based there, but you’ll find quite a bit once you start venturing a little east. Our top three picks were Trillium Brewing, Lamplighter and Nightshift, though you could certainly trip and fall into any number of other fantastic options. Trillium’s the most famous of these given its roster of deliciously hoppy brews in cans and bottles — Congress Street IPA’s a favorite.
2. N.C. State Wolfpack (Raleigh, N.C.)
Brewery Bhavana’s (arguably) become the main attraction in terms of Raleigh breweries, producing a long list of IPAs and Saisons drinkers have flocked to in recent years. Personally, I’m a big fan of Bouquet, a barrel-aged Saison. Among the many other options in Raleigh — and not extending much further due to the cluster of schools in the Research Triangle — would put Lonerider Brewing and Trophy Brewing in the top three as well.
3. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Atlanta, Ga.)
Just Northeast of Piedmont Park in Atlanta is Orpheus Brewing, a small but hip spot serving various IPAs and sours, along with other styles as well. Grab yourself some Noise and Flesh (wine barrel-aged sour ale) if it’s on. Elsewhere on the long list of quality Atlanta options: Scofflaw and Monday Night Brewing. Athens brings in some awesome beers too, though we’re not discussing the home of UGA in this article.
4. Duke Blue Devils (Durham, N.C.)
Ponysaurus Brewing Co. can’t necessarily be pegged to one or two specific styles, instead producing a wide array of highly-rated options from Belgian ales to IPAs, stouts and more. The Biere de Garde’s an interesting one, paying more homage to the French farmhouse style (via their own description). Durham also sports Fullsteam, which has some clever experimental styles, and Barrel Culture.
5. Louisville Cardinals (Louisville, Ky.)
Against the Grain, which is attached to the Louisville Bats’ stadium, carries the Cards well on its own. And I would highly recommend (as I have before) trying out Bo & Luke, a Kentucky bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout, if you haven’t already. But beyond Against the Grain and copious amounts of bourbon are some other quality breweries as well. See: Mile Wide Beer Co. and Monnik Beer Co.
6. Miami Hurricanes (Coral Gables, Fla.)
In the past, the ‘Canes were relegated near the bottom of this list due to being shut out of Miami proper. Now, with the floodgates open, they have quite a few top-flight breweries available. First and foremost is J Wakefield and its strong roster of sours and lighter fare that’s not without strong flavors as well. Wynwood Brewing Co. and Biscayne Bay Brewing Co. are the other two we’ve ID’d here, though there’s a long list of other options, too.
7. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Winston-Salem, N.C.)
Last year’s No. 1 drops a bit once we open up the competition, but that doesn’t take away from the excellence coming out of Foothills Brewing Co. year-in and year-out. Barrel-aged Sexual Chocolate is a sought-after annual release, though I’ll also happily drink a fresh pint of Jade IPA any time I’m in North Carolina. Beyond Foothills, Wise Man Brewing and Fiddlin’ Fish are also (relatively) close.
8. Pittsburgh Panthers (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Pitt may be eighth here, but don’t sleep on the city’s rich beer culture. East End Brewing Co,’s Gratitude is such a well-renowned Barleywine that it comes with its own guide. Grist House began its life as a home brew project for years, before bursting onto the Pittsburgh scene in 2014 with a well-rounded list of styles. Roundabout’s hoppier selection is also worth a look.
9. Virginia Cavaliers (Charlottesville, Va.)
The off-campus drinking scene in C’ville has so much going for it that it’s previously had its own bracket contest. Among UVA’s best beer options: Champion Brewery, South Street Brewery and Three Notch’d Brewing. Three Notch’d makes the extremely well-named Biggie S’mores. Champion’s Fruit Basket DIPA is also well-regarded.
10. Syracuse Orange (Syracuse, N.Y.)
Sorry, the extended borders still don’t grab Auburn into Syracuse’s sphere, which would net us Prison City. But SU’s not without other awesome breweries just the same. Willow Rock Brewing Co., Eastwood Brewing Co. and Middle Ages all have solid local followings — especially for some of the Orange-inspired beer names (Willow Rock has Orange 44 and Jim, among others). Willow Rock’s BRUNCH could be the best beer brewed within the city limits.
11. Florida State Seminoles (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Tallahassee’s beer scene might have been slow to develop, though it’s managed to make up for lost time. Proof Brewing Co. carries the flag for the city right now, especially with Creatures in the Dark, the brewery’s sweet milk stout. On the other side of the spectrum, Deep Brewing Co. makes a lot of excellent beers on the lighter end. Ology excels similarly, with plenty of IPAs and pale ales.
12. North Carolina Tar Heels (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Of course you can find many of the breweries from Durham and Raleigh in Chapel Hill, but we’re trying to make things a little less broad for these closely grouped schools (maybe that’s not necessarily fair). Chapel Hill has Carolina Brewery right on Franklin Street. However, in nearby Carrboro, you’ll find Vecino and Steel String, each with a decent number of pale ales and sours.
13. Clemson Tigers (Clemson, S.C.)
Clemson itself doesn’t have any breweries, though the wider area near the city has a few to add to South Carolina’s burgeoning industry. Carolina Bauernhaus (in Anderson) is the headliner, with its Whiskey Sour — and a ton of other interesting sours as well. Greenville has Brewery 85 and Thomas Creek Brewery, the former of which uses German styles as its inspiration.
14. Virginia Tech Hokies (Blacksburg, Va.)
As always in these rankings, Virginia Tech has the fewest nearby options and ends up all the way at the bottom (sorry, Hokies!). Rising Silo Brewery is actually in Blacksburg, and is more focused on darker ales and lagers. Sinkland Farms Brewery sits in Christianburg, and Right Mind Brewing is also in Blacksburg. Right Mind has only been around for a couple years, yet is already fairly well reviewed across a variety of styles.
Hate where your school’s brewery was ranked? Start yelling at me in the comments.