As college football fans prepare for a major realignment across top conferences, its time to lift a glass to toast the Power Five as we know them. Consider these standout breweries representing each conference for your championship gametime viewing.
The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
Steeped in the traditions of North Carolina’s Tobacco Road, the ACC is one of the oldest and most prestigious athletic conferences in the U.S., with 15 schools from ten different states. The ACC is set to expand by three teams for the 2024 season after California, SMU, and Stanford were voted into the conference on Sept. 1, 2023.
Wicked Weed (Asheville, North Carolina)
The granddaddy of North Carolina’s craft beer scene is still widely considered the best of the Tarheel state. The Asheville-based brewery has three pubs, a strong sours program that inspired a line of natural wines called Vidl, and a James Beard semifinalist fine-dining restaurant called Cultura, featuring sours brewed next door at the Funkatorium.
Standout beers: Pernicious IPA, Perni-haze IPA, Milk & Cookies
Triple Crossing (Richmond, Virginia)
This beloved Richmond-based craft brewery made a name for itself in the early 2010s during the rise of hazy IPAs. Today, with a focus on classic styles, Triple Crossing has grown to include three locations and remains a favorite around Richmond and the East Coast – Wahoos and Hokies alike. Come for the beer and stay for the European-style poutine.
Standout beers: Falcon Smash IPA, Czech Dark Lager
Big Ten Conference
The Big Ten’s 127-year history is deeply rooted in the tradition and culture of the Midwest, where the craft beer scene continues to thrive. In 2024, the Big Ten will grow by four teams, with the West Coast craft scene of Oregon, Washington, USC and UCLA joining to expand the conference to 18 teams. Additionally, the East and West Division format will cease to exist in favor of the top two teams playing for the conference title at the end of the season.
Goose Island (Chicago, Illinois)
Known for its historical significance in the craft beer movement as Chicago’s first local craft brewery, Goose Island pioneered bourbon barrel-aged beer. Founder Greg Hall was inspired after sitting next to Jim Beam’s master distiller at a dinner in 1992 which resulted in the award-winning Bourbon County Stout.
Standout beers: Goose Island IPA, Bourbon County Stout
Bell’s (Kalamazoo, Michigan)
Established in 1985, Bell’s Brewery helped put Michigan on the map for craft brewing. Founder Larry Bell, an accomplished musician and self-professed hippie, was an avid home brewer who first opened a home-brewing supply company that evolved into one of the longest-running craft breweries east of the Mississippi.
Today, Bell’s remains dedicated to innovation and sustainability while continuing to build its reputation for eccentricity; the Comstock, Michigan location features a hop yard the size of a football field with an 85-ton geothermal field underground.
Standout beers: Two Hearted Ale, Oberon Ale, Hopslam Ale
Big 12 Conference
The Big 12 is arguably the most geographically diverse among the Power Five conferences, spanning much of the Central United States and will continue to stretch its boundaries to the West Coast in 2024. Technically the Big 14 in 2023 with the addition of Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, and BYU, the Big 12 loses long-time members Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC next year.
The Big 12 will still grow to 16 teams in 2024 thanks to the addition of Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah from the Pac-12.
Central Machine Works (Austin, TX)
Co-Founded by John Scott, who studied Economics at the University of Texas, Central Machine Works is one of Austin’s standout breweries. Before opening as a brewpub in 2019, it was home to Capitol Machine Works – a metal fabrication shop that produced a variety of custom parts starting with airplanes in WWII.
Now, the repurposed airplane hangar houses an open concept beer hall and expansive beer garden which serve as a community hub featuring a full-service bar, in-house kitchen, and a core line of popular brews alongside rotating seasonal options.
Standout beers: Premium Pilsner, Kentucky Common, Oktoberfest
American Solera (Tulsa and Edmond, OK)
Known for its oak barrel aging, Tulsa-based American Solera also focuses on coolship beers and mixed fermentation. Most of American Solera’s beers are aged 6 to 18 months prior to bottling. Its fruited sours, hazy IPAs and roasted maple stouts are available at both Tulsa and Edmond locations.
Both taprooms are examples of beautiful, fresh design boasting welcoming atmospheres, as demonstrated by the semi-finalist nomination for the 2023 James Beard Outstanding Bar Award.
Standout beers: Wolf Treatz, Terpy Citra
Traditionally known for comprising the strongest sports schools on the West Coast, the Pac-12 will have only two teams in 2024-25: Oregon State and Washington State. What they will lack in teams they will more than make up for in exceptional craft brews, even if the league ceases to exist.
Wayfinder (Portland, OR)
With the nickname Beervana, Portland has been a pioneering city in the craft beer movement since the early 1980s, and award-winning Wayfinder is an area flagship. After five years in operation, the brewery recruited GABF gold medal-winning brewmaster Natalie Rose Baldwin, who continues to employ both old and new-school lager techniques to spark innovation in the space. Dungeon & Dragons enthusiasts can enjoy monthly game nights that include a 3-course meal.
Standout beers: Cold IPA, Freiheit!
Monkish Brewing (Torrance, CA)
With a stellar national reputation for hazy and triple IPAs with flavors such as hibiscus, pistachio, vanilla and coffee that draw long lines for releases, Monkish Brewing is widely considered one of Southern California’s best craft breweries. Monkish has even hosted a regular UCLA course, “A Class of Beer: An Overview of the Craft Brewing Renaissance.”
Standout beers: Feminist Tripel, any Hazy IPA
Southeastern Conference (SEC)
In the Southeast, college football is a way of life. The SEC produces the most NFL talent and makes the most revenue of any other Power Five conference, with fans spending all week planning their tailgate for the following game. Adding the Sooners and Longhorns will only make for even more competition for bragging rights – and great brews.
Creature Comforts (Athens, GA)
Hometown favorite Creature Comforts has been winning awards and building momentum since it opened in 2014. Co-founded by two graduates from the current, twice-reigning national champions Georgia Bulldogs, the brewery became the official beer of UGA athletics in August 2023, and is also a B-Corp certified business that focuses on sustainability, community and excellent craft brews.
Standout beers: Classic City Lager, Tropicalia IPA
Parish Brewing (Broussard, LA)
Founded by South-African native Andrew Godley, who spent most of his childhood in New Orleans and Baton Rouge before earning a chemical engineering degree at LSU, Parish Brewing thrives in the heart of Cajun country.
Parish is widely known for its innovation and intensely flavored modern approach to brewing, with 10 year-round beers as well as seasonal Berliners, high gravity double and triple IPAs, and barrel aged strong ales.
Standout beers: Canebrake, Ghost in the Machine