The 10 Best New England Breweries: A Beer Lover's Guide

Photo of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor28 January 2016

New England is comprised of six North Eastern states – Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine – throughout which beer lovers can indulge in some of the finest craft brews in the country. With so many fantastic local breweries in the region, it’s difficult to know where to begin the pursuit, therefore we have compiled a list of ten popular New England breweries that are, amongst countless others, worth a visit.

Tasters | Courtesy of Allagash Brewing Company

Allagash Brewing Company

Brewery, $$$
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Allagash Brewing Company, Portland
Allagash Brewing Company, Portland | Courtesy of Foolproof Brewing Company
The Allagash Brewing Company was founded in 1995, in response to the absence of Belgian-style brews in the American craft beer market. Thus the company began as a small brewery dedicated to the production of uniquely Belgian beers. After successfully producing ‘Allagash White’, a traditional Belgian-style ‘white’ ale, the brewery began utilizing the technique of bottle conditioning, by which sugar and yeast are added just before the beer is bottled, fostering a natural process of carbonation. The result is a ‘live’ beer with a unique, complex flavor. Allagash now produces six year-round and seven seasonal beers, as well as a selection of one-off and keg only beers, dedicated to marrying innovation and tradition. The Allagash Brewing Company offers free hour-long tours as well as guided tastings and reservations are recommended.

Foolproof Brewing Company

Beer is devotedly crafted to enhance simple life experiences at Foolproof Brewing Company, which utilizes the unique concept of ‘experience-based brewing.’ From ‘Backyahd’, a bitter India Pale Ale that pairs well with a barbeque, to ‘Raincloud’, a rich and comforting robust porter perfect for a rainy day indoors, Foolproof is the perfect accompaniment. The brewery hosts tastings each Friday evening, and hour-long tours are conducted by friendly and knowledgeable staff on Saturdays. Guests can opt to make a reservation, otherwise tours are first come first serve. Private tours are also available upon reservation. Gain a first-hand look at how this up-and-coming local brewery produces its array of acclaimed beers; well worth a visit for anyone in the Pawtucket area.

Foolproof Brewing Company, 241 Grotto Avenue, Pawtucket, RI +1 401 721 5970

Harpoon Brewery

Craft Ale Bar, Snacks
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Harpoon Brewery
Harpoon Brewery | © Patrik Urban / Alamy Stock Photo
Harpoon Brewery began in 1986 with a prime location in a warehouse on the Boston waterfront, aiming to produce an innovative series of craft beers. The brewery offers seasonal IPAs, ales, stouts and ciders, featuring rich, complex flavors for winter, spicy autumnal accents and fruity, refreshing tones for spring and summer. The original Boston brewery offers tours and tastings at select times from Monday through Sunday, and guests can enjoy fresh pretzels with their pints in an on-site beer hall. Harpoon’s alternative location in Windsor, Vermont also offers brewery tours from Fridays through Sundays, an indoor seating area overlooking the bottling line and an outdoor beer garden. Drawing inspiration from a genuine love of craft beers, Harpoon Brewery is well worth a visit for beer lovers across New England.

Hill Farmstead Brewery

Over 200 years of tradition, history and heritage give Hill Farmstead Brewery its unique charm. Located in remote North Greensboro, Vermont, the brewery produces small, controlled barrels of highly popular beers inspired by the owners’ family members and famous philosophical ideas, including collaborations with other brewers, a one-off and a single hops series. Hill Farmstead Brewery aims to stay small and local and produces delicious, innovative and inspired brews without sacrificing quality. As a result, Hill Farmstead beers are notorious for a unique and thoughtful balance of flavors. Tours of the brewery are not offered at this time, but guests are welcome to explore the on-site brew house and retail areas during hours of operation for beer tastings.

Hill Farmstead Brewery, 403 Hill Rd, Greensboro Bend, VT +1 802 533 7450

New England Brewing Company

Listed as one of the top 20 American breweries by Beer Advocate in 2009 and 2010, the New England Brewing Company is one of the premier breweries in Connecticut State. No longer one of Connecticut’s best-kept secrets (much to the dismay of loyal locals), the brewery produces both experimental and traditional craft beers, ales and lagers, and is perhaps best known for ‘Gandhi-Bot’, a highly sought after ‘intensely hopped double India Pale Ale’. Guests are invited to stop by and sample what’s on draft or fill a growler – a half-gallon jug that holds 4 pints – of your favorite beer. Lines are typically long at the New England Brewing Company, but loyal patrons promise that these high quality and flavorful beers are more than worth the wait.

