If you’re like the vast majority of Americans, there’s nothing like cracking into a new craft beer or discovering an off-the-beaten-path brewery. Craft beer and local breweries are as much a part of the American fabric as baseball and apple pie, and the little brewer doesn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, according to The Atlantic, craft breweries are still thriving, even in the face of larger competition with deeper pockets.
No matter where you are in the country, there’s bound to be a craft brewery near you, serving up unique styles, blends, and mouthwatering beers. These suds will quench your thirst in the dog days of a Floridan summer, or warm you up on a frigid Alaskan winter night. These breweries are serving up craft drafts with a side of community and fun. Some of them even have beer gardens, extensive menus, and beer-making classes, so pull up a stool and read on.
If you’re a craft beer lover, there’s an excellent chance that you’re familiar with Delaware-born Dogfishhead. This epic brewery now has locations all over Delaware and one in Miami, and continues to crank out delightful beers with unexpected ingredients. In addition to their off-the-wall contributions to the beer world, like IN YOUR MACE coffee milk stout, Dogfishhead excels in reinventing the classics. Their Punkin Ale is an excellent example of this, with deep pumpkin flavor, brown sugar, and gorgeous malty ale.
The Holy Grail of Dogfishhead beers is its outrageously hoppy 120 Minute IPA. This classic draught is a high-octane IPA with a big, bold, fresh flavor that’s perfect for sipping on a summer’s day. If you want fewer hops but all of the taste, check out their 60 Minute or 90 Minute IPAs. They’re made by the same process, but hopped for less time. Stop into Dogfishhead for a tour of the brewery and sample some of their signature beers straight out of the tap.
Taos Mesa Brewing
There’s no conspiracy about the out-of-the-world taste of Taos Mesa Brewing in Taos, New Mexico. Their brewers simply know their stuff and are happy to host you in “The Mothership,” where you can soak in the mountains and even take in a concert or art exhibit. Two things make this Southwestern brewery stand out: their great taproom and brewery, and the fine quality of the beverages they have right on site.
Some standout beers include Deep Thought #42, a lovely, hazy IPA that’s brimming with juicy flavor and plenty of hops. Kolsch 45 is a great pick too. It’s a very balanced ale with German hops, yeast, and a touch of European malt. If you’re looking for something to sip on after a long hike, Kolsch 45 is the one. In addition to their standard offerings, Taos Mesa Brewing always has something new on tap for you to sample.
Placentia, California’s The Bruery isn’t hung up on any one particular style. Instead, their brewmasters use years of industry expertise and their own sophisticated tastebuds to guide them as they go through the brewing process. Thanks to their open-mindedness and ability to think outside the box, The Bruery is easily one of the best breweries in the country, creating a whole tapestry of different offerings, each with its own style and flair.
Take Licuados, a fruit-forward imperial pastry stout that’s packed with cinnamon, vanilla, and banana notes. Although it’s got a lot going on, Licuados is never too overpowering. Instead, the beer is both refreshing and robust. Love Bites is another beer made in the same style but has a decidedly different taste and feel. Love Bites is a chocolaty, decadent, memorable beer with luscious strawberries and cacao. Visit the brewery to take a peek behind the curtain and watch the brewmasters do their magic while sampling unique new flavors and blends.
The West Coast of the United States has some famously fantastic craft beers, so it makes sense that one of the best would be in Seattle, Washington. Visit one of Cloudburst Brewing’s two convenient locations, and you’ll enjoy fantastic, innovative beers among great company. Their locations are friendly, welcoming places with an ever-changing list of beers that will make any true enthusiast think that they’ve died and gone to hops heaven.
Cloudburst Brewing excels at DIPAs, or double IPAs. These hearty, hoppy beers are the ultimate treat. Take Not A Scientist, which boasts a hefty 8.4 percent ABV and uses some scientific techniques and wacky ingredients to create the perfect draught. You’ll get tons of fruity tangerine notes in every sip, but it’s never overly sweet. Come for the beer, and stay for the community or vice versa, but make sure that you check out Cloudburst Brewing.
Of the many things that Great Notion does well, two super standouts are its whimsical beers and personal app, where you can collect points, beers, and badges to open up new characters. If you’re a beer enthusiast and a gamer, get thee to Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, Washington to go check out Great Notion in person. True to form, Great Notion’s breweries are a feast for all of the senses, and you can see where your favorite beers are manufactured.
