This Is Part One Of A Continuing Series
Craft beer. Whether you’re all about it or just appreciate a good beer every now and then, there is certainly no shortage of good brews around. Some of the best breweries in the U.S. aren’t even on this list! It was actually tough to pick out what to feature and what to skip. Some of these might sound very familiar while some may be entirely new to you, so please enjoy this work in progress.
Alabama, Good People Brewing Company
Since 2008, Birmingham’s Good People bottles several beers throughout the year and seasonal specialties to keep things interesting. One of their most notable brews is the Snake Handler IPA, a fresh double IPA with aromas of pine, citrus and spices. If you’re a hops fan, this should be one to try!
Alaska, Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
If you’re heading up north to where you can see the sun at midnight or hardly see the sun at all in the winter, make sure to get your senses back at Midnight Sun Brewing. IPA and Belgian beer fans can find some good choices here, with the most popular ale being the red-tinted, aptly named Sockeye Red IPA. Varieties of Belgians include a tripel, golden, dark, and even a double IPA. So check this place out, it’s an excellent spot to kick back, no matter what the weather’s like.
Arizona, Four Peaks Brewing Company
As one of the most well-known breweries in the state, Tempe-based Four Peaks has been serving up a variety of beers since 1996. While their flagship Scottish ale, Kiltlifter is relatively well-known, their other variations are also making a name for themselves. Check out the peach ale for a summertime treat, the citrusy Hop Knot IPA, or fall’s sought-after Pumpkin Porter. Head to Arizona locations for comforting pub food and some beer-centric specialties.
Arkansas, Ozark Beer Company
If you just happen to find yourself in the mountains, this quirky brewery is a must, mainly because of its sweet, signature cream stout. While this down-to-earth brewery hasn’t even been around for 10 years, it’s gained a reputation for its ales and stouts, as well as its community involvement. Visit the tasting room located in Rogers on Arkansas Street, seven days a week.
California, Russian River Brewing Company
Given the sheer size and population of California, picking the best brewery is harder than it appears. You could obviously visit Stone Brewing in San Diego or Sierra Nevada in Chico, but let’s dig a little deeper here. Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, CA is a good mix of little meets big. Just two beers necessitate their year-round list of bottled brews, while a number of special and seasonal beers can be found only at their two locations. Be sure to try their two flagships, Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder, both IPAs made California-style. Check out their new brewery in Windsor, CA, catch a tour and carve out some time for a few and eats before you head back out.
Colorado, Odell Brewing Co.
This is another VERY close call, as Colorado is another one of those states just brimming with good beer, good people and good…well, you know… It’s more or less a question of preference when it comes to picking out the best brewery in Colorado. If you’re living that heavy metal lifestyle, then Trve Brewing Co. is probably the perfect place to go get your fill of Sabbath-worship. For those…less severe beer fans, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Odell. This 100% employee own rarity is an absolute treasure to Colorado and if you’re from out of state, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a bottle or two of this brand around. Myrcenary,
Connecticut, New England Brewing Co.
Would you drink a beer called Schnitzengiggles? If you’re at this Woodbridge brewery, there’s a good chance you would partake in this special Oktoberfest brew, even though it sounds like some sort of ‘70s German variety show. New England Brewing Co. has a staggering amount of beers to choose from, so if you can’t pick one out of 37, you’re SOL, buddy. With names such as Tangerine Trash, Coffee Breath and Premeditated Murder, there’s really no way you can go wrong. Head down to the taproom if you’re in the area, and be sure to check their website out for special events and food truck visits.
Delaware, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery
“Delaware…we’re in…Delaware.” Actually, all movie references aside, Milton’s famous Dogfish Head brewery is a true beer lover’s destination. If you’ve been to any liquor store that’s not your local gas station, then you’ve probably seen the Dogfish Head label several times. What’s even more crazy about this uber-fan favorite is that you can actually stay at the Dogfish Head Inn! You can really make this a true getaway, especially with the special packages they offer, which allow you to learn and sample all day long!
Florida, Cigar City Brewing
Whether Tampa’s en route to your theme part vacay or you’re making a special trip, check out Cigar City Brewing. Known for their Jai Alai IPA and Florida Cracker Belgian, there’s a reason these beers are award-winning in the state. They make some interesting specialty beers as well, such as the seasonal Cucumber Saison or any of their nitros. Take a sixer to-go or take a tour of the facility to see just how the magic happens.
Georgia, Creature Comforts Brewing Co.
Athens, Georgia, often overshadowed by that other Athens, is a college town that has its own unsuspecting arts and culture scene. One of the places to go is Creature Comforts, a brewery built in a historic warehouse downtown that still has that real 1940s charm. From their year-round favorites to their ultra special, Subtle Alchemy series, you can tell this crew put their hearts, souls and probably many long nights and weekends into perfecting their pints.
Hawaii, Maui Brewing Co.
Maybe you’re not a mixed drink kind of man (or woman, or whatever you identify as) or perhaps you just need a reason to visit a tropical oasis. Whatever your reason, Maui Brewing Co. is a great place to bide your time in paradise. Fresh as heck, you can indulge in a refreshing Pineapple wheat beer, the Coconut Hiwa porter or a Bikini Blonde lager, amongst others. Your young replicas can also enjoy a tasty brew…of soda, as they also make their own cola, ginger ale and root beer. You can book a tour at the facility for $15 a person or chow down at one of their three restaurants, which feature some beer-centric sauces and other craveables. Mahalo.
