It’s been a long year and a half. We are finally, slowly getting back to normal lives, which means normal trips and meeting up with friends. It also means you deserve a pint or two. If you are unsure where to go this summer and want to create a trip around a great brewery, or are just looking for new breweries to try, here is our list of the best breweries in the U.S.
1. Treehouse Brewing Company – Charlton, Deerfield and Sandwich, Massachusetts
There is a Twitter account dedicated to Treehouse Brewery’s locally famous long lines, so be prepared when planning your visit. However, don’t let that deter you! Their online ordering system will ensure you get the beer you want, even if you have to wait in line. AND, they recently opened not one, but TWO new locations, one in Sandwich on Cape Cod, and one in Deerfield in the western part of the state. After a hiatus thanks to COVID-19, they’ve brought back their draft pour ticket, which you can buy in advance online, entitling you to a draft pour at the Charlton location. You can purchase up to two tickets, and they must be used the day you purchase them.
2. Stone Brewing Company – San Diego and Richmond, Virginia
The ninth largest brewery in the U.S., and the largest in Southern California, Stone Brewing Company should be added to your list. With eight “principle” beers available year-round plus special releases throughout the year, and pilot series which may become part of the principle beers, they pride themselves on creating beers with honesty, integrity and craftsmanship. Take a brewery tour at either of their breweries on both coasts: Escondido in San Diego or Liberty Station in Virginia. Enjoy a meal in the bistro at either location, featuring “eclectic, world-inspired dishes” that pair perfectly with their beers. If you’re just looking for a pint of their beer, you can visit one of their six taprooms, five of which are in California, and the sixth in Virginia.
3. Breckenridge Brewery and Pub – Breckenridge & Littleton, Colorado
The third-oldest craft brewery in Colorado, Breckenridge Brewery has its original location in downtown Breckenridge (one of our Best Small Towns in America), plus its larger facility in Littleton. Both offer brewery tours, delicious food, and of course, their beers on tap. Littleton features a 100 barrel brewhouse, and the Farm House Restaurant, which is much more than a restaurant or taproom. After taking one of their 90-minute brewery tours, you can enjoy views of the Rockies while sitting around a fire pit, or while playing bocce or corn hole. Their beer lineup includes their mainline brews available all-year round, nitro brews and seasonal brews.
4. Golden Road Brewing – Los Angeles
You’ll be drinking the “California dream” with every sip of Golden Road beer. Inspired by the California lifestyle, each beer connects to California in some way: from the fruit cart vendors of LA (Melon Cart, Pineapple Cart, Mango Cart, and Spicy Mango Cart), to Heal the Bay IPA, which benefits the nonprofit organization Heal the Bay, dedicated to cleaning Southern California’s waters. Tour the brewery in Atwater Village, or visit one of the five pubs located throughout California.
5. Russian River Brewing Company – Windsor, California
Founded in 1997 by Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville, Korbel eventually transferred Russian River Brewing to the brewmaster Vinnie and his wife, Natalie, who opened up shop in Santa Rosa. In time, Vinnie and Natalie opened the 85,000-square-foot brewery in Windsor. The brewery includes a brewpub, outdoor beer garden, gift shop, tasting room/growler fills, guided and self-guided tours. The Santa Rosa location is also still open. Besides their four flagship beers, you’ll find several barrel-aged beers that are aged in wine barrels (appropriate for their Sonoma location!)
6. Other Half Brewing – Brooklyn, New York & Washington, D.C.
Founded in 2014, Other Half is “dedicated to collaborating with breweries both in New York as well as across the world in an effort to constantly move the industry forward while elevating the craft.” Partnering with several breweries locally, and beyond, Other Half is able to brew hundreds of beers. Try Green City, a hazy IPA, or a double IPA, Stacks on Stacks—whatever you choose, you are sure to be satisfied. Visit their 2 locations in Brooklyn, or their taprooms in Washington D.C. and in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
7. Cape May Brewing Company – Cape May, New Jersey
Founded by three guys who wanted better beer on Cape May, Cape May Brewing Company has become a staple to those in the area, and throughout the state. Situated in the Cape May Airport, the brewery is a great place to visit — with a tasting room, a self-guided tour and a spacious beer garden to relax in with a refreshing glass of one of their beers. With eight flagship beers, a slew of seasonal, and limited edition brews to choose from, many of which are award-winning, your only problem will be deciding which beer to try first.
