1. Blackstone Brewery
That's the smallest starting point for any brewery on this list, but last year's ridiculous growth made Blackstone the fourth-largest of the fastest-growing breweries in the U.S.
Tennessee and Nashville in particular deserve at least a bit of the credit. With 31 breweries -- or one for every 205,000 Tennesseans -- the Volunteer State ranks No. 38 in capita per brewery. We realize it's whiskey country, but it's somewhat hard to believe that the beer-loving artists coming out of Nashville don't thirst for something other than a light lager every now and then.
Maybe it just took some time for Nashville's brewers to scrape together some cash and for tastes to change. Blackstone's been kicking around as a brewpub since 1994. Its Chaser Pale and Nut Brown Ale have been awarded medals at both the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, while its St. Charles Porter is the most award-winning Brown Porter in the history of the Great American Beer Festival. Blackstone didn't get around to opening its bottling facility until 2011, though. There was some question about whether Nashville would embrace bottles of American Pale Ale or Picnic Summer Ale, but those were answered all too quickly last summer.
Blackstone is now cranking out its own beers as well as those of St. Louis-based
thanks to an agreement reached by the brewers -- and, most notably, former Schlafly brewery and current Blackstone head Dave Miller -- two years ago.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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