As a craft beer lover, one of my favorite things to do when traveling – or, heck, even hanging out in town – is visiting local breweries. So what makes a great brewery? Well, you need to ask the experts. And who are the experts exactly? In my book, it’s WE THE PEOPLE – the beer-lovers of the world. So in conducting my research of “must visit” craft breweries across the United States, I reached out to the coolest beer experts that I know – my friends – and asked them for their favorite brewery experiences. Whether it’s the location (at the beach, on a lake, in the heart of the city, on a mountain or in the country) or the atmosphere (funky, urban, hippy, industrial or vibrant) or the beers (innovative, flavorful, traditional or hoppy), the key thing that I learned is, visiting a brewery is really more than just popping in to get a brew. It’s a total interactive, sensory, learning experience. If you have a “successful” brewery visit, you actually gain an understanding of the culture, hospitality, flavors, people, scenery and even history of the area. That’s pretty cool. It’s education through beer. I like it!

So here they are; 45 breweries/brewpubs that my beer-loving friends from around the country recommend, along with some key “tasting” notes. Next time you’re traveling, take a peek at the list and pop in to one of these happy places. There’s even a handy map that you can print out and take with you. Or, hey, maybe even hang it up and cross places off as you go. Goals, right? And as always, I love to hear your suggestions! What are your faves? I’ll add them to my “must visit” list. Cheers, my friends!


Arizona

Arizona Wilderness Brewing

Gilbert, AZ

Each beer tasted was phenomenal; awesome cabin-style atmosphere

Petal Haus Brewery  Petal Haus Photo

Tempe, AZ

Solid beer; super location; massive fire pit; built to be a hangout for bike lovers; rad patio!

The Perch Brewery and Pub

Chandler, AZ

Delicious food; beautiful garden atmosphere with open air bar; courtyard with cages of tropical rescue birds

California

Coronado Brewing Co.

Coronado, CA

Postcard-perfect town and street; laid back local vibe; warm space; tasty beers

Lagunitas Brewing Company

Petaluma, CA

Amazing! One of the most unique breweries anywhere, very “Wonka” like; massive space

Mommoth PhotoMammoth Brewing Company

Mammoth Lakes, CA

Great things in Mammoth…snowboarding, camping, hiking and this brewery! Chill atmosphere, friendly staff, cold beer

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales

Capitola, CA

Perfect spot for beer enthusiasts; Phenomenal! Exceptional saison/farmhouse ales; cult following

Stone Brewing Co.

Escondido, CA

Incredible brewery experience, fabulous welcoming beer garden, beautiful indoor space, huge IPA selection

Colorado

Liquid Mechanics Brewing

Lafayette, CO

Wonderful atmosphere! Beautiful location! Quality beer, both regular and seasonal; friendly crew

Oskar Blues Brewery

Longmont, CO

Awesome warehouse-style tasting room with cool beer can decor; huge selection of beer anchored by flagship Dale’s Pale Ale

Upslope Brewing Company Upslope Photo

Boulder, CO

Sleek and modern décor in gorgeous Boulder; great range of beers on the menu; love the lightweight cans for the environmentally-conscience

Delaware

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Milton, DE

Great beers, free brewery tour with free samples; fun place to hang out and play bocci and cornhole; cool atmosphere

Florida

Cigar City Brewing

Tampa, FL

Unique beer flavors in funky setting; seriously awesome beer tour

Ulele

Tampa, FL

A FAV in Tampa, big spot for locals; awesome location on the river; walls and floors are covered with artwork; fantastic food and several in-house brews

Illinois

Half Acre Beer Company

Chicago, IL

Fantastic beer; super friendly staff; love the tasting room, very cool decor

Revolution PhotoRevolution Brewing

Chicago, IL

Delicious, well-known beers; always packed; restaurant serves “famous” popcorn with bacon

Maine

Allagash Brewing Co.

Portland, ME

Tasting room has a great atmosphere; weekends are packed with locals and visitors, enjoying the gorgeous bar and cool keg tables; cornhole spot in the biergarten outside

Atlantic Brewing Company

Bar Harbor, ME

Great way to spend the afternoon in Bar Harbor; lots of outdoor seating; order from Mainely Meat and get an Atlantic Brewing Company beer…the BBQ is a must!

Marshall Wharf Brewing Co. Marshalls Wharf Photo

Belfast, ME

Off the beaten path; awesome place on the edge of the bay; bartenders were super nice; interesting and delicious beers (including one made with seaweed!)

Massachusetts

Buzzards Bay Brewing

Westport, MA

Good local brew in a farm setting; housed in a gigantic old barn amidst an active farm; nice sized tap room with darts and corn hole; outdoor events on weekends feature farmers markets and other local vendors, a food truck and often local shellfish

Michigan

Bell’s Brewery

Kalamazoo, MI

Indoor space is beautiful, with a huge beer menu sure to satisfy any taste; the food is creative and tasty; great live bands; very cool outdoor space

Minnesota

Castle Danger Brewery

Two Harbors, MN

Awesome beers; light, sunny taproom; fun games; friendly people

Dangerous Man Brewing Co.

