The best breweries in America are destinations in their own right, chock-full of expertly crafted brews and unmatched experiences. With so many options from coast to coast, you can build an entire vacation around your favorite adult beverage.
What makes a brewery worth planning a trip around? For starters, a banger of an IPA or a standout pilsner. But there’s more to it than that. The most exceptional American breweries operate out of state-of-the-art facilities, are giving back through important social and environmental initiatives, and challenging the scene with fascinating new beers.
This northern Colorado outfit launched in 2015 and continues to wow craft enthusiasts with weekly releases. WeldWerks has mastered the IPA but goes the extra mile, brewing with intriguing adjuncts like coconut and dragonfruit and making some of the best sours we’ve tasted. Better still, the brewery — headquartered in Greeley with a forthcoming tasting room opening in Colorado Springs — enjoys the company of the Rocky Mountains for a gorgeous backdrop.
Santa Rosa, California
Santa Rosa brewery HenHouse started like so many storied producers, a home-brewing operation that blossomed into a business. We love their high-octane IPAs as well as warm-weather sippers like a refreshing blond ale. Geographically, the brewery could not be better positioned. The Napa Valley, San Francisco, and the stunning northern Californian coast are all within striking distance of the operation.
Seattle has many fine breweries but Cloudburst is in its own remarkable league. Steps away from Pike Place Market and the water, the small outfit specializes in both IPAs and Old World styles like pilsners, Helles lagers, extra special bitters, and more. The word has gotten out, so you may be able to try some of the label’s work from your favorite local tap house. But visiting is still the best way to experience Cloudburst’s many rotating options. There’s a second location, too, for those who want to get a tour of the Emerald City in while visiting.
Read more: Seattle Travel Guide
New York, New York
Brooklyn’s Other Half has blown up the beer scene over the last several years. With every release, the brewery reveals its utter fluency in the language of hops. If you’re looking for an IPA so balanced you’ll pack a case home with you, this is your spot. Thanks to heightened popularity, you can visit them in a few spots these days, including D.C. and the Finger Lakes. But it’s tough to beat a visit to the Brooklyn space that started it all, in the heart of the storied borough where the people-watching is unmatched.
Read more: New York Travel Guide
On top of incredible collaborations like the legendary 3-Way IPA and amazing barrel-aged beers, Fort George offers a truly unique setting. Occupying an old cannery at the mouth of the Columbia River in Astoria, the brewery shares a habitat with playful seals and giant ships heading out to sea. You can sip on a tasty oatmeal pale, chow down on some fresh clam chowder, and peruse the many seasonal and one-off beers the establishment has become famous for.
It could be argued that Jester King practically started the experimental brewing movement. The Lone Star joint has been tinkering around with things like hop plasma and brett for years, jump-starting trends along the way. Winos especially will appreciate the brewery’s work as it tends to be complex and incredibly elegant. Part of the draw is the beautiful working ranch it is set on, about 20 miles outside of the city. There’s even a restaurant and nature trail on the jaw-dropping property.
Read more: Austin Travel Guide
Paso Robles, California
Great beer? Check. Plenty of variety and compelling collaborations? Check. A genuinely sustainable approach to its work? Three for three. Firestone Walker makes a mean brew but also leads by example, utilizing solar energy, reusing brewing waste, and capturing steam from brewing operations only to plug it back into the local grid as power. Perhaps most importantly, amid an historic drought in the American West, the brewery works with a custom water reuse system, a move that honors and evolves with climate change.
The craft brewing pride of Oklahoma, Prairie Artisan has made a major name for itself thanks to graceful beers and artistic labels. It’s the kind of place that will change your entire concept of beer as you know it. You’ll wonder how such layered flavor profiles are achieved and come away with at least one new favorite farmhouse style beer, one of Prairie Artisan’s many specialties. In addition to the Tulsa spot, there’s also an expansive tasting room in Oklahoma City.
Great Lakes launched in the 80s, when brewing was more of a novelty than a full-blown industry. Since, the iconic Cleveland label has amassed a sturdy lineup of house beers and a trusty and large Midwest following. There are well-made classics like porters, Irish ales, and hefeweizens as well as more unexpected options like imperial red IPAs. Visiting the central brewpub gives you both a great taste of the brewery’s work as well as the dynamic city.
With a devout following unlike any other in craft beer, The Alchemist has to make the list. Known for its beloved Heady Topper Ale, the Vermont brewery boasts a lovely beer garden venue in the laid-back town of Stowe. The IPAs are a must but so too are the imperial stouts, Belgian saisons, and delicious session beers. You won’t be the only person there but after a single sip you’ll quickly understand the gospel of this special place.
Simply put, there’s nothing else like Florida Keys Brewing Company. The beer is solid and the setting is pure magic, based in the tropical paradise that is Islamorada. You can’t help feeling anything but bliss from the colorful and convivial tasting room in the sun-soaked Keys. Crack open a well-rounded Spearfish Amber or enjoy an aptly-named Iguana Bait, a mouthwatering kolsch made with hibiscus and honey.
Read more: Key West, Florida Travel Guide
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