New England Brewing Company, 175 Amity Road, Woodbridge, CT +1 203 387 2222

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Taproom | Courtesy of Night Shift Brewing, Inc.

Night Shift Brewing, Inc.

The product of a passion for ‘nocturnal home brewing’, Night Shift Brewing, Inc. began in 2012. Merging curiosity with innovation, Night Shift continues to make a significant contribution to New England’s craft brewing movement. Through trial, error and tireless experimentation, the three friends behind Night Shift have refined a highly popular and diverse selection of unique craft beers, from sour and wild to barrel-aged. All products are brewed from start to finish on-site in their Everett microbrewery, where friendly and informed staff are happy to assist with recommendations. The brewery’s taproom is open seven days a week and free daily tours are available. With a Bring Your Own Food policy, beer on draft, flight options, growler fills and bottles for sale, Night Shift fulfils all your day and night beer desires.

Night Shift Brewing, 87 Santilli Highway, Everett, MA +1 617 294 4233

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Boston Brewery Hop Garden | Courtesy of Samuel Adams Brewery

Samuel Adams Brewery

Craft Ale Bar, Snacks
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You can take a tour of the Samuel Adams Boston Brewery
The Sam Adams brewery offers tours and tastings in a lovely setting | Courtesy of Samuel Adams Boston Brewery
Samuel Adams found its commercial start in 1984 as a family recipe passed down the generations, and wound up at the forefront of the New England beer movement and beyond. Just six weeks after the original Boston Lager was first released in pubs and bars, it was voted ‘Best Beer in America’ at the Great American Beer Festival. That same year, Samuel Adams’ Boston Lager became the first American beer sold in Germany. Today, Samuel Adams produces over 50 different beers to include year-round, seasonal, barrel-aged and limited releases. After 30 years of astounding success with more accolades than any other brand in the world, Samuel Adams is one of the most popular breweries in New England. Stop by for a tour and tasting on select days.

Smuttynose Brewing Company

Creativity and community come together at Smuttynose Brewing Company, where quality, award-winning beers are made in the New England tradition. The brewery offers several year-round series as well as seasonal and one-off batches. Smuttynose recently relocated to the rustic and charming Towle Farm in Hampton, New Hampshire from Portsmouth, boasting a larger brewing space and increased sustainability. The brewery is now Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and dedicated to repurposing all reusable waste. By growing hops on-site and beekeeping on the grounds, Smuttynose produces fresh, delicious beer with a conscience and maintains its roots as a small local brewery. Guests are welcome for free daily tours and tastings, but a voluntary $2 donation will go to a selected charity.

Smuttynose Brewing Company, 105 Towle Farm Road, Hampton, NH +1 603 436 4026

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Courtesy of Tree House Brewing Co.

Tree House Brewing Co.

Beer lovers across the country are hard-pressed to find a brewery with more charm than Tree House Brewing Co. in Monson, Massachusetts. The small brewery produces a variety of ales inspired by the seasons, moods and thoughtful innovation. Tree House is a draft and retail-only brewery focused entirely on the freshness and quality of their beer, and patrons eagerly line up to fill growlers of their favorite brews. Amongst a range of highly desirable beers on year-round and rotational offer is ‘Julius’ – a refreshing and hoppy American IPA that features fruity tones of passion fruit, mango and citrus – which was impressively ranked 55th in Beer Advocate’s listing of 250 best beers in the world. It is recommended that guests check the website for availability prior to visiting the brewery.

Tree House Brewing Co., 160 East Hill Road, Monson, MA +1 413 523 2367

Trillium Brewing Co.

Craft Ale Bar, American
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Trillium is one of the top-rated craft brewers in the country
Trillium is one of the top-rated craft brewers in the country | © Rebecca Delman / Culture Trip
This family owned craft brewery opened in the spring of 2013, blending traditional New England expertise with modern innovation. Trillium Brewing Co. has quickly become one of the leading craft breweries in Massachusetts, producing a diverse variety of farmhouse ales to include the ever-popular Fort Point Pale Ale with dry hops, passion fruit and citrusy tones. While tours are not currently offered, a welcoming and knowledgeable member of staff can answer your questions. Visitors are also invited to stop by and sample the beers on tap in the tasting room, fill up a growler and peruse the shop. A laidback urban setting in which to relax and enjoy a pint, Trillium Brewing Co. is a worthwhile experience for beer lovers across New England. Check the website for updates and availability.

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