8. Iron Hill Brewery – multiple locations
Originally founded in Newark, Delaware, Iron Hill now has 21 locations you can choose from, most of which can be found in Pennsylvania — all with their own on-site brewery. Self-proclaimed as a “craft kitchen and scratch brewery,” you’ll need to plan on a long visit so you can enjoy some brews, and delicious food (seriously salivating at the photos of the french fries on their website over here). You won’t want to skip dessert, either. With every purchase of their signature Triple Chocolate Hill dessert they donate a portion to CureSearch for Children’s Cancer and a portion to a charity chosen by the location you are visiting. And don’t forget the beer.
9. Smoky Mountain Brewery – multiple locations, Tennessee
Opened in 1996, Smoky Mountain Brewery is the oldest craft brewery in eastern Tennessee. Starting as a small operation in Gatlinburg, Smoky Mountain now has four locations in Tennessee, with six flagship beers, and serving up delicious food to accompany them. Enjoy a Black Bear ale while listening to live music.
10. Alchemist Beer – Stowe, Vermont
Starting as a brewpub in Waterbury, Vermont in 2003, Alchemist has grown to two facilities, one in Waterbury, that is not open to the public, and only brews their signature brew, Heady Topper. The other facility is in neighboring Stowe, where they brew the other beers, have a tasting room, and a lawn for parties and special events (they often have live music to enjoy while you sip your beer outside). Alchemist is done growing, making just 20,000 barrels a year, so visiting them and getting some Heady Topper or Focal Banger truly is a special event in and of itself.
11. Bell’s Brewery – Kalamazoo & Comstock, Michigan
Bell’s Brewery has come a long way since founder Larry Bell brewed his first beer using a 15-gallon soup pot over 35 years ago. With nine signature brews, several seasonal and special edition brews, you can now tour the Comstock brewery, which houses 50 barrel and 200 barrel tanks and gives you a first-hand view of the brewing process. Visit the Kalamazoo location for a tour of the original brewery, and enjoy some beer and food at the Eccentric Cafe, Bell’s full-service restaurant.
12. Boulevard Brewing Co. – Kansas City, Missouri
Inspired by drinking Belgian beers while vacationing in Europe in the 1980s, founder John McDonald was determined to bring quality beer to the United States. Selling his home and risking it all to make the first keg for Boulevard Brewing in 1989, Boulevard now has nine Year ‘Round brews, and several seasonal/special edition ones. Plus, they have expanded to produce signature cocktail cans as well as hard seltzer.
13. Deschutes Brewery – Bend, Oregon
Pronounced “da shootz,” Deschutes Brewery started as a small brewpub and now sells over 225,000 barrels of beer each year. You have your choice of how to visit Deschutes, between the Bend tasting room at the brewery, the Bend Public House, the Portland Public House, the Portland Airport Pub (perfect if you are merely in Portland for a layover), or, if you’re on the east coast, their tasting room in Roanoke, Virginia. Choose from their four classics, seasonal beers, limited editions, reserve series and more.
14. Shorts Brewing Company – Bellaire, Michigan
Like many breweries on this list, Shorts Brewing Company started as a much smaller operation in a 120-year-old hardware store in 2004. In 2009, they opened their bigger production facility in Elk Rapids. You can now visit both locations, the brewpub in Bellaire at the original location, complete with a beer garden, delicious food, and a newer “brewtique” next door. The Elk Rapids location has a tasting room, and you can take a tour. Not only does Shorts brew delicious beer, but has expanded to their own brand of hard ciders and seltzers — Starcut Ciders, and Beaches Hard Seltzer.
15. Ballast Point Brewing – San Diego, Long Beach and Anaheim, California
If you want to make a day of drinking beer, with stunning ocean views, Ballast Point Brewing is the spot for you. With a patio, fire pit, patio games and fun events at the Long Beach location like “sips and succulents” and beginner homebrew classes at their Home Brew Mart in San Diego, Ballast will quickly become a favorite spot. Started in the late 90s by a group of homebrewers, Ballast features year-round beers including the award winning IPA Sculpin, as well as the official craft beer of the San Diego Padres, Swingin’ Friar Ale. You will also find seasonal beers and limited editions.
16. Allagash Brewing Company – Portland, Maine
Like so many craft breweries, Allagash started as a one-person operation, and has grown immensely through its over 20-year history. Their Belgian-inspired beers are some of the best in the country, and to ensure the Belgian tradition, the company treats employees who have been with the company for five years to a trip to Belgium for a brewery tour. Make sure you try their For Maine, With Love series, which is made exclusively for drinking and purchasing at the brewery.
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