Idaho, Payette Brewing
Is there more to life than potatoes and beer? Some may argue otherwise, but to us, that sounds like an ideal lifestyle. Payette Brewing in Boise has made a name for itself in the spud state for their regular brews, seasonals, one-offs and 12-month aged perennials. Most of their beers have a name like something straight of the old west, such as Mutton Buster, Pistolero, Rodeo, Rustler and more. Tours here are free every Saturday at 2:00 and 4:00, plus you can snag some samples and discounts while you’re getting your learn on! Check out their food truck page to see who will be stopping by for eats during your visit.
Illinois, Goose Island Brewery
There are a lot of great breweries in the Chicago area, but what trip is complete without a trip to Goose Island? If you’re in the U.S., you probably recognize their famous IPA, pilsner or their fanciful Belgian beer, Sofie. However, if you’re in the 312, you have access to a selection the rest of the world just isn’t privy to! Try their tart golden saison, Soleil, Next Coast IPA, or Lil Moxie cream ale for a real treat. Although this staple of Chicago craft beer was acquired by Anheuser-Busch, you’ll still find the same quality and taste that you’d expect any other band of beer nerds.
Indiana, 3 Floyds Brewing
Located just outside of Chicago in Munster, Indiana, 3 Floyds sounds like an unassuming brewery, but what lies beneath the surface is anything but ordinary. With beers Named Permanent Funeral and Space Station Middle Finger, this place is not going to be everyone’s cup. Don’t let the satanic panic fool you though, these beers are crafted with (dark) love and care to create striking and surprisingly strong ales. Select beers have even been brewed in collaboration with different metal bands such as Eyehategod, Pig Destroyer, Municipal Waste and Amon Amarth. Tours are available, but if anything, be sure to check out their ridiculously robust food menu while you’re in the area. Hail sandwiches!
Iowa, Toppling Goliath Brewery
Decorah, Iowa is one of those old-timey small towns that have mostly been lost in time. But don’t let that cutesy charm fool you, you can find one of the world’s top breweries in this picturesque rural landscape. Voted the second best brewery in the world be BeerAdvocate, travelers come out of there way to get a few sips of award-winning beers here. For a surprisingly young brewery, they have certainly made their mark on the scene, especially with their stouts and IPAs. Those who prefer a less intense flavor will likely enjoy their Dorothy’s New World Lager, affectionately named after the owner’s grandmother. So go ahead and skip town to greener pastures and better beers in Iowa.
Kansas, Free State Brewing
In the wake of the slow death of Kansas’ largest brewery, Tallgrass, the smaller companies have been left to carry the torch. One of those places still standing is also one of the oldest facilities in Kansas, legally speaking. Free State Beer was born right before the 1990s hit and has been delivering top-notch beers such as their Copperhead Pale Ale and oatmeal stout consistently for almost 30 years. Hungry? Free State also features a diverse brewpub menu that pairs well with their many flagship and seasonal beers.
Kentucky, Against The Grain
What’s in a name? That which we call the Brown Note by any other name would smell as…a complex malty-chocolatey ale, duh. Get your mind out of the gutter. Actually, don’t because the website says this beer is so good it *will* make you shit yourself. I’m not sure if I’m ready to make that sort of commitment to any food or drink, but luckily at Louisville’s Against the Grain you have options. One of their other aptly named beers includes Citra Ass Down, a fruity IPA with an alcohol content of 8.2%, which is an excellent way to sit my ass down and demand a hamburger. And yes, this cheeky (no pun intended) brewery has a killer menu with ample vegan and vegetarian choices. There are no butts about it!
Louisiana, Abita Brewing Co.
Name a more iconic Louisiana beer than Abita, I dare you. Their Purple Haze and Amber beers have been around since 1986 and are widely sold at retailers around the country. When you visit the brewery just outside New Orleans, you can take a guided or self-guided tour, plus hang out in the visitor center and tap room. Abita has also partnered with a few beer-centric tour programs, so you can safely travel around the area without the annoyance of Siri instructions or an Uber driver that won’t stop talking about the pitfalls of socialism. Make sure to taste test their Louisiana-only brews, the Boot and Maison Blanc along with all their seasonals!
Maine, Allagash Brewing Company
Much like the other Portland we have all come to know and (mostly) love, Portland, Maine also has a lot of cool things happening (no pun intended). Allagash Brewing Company is one of the places that has put this New England town on the map. Known for its Belgian style ales, a true fresh breath of air in a world nearly dominated by IPAs. The white, tripel and curieux offer flavors more commonly found across the pond and the refreshing table beer offered at the brewery is a real crowd pleaser. They also provide specialty beers including their seasonals and more complex Coolship beers. Tours are free so be sure to stop by if you’re in the hood!
Maryland, Flying Dog Brewery
You may recognize the art on Flying Dog beers, that’s because it was created from the Hunter S. Thompson famed artist Ralph Steadman. Unsurprisingly, that same kind of Gonzo attitude can be found at this Frederick establishment where an assortment of beers is carefully made each day. Chock full of IPAs such as the Belgian IPA, Imperial IPA and Double IPA, Flying Dog also makes a cerveza, blood orange ale and plenty of seasonals. You can take a tour of the brewery AND get some sips in while you’re at it. Live nearby? Total nerds can enroll into Flying Dog University to get yourself a regular beer edumacation.
Massachusetts, Tree House Brewing Company
About an hour outside of Boston lies a wicked sweet brewery that might not be familiar to you, but to many east coasters, it’s a gem worth the drive. In fact, due to the high demand for Tree House beer, you’ll often find a line at the entrance or even temporary limits on how much you can buy! While they don’t offer full-on tours of the facilities, a staff member will quickly walk you through the brewery’s past and current operations. While most breweries you go to won’t be using a ticketing system, it’s still worth it to come out here and check out what all the fuss is about!