Some of their best offerings are also their most off-the-wall drafts, like Strawberry Fluff. It’s a boozy celebration of vanilla, cotton candy, and bright strawberry flavors. Apricult is another exceptional offering. It’s a sour IPA packed with rich tangerine, apricot flavors, and plenty of hops. However you like your poison — hoppy, malty, fruity, or straight-up magical — Great Notion has something just for you. So download the app, stop in to say hi, and prepare to be overwhelmed by beer-y goodness.
Third Space Brewing
Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Third Space Brewing is a fantastic place to kick back and chill in gorgeous Menomonee Valley. Their brewery is vast, with a beautiful dog-friendly beer garden outside and plenty of premium brews and snack food to nibble on. As if suds and doggos weren’t enough, Third Space Brewing also offers Beer School, where you can learn what makes your favorite beers taste so great, and get unique insight from one of the brewery’s master beer craftspeople.
Of course, if you’re more in the mood for drinking rather than learning, you can always sample a pint of Third Space Brewing’s finest, like Nice Day IPA, which is full of grapefruit, passionfruit, mango, and plenty of hops. Unite The Clans is a Scottish ale with warm malt and plenty of toffee notes. It’s got an excellent balance of flavor, and is a perfect example of this beer style.
Speciation Cellars in Grand Rapids, Michigan, produces naturally-inspired beers and wines that celebrate local ingredients and showcase each drink’s individual style. Their beautifully-appointed brewery is a great place to chill out and have a pint of fresh beer, tart cider, or tasty wine with your friends. You can also talk to local brewmasters and get an idea of how they make their signature suds.
You should definitely try out a few beers when you’re at Speciation Cellars. Their Subspecies NE Pale Ale is an excellent example of a dry-hopped pale ale, balanced with just the right amount of malt. If you’re looking for something a little darker and heavier, you really can’t go wrong with Reinforcement, a vanilla-laced imperial stout tinged with notes of maple and cinnamon. Rest assured, everything that you can get at Speciation Cellars is sure to please your palate and have you coming back for more.
Great Lakes Brewing Company
Cleveland, Ohio’s Great Lakes Brewing Company is an old-school brewery pumping out some of the best classic beers in the eastern United States. One of the very cool things about Great Lakes Brewing Company is that most of its beers have locally-inspired names, like the Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA and the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. Check out their taproom in downtown Cleveland, and you’ll get to sample all of their best brews, plus plenty of pub favorites, like mouthwatering hamburgers and fries.
One of the best beers at Great Lakes Brewing Company only comes around once a year, and if you’re on Santa’s nice list, he might bring you a sixer of it. Christmas Ale is a fresh, malty beer packed to gills with ginger, honey, and a festive burst of cinnamon. You can also try the aforementioned Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA, with tons of hops and tropical fruit flavor. If you’re looking for something deeper and darker, the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, named after Lake Superior’s famous shipwreck, is your best bet.
Funky Buddha Brewery
If you’re in the Sunshine State and want to grab a great beer to sip while you soak up some Vitamin Sea, give Funky Buddha Brewery a try. This Oakland Park staple creates experimental and traditional blends that are flavor-forward and delicious. It’s like getting your own little slice of nirvana in every can. True to the name, Funky Buddha Brewery’s beers are a bit on the funky and whimsical side while still paying homage to tried-and-true beer traditions.
Some of their standout offerings are classic styles with a Florida twist. The Floridian is a wheat beer full of spicy clove and sweet banana. It’s the ultimate summer beer, perfect for enjoying right at Funky Buddha itself or bringing to the beach. Pineapple Beach is another excellent pick. It’s a beautiful, tropical combination of mild blonde beer with plenty of tart pineapple flavor. Visit their main brewery to see what other taste sensations are on tap.
When you think of Hubbard’s Cave in Niles, Illinois, five words should pop immediately into your mind: Milk of the Murder Hornet. Milk of the Murder Hornet is undoubtedly one of the best milkshake IPAs in the United States, and maybe even in the entire world. Although this dreamy draft comes in multiple flavors, strawberry is the true standout. It tastes like the best strawberry milkshake that you’ve ever had, with a velvety texture and just the slightest bite from the hops.
