Skip to main content

Final Four Beer: Best Craft Breweries from the Towns of College Basketball’s Best

As college basketball fans gear up for the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four, it’s time to shine a light on some beer being made in each of the college towns represented in Minneapolis.

While there won’t be a beer competition for the beer scenes of the Final Four teams, we can highlight some of the quality beer made in the four represented cities: East Lansing, Michigan; Auburn, Alabama; Lubbock Texas; and Charlottesville, Virginia. The Final Four’s host city, Minneapolis, has plenty of great things to do and lots of great beer as well, including Surly, Barrel Theory, BlackStack and many more.

It’s hard for these beer scenes to set themselves apart from the rest of the beer field as Michigan State, Auburn, Texas Tech and Virginia managed to do on the basketball court, but they do brew up some tasty suds. 

Michigan State University

Old Nation Brewing Company – East Lansing, Michigan

Old Nation Brewing Co
Old Nation Brewing Co./Facebook

Technically in Williamston, about 20 minutes east of campus, Old Nation has set the Michigan beer scene on fire the past couple years with its New England IPAs. The brewery was struggling to make ends meet when it decided to capitalize on the growing New England IPA trend and release M-43 in 2017, quickly becoming one of the hottest beers in Michigan that summer. Before long, Old Nation also released Cart Horse and Boss Tweed in their “New Orthodox India Pale Ale Series.”

University of Virginia

Reason Beer – Charlottesville, Virginia

Reason Beer
Reason Beer/Facebook

Virginia is the lone No. 1-seed left in the tournament, and Charlottesville is likely the best beer scene of the four college towns represented in the tournament. Reason Beer is a relatively new kid on the block in the Virginia city, named one of Beer Advocate’s Best New Breweries in 2017. Led by a former Maine Beer Company director of operations, the brewery certainly has the pedigree to be great. With four core beers — a blonde, pale, black, and saison — and a rotation of specialty beers, Reason Beer is concentrated on hitting the marks.

Auburn University

Red Clay Brewing Company – Auburn, Alabama

Red Clay Brewing Company
Red Clay Brewing Company/Facebook

A dark horse to make the Final Four, Auburn had to upset No. 1-seed North Carolina and No. 2-seed Kentucky as a fifth-seeded team. The Tigers were a long shot, but they hope they’re not done. Red Clay Brewing is a homegrown brewery founded by lifelong locals who make beers representing the city’s history. Red Clay’s Big Swamp Stout was one of the first beers, full of coffee and dried out with oatmeal. Meanwhile, Red Clay pays tribute to parties on the shore of Mobile Bay, while Hop Jubilee is a spicy rye Imperial IPA.

Texas Tech University

The Plains Brew Co. – Lubbock, Texas

Plains Brew Co
The Plains Brew Co./Facebook

Texas Tech has stymied two basketball powers, Michigan and Gonzaga, with its tough defense. A ways from the major cities of Texas, Lubbock is a bit of an island, but with breweries like The Plains Brew Co., it manages to supply local beer. The Plains Brew Co. makes “plain good beer” like Plains Amber Beer, Plains Brew Stout, Plains Brew Sour, and Plains Brew English-style IPA. 

Editors' Recommendations

Pat Evans
Pat Evans is a writer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, focusing on food and beer, spirits, business, and sports. His full…
The 11 Best Beer Glasses for Every Style of Beer
A group of friends enjoying their glasses of craft beer.

If you’re a self-proclaimed beer lover or beer connoisseur, you should know that glasses are more than vessels for drinking brew. And not just any glass, mind you. It’s those uniquely shaped beer glasses that allow you to get the full bouquet of aromas and distinctive flavors of your favorite beer.

From pilsner glasses to snifters, there are beer glasses for every style of brew that provides the ultimate drinking experience. Don’t be ashamed if your knowledge of bar glassware isn’t on par with your local hipster bartender, for we created this guide on the best beer glasses for every style of beer.

Read more
The 20 Best Beers That Everyone Should Drink in 2022
Hand grabbing a bottle from a selection of beers.

We are undeniably overwhelmed with delicious brews from across America, be it Portland, Oregon, or Tampa, Florida -- all thanks to the surge of craft beer in the last decade. Today, the American beer landscape stands as strong and diverse as it has ever been, from its cheap summer beers to its hop-forward IPA’s iconic offerings.

However, despite our rich beer heritage being a blessing, navigating our local beer landscape can be quite difficult at times. There are more hop varieties now than we can count with our fingers. Throw in relatively obscure styles like saisons, sours, smoked beers, and even garden-fresh cucumber beers -- it can be downright confusing.

Read more
Best Pumpkin Beers Worthy of Your Pint Glass this Fall
best pumpkin beer

It's pumpkin season, people. The portly orange produce is invading everything these days, from your morning upper to post-dinner dessert. Soon enough, fall will give way to winter and the last remnants of pumpkin spice will fade as everyone swaps out the spice for peppermint. Until then, pumpkin beer it is.

Pumpkins have even infiltrated the beer realm, sometimes with not-so-desirable results. When done poorly, a pumpkin beer tastes like little more than a bunch of brown sugar and cinnamon hit with carbonation and alcohol. But the practice is so popular that there are some really tasty options out there, especially when combined with other ingredients in pumpkin coffee beer.

Read more