Is there anything more American than beer? With over 4,000 craft breweries across the nation, filtering through the great and even greater can be challenging; read on to discover the 12 best breweries in the US, from patio-side hops to barrel-side tastings.
Ommegang is a Belgian-inspired farmhouse built on a 136-acre former hop farm in the town of Milford, just south of Cooperstown. Feel transported at this farmstead brewery with its old-time country feel, tree-studded hillside, and traditional Belgian-style beers. For first timers, go for the Witte Ale, a Belgian-style wheat, or the Three Philosophers, a Belgian-style quadruple ale.
Allagash Brewing Company, Portland | Courtesy of Foolproof Brewing Company
Allagash Brewing Company, Maine
Allagash Brewing, started by Rob Tod in 1995, has gone from a one-man operation to one of the best brewers in the country. Specializing in Belgian-style brews, Allagash offers free tastings (four pre-chosen three-ounce samples) and to-go beer for sale at the tap room. Grab a few bottles of the flagship beer, Allagash White, or the barrel-aged Curieux.
Founded in 1993, Lagunitas, now a Petaluma establishment, is known for their nontraditional and unique brewing styles. In 2015, it sold 50 percent of its shares to Heineken to help with expansion and is no longer considered ‘craft’ by the Brewers Association; however, the beers are still some of the best in the US, and with an outdoor site like theirs (with live music), this brewery deserves a visit.
At Odell’s tap room, beer aficionados can indulge in craft microbrews while listening to live music and lounging on the patio. Located in a historic 1915 grain elevator, Odell is Fort Collins‘ gem, there’s even local food trucks to pair with your brew. Using innovative techniques and brewing styles, Odell offers a plethora of year-round, limited-edition, and seasonal beers. Go for the 90 Shilling or Easy Street Wheat, founder Doug Odell’s first two recipes.
Rogue Ales, started in Ashland, Oregon in 1988 by three ex-Nike executives, is known for colorful, vibrant labels and unique ales. At Rogue’s flagship brewpub, beer drinkers can indulge in a long list of craft beers, along with a selection of beer-centered eats, and alongside a stunning view of Newport’s historic bay front. Go for the St. Rogue Red, Russian Imperial Stout, or Chocolate Stout, all award-winning brews.
Perennial Artisan Ales is a hand-crafted, small-batch brewery in St. Louis, using only local, seasonal, and organic ingredients, Perennial’s craft beers are sweeping the nation. At the warehouse-style brewery, take advantage of the outdoor patio and gourmet bites, sample brews, or fill your growler. Be sure to try a barrel-aged brew like the La Bohème, a wild ale aged for two years in wine barrels with Michigan cherries.
Russian River Brewing Company, located in the heart of downtown Santa Rosa, is known for their sour beers and strong IPAs (think Pliny The Elder). Originally owned by Korbel Champagne, Russian River Brewing was sold to the brewmaster Vinnie Cilurzo and his wife in 2002, and they’ve been putting up a tough competition ever since, winning numerous awards. Whether you’re a first level beer drinker or brew pro, you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Russian River.
Dogfish Head is one of the most creative brewers in the US, known for using nontraditional ingredients to produce experimental and ‘extreme’ beers like the Verdi Verdi Good, a spirulina-brewed green beer, or the Pangaea, featuring ingredients from all seven continents. At the brewery, beer lovers can sample, play bocce and cornhole, listen to live music, and indulge in beer-pairing eats. Be sure to try one of the IPAs, the brewery’s best sellers; and don’t miss the famous Steampunk Tree House, a functional piece of art made from recycled and reclaimed materials.
Great Divide Brewing prides itself on brewing strong beers (most have an ABV over seven percent). Started by Brian Dunn in 1994, Great Divide quickly became an award-winning brewery just months after releasing its first beer. At the Ballpark Brewery & Tap Room, choose from 16 different hand-crafted beers on tap (seasonal to year-round) hang out on the dog-friendly patio, or grab a bite from the food trucks. Favorites include the Colette Farmhouse Ale and Denver Pale Ale.
Headquartered in Escondido, California, Stone Brewing is known for their modern brewery with a beer garden, outdoor patio, and bistro-style eats featuring local produce. A San Diego favorite, Stone offers 36 craft beers on tap, live music, and special events like the Brewer’s Cask and special bottle releases. Most of the brews are made in the West Coast style of strong hops and a high alcohol percentage, for first timers, go for the flagship ale, Stone Pale Ale.
Kansas City‘s star brewery, Boulevard Brewing, has been bringing full-flavored, unique beers to the state of Missouri since 1989. The largest specialty brewer in the Midwest, Boulevard uses both old and new brewing techniques that give beer drinkers a memorable first impression. The two-story brewhouse features picnic tables, free beer samples, and tours. Go for the Unfiltered Wheat Beer, a Midwest favorite.
Goose Island started as a single brewpub by John Hall in 1988, now partially owned by Anheuser-Busch, it’s no longer considered ‘craft’ but still makes a solid list of beers worth mentioning. The brewery, which was built in 1995 and recently opened to the public last year, offers an industrial vibe with a tap room, tours, and beer samples. Go for the Goose IPA, one of the best sellers.