Although Milk of the Murder Hornet is Hubbard Cave’s most iconic beer, they have plenty of other artfully produced beers, like French Toast, which is a robust imperial stout that’s heavy on maple syrup and cinnamon. You’ll get a hint of vanilla in there too, and plenty of creaminess from the lactose. So visit the good people at Hubbard’s Cave and try these fantastic beers right out of the tap. You’ll be sure to bring home a six-pack — or three.
You don’t have to go all of the way to Bruges, Belgium, to taste some phenomenal Belgian-style beer. Instead, just pop over to Cooperstown, New York, and visit Ommegang Brewery for exceptionally crafted, Belgian-style beers. Ommegang Brewery is such a staple in Cooperstown that they participate in a giant beer festival during the summer, showcasing Belgian beer, local food, and plenty of great music.
One of Ommegang Brewery’s top drafts is Hennepin, a golden-hued Saison that’s flecked with different spices, plenty of citrus, and a nice hit of ginger on the end. It’s completely drinkable all on its own or paired with a plate of cheese and fruit. However, if you’re looking for something with a bit more bite, check out Neon Rainbows. This New England-style IPA slightly diverges from Ommegang Brewery’s traditional Belgian offerings, but the formula is right on point, with plenty of juicy hops and delicious citrus flavor.
Honolulu Beerworks is a craft beer legend in the heart of Hawaii, known for working with local ingredients and aging their beers in fun and unexpected ways. It’s also a great place to relax for the afternoon. You can soak up the sun and atmosphere while admiring some great art as you take a sip of whatever new fantastic brew Honolulu Beerworks has cooking. There’s a great outdoor garden and plenty of indoor seating.
Although Honolulu Beerworks makes some excellent beers, their Barleywine is one of the most exceptional items on the menu. It’s full of deep, fruity flavors and has just a hint of toffee and caramel. It’s not overly sweet, so you will taste a little bit of everything in each sip. The Intergalactic Party Punch Vol. 4 is another excellent choice. This IPA isn’t for the faint of heart, and at 7.2 ABV, it packs a punch, but it’s also a lovely brew with plenty of peach, mango, and pineapple flavors.
Russian River Brewery
Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California, is a legacy brewery that’s been delighting Californians with its innovative beers since 1997. Although it’s changed names and owners a few times throughout the years, the consistent quality of Russian River Brewing Company’s products has remained the same. This brewery excels at creating Belgian-style beers big on hops and flavor. One of their flagship offerings, Pliny the Elder, remains a perennial favorite for beer enthusiasts. It’s a nuanced, delicious brew that is exemplary of form, style, and taste.
Not only does the Russian River Brewing Company put out some fantastic beers, but they also have a tremendous brewpub and beer garden, plus guided tours of the whole works. You can spend the day learning the secrets of Russian River Brewing Company’s top beer masters, then pick up a six-pack and some merchandise to bring home. It’s a must-visit for beer enthusiasts.
Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company
Visit Charleston, South Carolina’s Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company for some great food, excellent beers, and pure Southern hospitality. Their brewery, taproom, and restaurant have your favorite suds, good pub grub, and tons of tapped beers that you won’t find anywhere else. It’s a beautiful brewery to pass the afternoon, and you can choose between plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, including their custom AstroTurf field. Since Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company is a dog-friendly establishment, your fur buddies are more than welcome to join you outside.
There are also some spectacular beers on tap, like Edmund Oast’s Peanut Butter & Jelly, a warm brown ale with plenty of nutty peanut and jelly flavors. The great thing about this beer is that neither the peanut butter nor the jelly are overwhelming. You definitely get them both, but the brown ale shines through too. Something Cold is an exemplary example of a premium blonde ale with strong barley notes and hops and is indicative of Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company’s commitment to quality and style.
Black Spruce Brewing Company
Up north, in the cold reaches of Fairbanks, Alaska, Black Spruce Brewing Company is waiting to warm up your frigid days with one of their award-winning beers. This friendly and funky brewery prides itself in constantly refining each of its craft offerings, and you can certainly taste the craft and skill in every sip. It’s a fun place to hang out, with a cool, off-beat vibe and friendly atmosphere. Although you can enjoy it in bottles and cans, Black Spruce beer is best straight out of the tap.
Their Short Days Golden Ale is a vibrant, golden beer, heavily scented with plenty of orange peel. You can taste the delicate malt and fruity hops right away. It’s a bold beer without being too overpowering. Jerry Juice IPA is another great pick from this brewery. It’s a great beer for people who don’t like overly hoppy offerings, but still want that signature bitterness in their glass.