These days in the U.S., it’s all about beer. Craft beer, that is.
Craft beers and microbreweries are exploding in popularity across the country. For beer aficionados, this is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because now there’s a ton of excellent beer to try. And a curse because it’s impossible to taste all of the new brews.
There might be a solution to this problem. We’re getting close to road trip season, so why not take a trip to visit some of the best beer destinations America has to offer?
Whether you want to drive from coast to coast or stay in your neck of the woods, we’ve put together a guide to fifteen of the best beer spots to visit, broken down by region. Here’s how to plan a trip that’s all about beer.
West Coast & Southwest
San Diego has so many craft breweries that it’s now called the “Capital of Craft.” (There are more than 130 breweries, by the way). Check out our first two picks here, then check out Denver’s unforgettable craft beer scene. Close it out with some bonus picks in Arizona and Oklahoma.
1. Stone Brewing Company — Escondido, CA
If you’re looking for a brewery tour, beer garden, bistro and retail experience all in one, there’s no better place to start your all about beer road trip than Stone Brewing.
This brewery just outside of San Diego quickly became famous for its IPAs, which earned rave reviews. They offer seasonal beers as well as special releases for certain occasions.
Plan your trip around one of the festivals they host or stop by any time to check out the beer garden. The food is all organic, and they even have a wine list if you feel like switching things up.
2. The Lost Abbey — San Marcos, CA
This brewery might not actually be an abbey — hence the “lost” — but that doesn’t stop it from having one of the most unique brands out there. Their crusade? Waging war against evil beer.
Lost Abbey has only been around since 2006, but within three years of opening, it had already won three Small Brewery of the Year titles. It even won Champion Small Brewery at the 2008 World Beer Cup competition.
Try a seasonal, year-round, or “non-denominational” beer while you’re in their tasting room. If you want to bring furry friends, kids, or outside food, head to The Confessional instead. You won’t find a priest, but there will be good beer.
3. Blackshirt Brewing Company — Denver, CO
After you wrap up in California, hop in the car and head over to Blackshirt Brewing in Denver. This brewery isn’t just all about beer — they’re also all about the music.
Blackshirt combines their taproom, beer garden, and brewery with concerts and album release parties. If you just happen to stop by on any random day, you can almost guarantee that there will be live music on the patio to listen to as you sample one of their specialty beers.
Don’t worry if you indulged just a little bit too much. It’s one of the stops on the Drink RiNo bus, so just sit tight and someone will be around to pick you up and take you to your next stop.
4. Glenwood Canyon Brewpub — Glenwood Springs, Co
It’s only about a two hour and forty minute drive from Denver to our next brewing company, but don’t worry — you can rest when you get there. Our next place that’s all about beer happens to be conveniently located in Hotel Denver.
The Glenwood Canyon Brewpub and Hotel Denver go hand in hand since the opening of the brewpub helped to revitalize the area around the hotel. You can choose from ten different brewing styles or even enjoy cider if you’re looking for a change of pace. Their brews have won awards across the world, so you know that whatever you choose, you’re bound to enjoy it.
5. Prairie Artisan Ales — Tulsa, OK
Had your fill of Colorado beer?
Hit the road again and head to Tulsa, Oklahoma. Even if Tulsa isn’t usually on your list of places to visit, you don’t want to miss stopping by Prairie Artisan Ales. They were named one of the top 100 breweries in the world for good reason.
All of their beer is Okie brewed and available to try at their brewpub. They have twenty beers on draft, another seventeen available bottled or canned, and seasonal beers that are rotated year-round. Whatever you happen to have a thirst for, they’ll be able to satisfy it.
Plus, the beers are brewed on site, so you’ll be able to watch the magic happen as you eat.
6. Arizona Wilderness — Gilbert, AZ
Of course, if Tulsa is too far away, you can always hit up Arizona instead. Don’t let the name fool you — Arizona Wilderness is not actually in the middle of nowhere. Gilbert, Arizona is just southeast of Phoenix, which has its own brewery and distillery scene.
You won’t be able to get your hands on one of their craft brews outside of Phoenix, so traveling here is a must if you want to sample their offerings. They try to make beers that are reflective of their home state of Arizona.
Try their Crystal Eyes double IPA brewed with Arizona Wildflower Honey, or the “Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert” with Arizona lemongrass.
The West Coast and Southwest aren’t the only regions with craft beer culture on the rise. At this point, Wisconsin is practically a synonym for beer paradise. We’ve got a couple places from this beer-crazy place on our list of Midwest places that are all about beer, as well as stops in Michigan and Chicago. Keep reading to find out our picks.
7. Brewery Creek — Mineral Point, WI
Back in 2013, CNN named Brewery Creek one of its top ten places to go on a luxury beer vacation. You really can vacation here — Brewery Creek isn’t just a brewpub, it’s also a hotel with an inn cottages available for reservations.