Minneapolis, MN

Best beer in town! The microbrewery is always packed with hipster 20 – 30 somethings, drinking the brand’s famous peanut butter porter and chocolate milk stout (yes, the brews actually taste like peanut butter and chocolate milk)

Lake Monster PhotoLake Monster Brewing

St. Paul, MN

Just opened a brand new taproom in St. Paul; the brick and metal, industrial building complements the Lake Monster brand and creates a gorgeous atmosphere for casual beer drinkers and connoisseurs alike

Surly Brewing Co.

Minneapolis, MN

Huge taproom open space, “comfortable industrial”; spacious outdoor beer garden with fireplaces; fantastic food and beers; great destination brewery

New York

Brooklyn Brewery

Brooklyn, NY

Chill brewery in huge warehouse with picnic tables; hipster crowd; fun location to bring friends; tasty beers

Captain Lawrence Brewing

Elmsford, NY

Cabin-like tap room; nice patio set up with food and games; really well-crafted beers

Iron Flamingo Brewery

Corning, NY

Best Mocha Porter and Black English Ale! Great tasting room atmosphere; laid back and friendly

RoosterFish PhotoRooster Fish Brewing

Watkins Glen, NY

Spectacular, friendly outdoor beer garden; beers made from local ingredients (hops, malts, fresh Seneca Lake water)

North Carolina

Carolina Brewery

Chapel Hill, NC

Local spot to meet and hang out with friends and enjoy a beer; has a great pub feel; beers are outstanding

Outer Banks Brewing Station

Kill Devil Hills, NC

Who doesn’t love craft beer at the beach? Yummy food; featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives; enjoy a beer flight while hanging out in the spacious garden area listening to live music

Ohio

Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Cleveland, OH

The food is always great, and you can’t go wrong with any of the beers; three floors of fun; lower level feels especially cozy with exposed stone

Oregon

Widmer Brothers Brewing

Portland, OR

Great place to hang with friends or have a relaxed date night; sensational collection of beers; good restaurant with recommended food and beer pairings

Pennsylvania

Barley Creek Brewing Company

Tannersville, PA

Cozy and welcoming after a day on the mountain; lodge-like atmosphere; beers are awesome, food is amazing; great laid back place to hang out

Troegs Brewing Company Troegs Brewery in Hershey, PA

Hershey, PA

Great industrial-style atmosphere in an enormous space; delicious food, always with new, fresh menu items; lots of good heavy beers

Victory Brewing Company

Downingtown, PA

Beer is phenomenal, amazing food; nice open space, cool vibe, very relaxed; always packed!

Rhode Island

Foolproof Brewing Company

Pawtucket, RI

Tours consist of the owner walking you through a “day in the life,” showing what he does on a daily basis; beer is delicious; learning about their experiential approach to naming the beers is very engaging

South Carolina

Freehouse Brewery

North Charleston, SC

Small, casual, friendly brewery with nice patio and a covered picnic area; perfect venue to sit back, relax, and enjoy some well-crafted beer

Texas

Juster King PhotoJester King Brewery

Austin, TX

Farmhouse brewery in a unique country location; brew some cool “wild ales” with local ingredients

Vermont

Hill Farmstead Brewery

North Greensboro, VT

Serene country farmhouse brewery experience; offer several series of unique beers; lots of cool family history

Virginia

Blue Mountain Brewery

Afton, VA

Great beers and food (pizza…yum), sitting outside looking at gorgeous mountain views; kids running around playing cornhole with hops growing in the background. Best place on earth!

Hardywood Park Craft Brewery

Richmond, VA

Local favorite, hipsters, bands, unique events, bocci court; rustic warehouse type space; large outdoor hangout space with food trucks; known for “famous” Gingerbread Stoudt

Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery Lickinghole Photo

Goochland, VA

Beer is excellent and innovative; can’t beat the secluded, country atmosphere; beautiful views

Queen City Brewing

Staunton, VA

Small town, fun vibe, cool people, yummy beer, lots of IPAs!

Washington

Georgetown Brewing Company

Seattle, WA

Free tastings of all the beers,” inexpensive deliciousness”; purchase by growler or keg only; fantastic space, must stop-in for beer enthusiasts

Thank you to my beer-loving friends that contributed to this list: Beth, Brian, David, Debby D., Debby W., Eric, Gayle, Gene, Jason, Jennifer, Jill, John, Jules, Katie, Keila, Kim, Kristyn, Laura, Laurie, Michalea, Pia, Rosalie, Stacia and Vaden. I owe you a beer!

This post was originally published in March and updated in June, 2016.