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!
Each beer tasted was phenomenal; awesome cabin-style atmosphere
Solid beer; super location; massive fire pit; built to be a hangout for bike lovers; rad patio!
Delicious food; beautiful garden atmosphere with open air bar; courtyard with cages of tropical rescue birds
Postcard-perfect town and street; laid back local vibe; warm space; tasty beers
Amazing! One of the most unique breweries anywhere, very “Wonka” like; massive space
Mammoth Lakes, CA
Great things in Mammoth…snowboarding, camping, hiking and this brewery! Chill atmosphere, friendly staff, cold beer
Perfect spot for beer enthusiasts; Phenomenal! Exceptional saison/farmhouse ales; cult following
Incredible brewery experience, fabulous welcoming beer garden, beautiful indoor space, huge IPA selection
Wonderful atmosphere! Beautiful location! Quality beer, both regular and seasonal; friendly crew
Awesome warehouse-style tasting room with cool beer can decor; huge selection of beer anchored by flagship Dale’s Pale Ale
Sleek and modern décor in gorgeous Boulder; great range of beers on the menu; love the lightweight cans for the environmentally-conscience
Great beers, free brewery tour with free samples; fun place to hang out and play bocci and cornhole; cool atmosphere
Unique beer flavors in funky setting; seriously awesome beer tour
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
Fantastic beer; super friendly staff; love the tasting room, very cool decor
Delicious, well-known beers; always packed; restaurant serves “famous” popcorn with bacon
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
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!
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!)
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
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
Two Harbors, MN
Awesome beers; light, sunny taproom; fun games; friendly people
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)
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
Huge taproom open space, “comfortable industrial”; spacious outdoor beer garden with fireplaces; fantastic food and beers; great destination brewery
Chill brewery in huge warehouse with picnic tables; hipster crowd; fun location to bring friends; tasty beers
Cabin-like tap room; nice patio set up with food and games; really well-crafted beers
Best Mocha Porter and Black English Ale! Great tasting room atmosphere; laid back and friendly
Watkins Glen, NY
Spectacular, friendly outdoor beer garden; beers made from local ingredients (hops, malts, fresh Seneca Lake water)
Chapel Hill, NC
Local spot to meet and hang out with friends and enjoy a beer; has a great pub feel; beers are outstanding
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
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
Great place to hang with friends or have a relaxed date night; sensational collection of beers; good restaurant with recommended food and beer pairings
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
Great industrial-style atmosphere in an enormous space; delicious food, always with new, fresh menu items; lots of good heavy beers
Beer is phenomenal, amazing food; nice open space, cool vibe, very relaxed; always packed!
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
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
Farmhouse brewery in a unique country location; brew some cool “wild ales” with local ingredients
North Greensboro, VT
Serene country farmhouse brewery experience; offer several series of unique beers; lots of cool family history
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!
Local favorite, hipsters, bands, unique events, bocci court; rustic warehouse type space; large outdoor hangout space with food trucks; known for “famous” Gingerbread Stoudt
Beer is excellent and innovative; can’t beat the secluded, country atmosphere; beautiful views
Small town, fun vibe, cool people, yummy beer, lots of IPAs!
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.