America's 10 Best Brewery Visits Slideshow
Located near Asheville, N.C., or the reigning "Beer City USA" for several years running, Pisgah is a certified organic brewery. With more than 15 brews (both seasonal and year-round) on tap, a fire pit, pool tables, and a stage for live music, their warehouse brewery is an ideal hangout during any time of year. Brewery tours are free and on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. There are no age limits for the tour, but you will have to show an ID if you wish to sample these delicious pints.
With more than 50 breweries within its city limits, Portland is one of the top beer destinations in the country — if not the world. Southeast Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewery produces 10,000 barrels of craft beer annually, and hosts weekly tours of the 20-barrel, 100 percent renewably powered facility. Still thirsty? Ten draught and at least one cask ale are available every day in the brewery’s highly popular pub and bike bar.
Inspired to recreate traditional craft brews with a distinctly regional identity, Fullsteam offers brews that celebrate "the culinary and agricultural traditions of the South." They source from local farmers and beer-related businesses to create unique tastes by using ingredients including grits, sweet potatoes, and scuppernong grapes. They’ve won several awards in recent years, including a 2013 Good Food Award for First Frost: a crowd-sourced winter persimmon ale. Their repurposed warehouse tavern is family- and dog-friendly with large tables and a regular line of food trucks outside.
Located some 50 miles outside of Washington, D.C., Flying Dog offers frank, funny brewery tours that cost just $5 and include pours of up to five beers and a commemorative tasting glass. When the staff feels like cooking, Flying Dog will serve complimentary barbecue alongside house brews like In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen and the intimidatingly named Raging Bitch IPA. Sometimes craft beer is a cruel mistress.
Flickr/Amber Waves Rally
The largest craft brewery in a city that knows from craft beers, Stone Brewing Co. is a vital stop on any beer lover’s itinerary. Daily tours take visitors into the inner workings of the 55,000-square-foot facility, and helpful guides lead tastings of four craft beers, including one limited-release brew. Coming soon is a brewery-adjacent boutique hotel, promising an immersive beer experience and eliminating the question, "So, who wants to drive?"
Yes, Orlando. Beyond the theme parks lies one of the country’s top emerging culinary scenes, with James Beard Award-winners and a new class of brewmasters upping the gourmet game. Ravenous for microbrews, thirsty Orlandoans and in-the-know travelers helped local Redlight Redlight grow from a boutique beer stop to a modern-day sudsy emporium, serving 23 drafts and more than 250 bottles of IPAs, farmhouse sodas, and even meads. Check out the new digs on Winter Park’s Corrine Drive for a fresh taste of Southern hospitality.
When Belgian conglomerate InBev acquired St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch in 2008, beer enthusiasts feared for the fate of American brewing. Schlafly Bottleworks, the Gateway City’s proudly independent craft brewery and tap room, presents a bold counterargument. The 20-year-old brewery produces some 50 handcrafted beers per year, half of which are available exclusively in St. Louis. Free tours run on the hour every Friday through Sunday, guiding guests through Schlafly tastings as well as its on-site "brewseum" of St. Louis beer history.
In addition to having one of America’s hottest food scenes, Charleston has a thriving beer community. Family-owned COAST stands out for its commitment to sustainability. Located in a formal naval base, the expansive facility runs entirely on recycled biodiesel waste, and even works with local farms to repurpose its used beer grains as livestock feed. Tours include tastings of four cold house brews — exceedingly important, given the heat of the brewery itself — as well as behind-the-scenes look at the organic brewing process.
With its uber-pure water, brewer-friendly laws, and Mile-High elevation, Denver produces more than its fair share of incredible craft beers. Every October, the city gets sudsy at its annual Great American Beer Festival; in the meantime, check out Wynkoop Brewing Company, Colorado’s first brewpub and a downtown institution housed in the 1899-era J.S. Mercantile Building. Twenty beers on tap celebrate local brewers, like Great Divide Samurai, Mile HI.P.A., and the brewery’s own Wynkoop Collective Hoppiness.
New York’s homage to Belgian brewing offers complimentary tours of its 136-acre facility, plus tastings of up to six of the award-winning, house-made ales. Located on a former hops farm in the Susquehanna River Valley, the brewery happens to be a mere four miles from Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame. In spring 2013, Ommegang brewmaster Phil Leinhart is launching a series of Game of Thrones-inspired brews. First up? Iron Throne, a blonde ale as smooth and sultry as an Emilia Clarke clone.
Flickr/Smitten with Kittens