The inn, brewpub, and brewery are all in the same building, so this is a perfect place to stay on a road trip that’s all about beer. You’ll definitely want to spend a lot of time in the brewpub. They serve a selection of craft beers from local Wisconsin breweries, as well as their own that they make in-house.
Enjoy their extensive list of craft beers and ciders while enjoying a bite to eat before heading up to your room to repeat everything in the morning.
8. Northwoods Brewing Company — Osseo, WI
Wisconsin might be full of breweries, but Northwoods still managed to be the first microbrewery in west central Wisconsin. Their bar is styled like a lodge, so stop by, settle in, and get comfortable with one of the twenty-eight beers that are on tap.
The beer is brewed on site, and yes, you can take some fresh beer to go. Whether you just want a six-pack for the house or a keg for a party later, Northwoods has got you covered.
Most of these beers have a lower alcohol content, so you can sip one and safely drive to our next stop.
9. Dark Horse Brewing — Marshall, MI
No list all about beer would be complete without mentioning Dark Horse Brewing Company in Michigan. In their own words, they make “bad ass beer” — and their legions of fans definitely agree with that.
They offer both a taproom and a beer garden, though you’ll want to plan your visit accordingly if you’re trying to enjoy outdoor seating in Michigan. Fans of stout beer will definitely want to try one of the stouts they have on offer, or maybe a brown ale suits your tastes better.
Whatever you have a taste for, you’re sure to have a great time.
10. Metropolitan Brewing — Chicago, IL
Our last Midwest stop is Metropolitan Brewing in Chicago. They’ve just moved into a brand new location, which they’ve been happily filling with craft beer enthusiasts seven days a week.
Their specialty is German-style lagers, and they want to change the perception that lagers are flavorless and pale. If you’re already a lager fan, this place is a must-visit for you. If not…see if Metropolitan Brewing can make you a convert.
They really are all about beer here. No food at this taproom, but you’re welcome to bring your own deep-dish pizza.
Traditionally, the South hasn’t exactly been known for its craft beer production. These places are aiming to improve the South’s reputation when it comes to being all about beer.
11. Chattanooga Brewing Co — Chattanooga, TN
Chattanooga Brewing Company was started more than a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, thanks to Prohibition, it was closed for most of that time.
It’s since been restarted by two beer enthusiasts, so fans of German-style beer can drink their fill in Tennessee. Their beer selection is smaller than some of the other breweries on this list, but they more than make up for the quantity with the quality of their brews. Make sure that you try the ale, and come by on the weekend if you’re interested in brunching.
12. Blackberry Farm — Walland, TN
If you really want to treat yourself to a luxurious trip, look no further than Blackberry Farm, just outside of Knoxville. Blackberry Farm has a brewery on-site, but it’s first and foremost a resort tucked away in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Book a cottage or a suite and take your time exploring — the resort sits on about 4200 acres of land. Of course, you’ll want to make your way over to the brewery, which has won multiple awards for its craft beer. Their canned beer line was just released, so you can take some back home with you as a memento.
The last stop on our road trip that’s all about beer is, of course, the East Coast. Like much of New England, these places hang on to their colonial history when it comes to beer — but in different, delicious ways.
13. Dogfish Head Inn — Lewes, DE
If you drink beer, you’ve surely heard of Dogfish Head beer. You might not have known, though, that company also owns and operates its own inn.
If you want to explore both the brewpub and the brewery, you can use this hotel as your base camp to see both. (And enjoy some of the tasty brews on site, of course.) The whole place is designed with beer lovers in mind. They take being “all about beer” to the next level.
Buy a package to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the brewery, as well as a driver to chauffeur you from hotel to brewery to brewpub. Always great to have a designated driver handy!
14. Jack’s Abby — Framingham, MA
Jack’s Abby is one of the newer breweries on our list — they were only founded in 2011. In the seven years they’ve been around, they’ve already made a big splash on the craft beer brewing scene.
Don’t go looking for an IPA there. This brewery is all about the lager, and lager only. You can try any of the twenty-four beers they have on tap at the beer hall or fill up a growler to take with you on the road as you continue your beer tour. Just make sure you grab a bite of their wood-fired pizza before you leave.
15. Tired Hands Brewing — Ardmore, PA
By the time you make it to Tired Hands Brewing in Pennsylvania, your hands might be tired from all the driving. Or from lifting pint after pint to your mouth to drink. Power through, though, because you won’t want to miss the last stop on our list.
You can feel great about stopping here since Tired Hands isn’t just all about beer. They’re also all about giving back to the community and getting more women and people of color to get into brewing beer.
You’re going to want to spend a lot of time in the Brew Cafe.
It’s not just the beer that’s brewed on site. They also bake their bread right in front of you and serve delicious food. How good? They were a semi-finalist in 2016 for a prestigious James Beard award. When was the last time you heard of a brewery doing that?
Learn All About Beer
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