While we’re still in the midst of the winter months, there are sure signs that spring is on the way. We’re referencing days when the sun seems to shine a little brighter, the temperatures are a little higher, and you don’t even need a sweater or light jacket. With spring around the corner, the time is right to start planning that spring (and summer road trip). And while there’s nothing wrong with visiting a touristy beach destination or massive amusement park that may or may not have a cartoon mouse as its mascot, we prefer our road trips to at least include a pint or two of beer waiting for us at our final destination. That’s why we plan road trips to visit breweries.
Lucky for us (and you), there are more than 9,500 breweries currently operating in the United States. This means that (almost) anywhere you live there are at least a few decent breweries within a short drive.
But if you really want to get the most out of your warm-weather road trip, you’ll seek out some of the award-winning, more heralded, and just downright innovative breweries that litter this country. To find some of the best, we went to the source. We asked a few well-known craft beer experts and brewers and they were gracious enough to let us in on their favorite breweries that every beer fan should visit this year. Keep scrolling to see their ten picks.
Hogshead Brewery (Denver, Colorado)
Jim Bruckner, head brewer at Bootstrap Brewing in Longmont, Colorado
I’m going to go back to Hogshead. They brew so many traditional cask options and imperial pints. It also has a great atmosphere (it’s small but has a great pub feel to it). Summers are awesome on the patio and in winter you huddle inside with awesome beer. If you visit, try the Chin Wag ESB. It’s malt-forward and well-hopped. A truly special beer.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery (Milton, Delaware)
George Hummel, grain master of My Local Brew Works in Philadelphia
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery is always a fun visit. The thing that separates Dogfish Head from the others is they don’t view it as just a beer and brewery but as a lifestyle. It’s a great tour and a great visit. When you’re there, visit the eccentric, exciting brewery, and the innovative distillery, and stop in at the Brewings & Eats restaurant in Rehoboth Beach.
Reuben’s Brews (Seattle)
Jeremy Marshall, brewmaster at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California
I very much recommend visiting Reuben’s Brews in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. If you’ve ever seen those logos curiously resembling the symbol for pi, you’ve seen that unmistakable letter “r” that is for Reuben’s. Lurking behind this humble, unsuspecting name is a juggernaut of amazing beers. I’m blown away by how many beers, cover a huge breadth of styles, with every single one always being top-notch. I dare you to go to Reuben’s Brews and find a beer you don’t like, plus the folks there are very friendly, family-oriented, and helpful.
Highland Brewing (Asheville)
Kevin McGee, founder of Healdsburg Beer Company in Healdsburg, California
Highland Brewing in Asheville, North Carolina. Go there. Highland is leading the East Coast in providing a destination and experience at their brewery, putting the 40-acre “campus” (my word, not theirs) to great use. There’s a classic tap room but also hiking trails, beach volleyball courts, a meadow with an outdoor stage and bar to lounge at, and a disc golf course. More than this, Highland is also great people and is still family owned and operated after almost thirty years in business.
Pryse Brewing (Minneapolis)
Garth E. Beyer, certified Cicerone® and owner and founder of Garth’s Brew Bar in Madison, Wisconsin
Pryse Brewing in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The space is incredible, the brick-oven pizza, too. Oh, and about that beer? They’re one of those rare breweries that can tackle a variety of styles extremely well. Another way to think about Pryse is its approachability. No matter where one is on their craft beer journey, they’re bound to find something to love at Pryse.
Very Nice Brewing (Nederland, Colorado)
Jeff Smith, co-founder and ringmaster at LUKI Brewery in Arvada, Colorado
Very Nice Brewing Company in Nederland, Colorado. They were a big inspiration for us to develop a taproom-only model with our brewery. It’s an incredibly chill place to visit, with a local’s vibe but very welcoming to those outside the community. Jeffrey Green crafts some amazing beers, many times sourced with hyper-local ingredients, and I always find something unexpected and delicious. The Royal We IPA and the Very Nice Pale Ale always find themselves in my growlers when I’m passing through.
Suarez Family Brewery (Hudson, New York)
Kyle Warren, lead brewer at Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company in Framingham. Massachusetts
Suarez Family Brewery. Much has been said about their beers in the past few years and do not be mistaken, they are fantastic and well worth the journey, but the warmth and welcoming nature of Dan and Tay, and the taproom they built are what will keep you coming back for another experience. It is a simple space with floor-to-ceiling windows, communal seating, and a window that gives you the slightest glimpse into the product space. Occasionally a local food vendor will be set up selling tasty offerings like pretzels, choucroute, or other beer-friendly nourishment. It’s a place to ponder a beer, be convivial, relax, and just enjoy. Despite their growing popularity, their kind staff managed to keep the space feeling calm, casual, and intimate. Unfortunately, Covid put an end to that space and it likely will not be coming back in the same form. In its stead, the Suarez’s opened up a small outdoor space behind the brewery last summer, dubbed the Tap, so that one could not only come to the brewery and take away its wares but also hang out in a safe space and have a pour of the one beer they tapped for that given day. One beer, a far cry from the full draft, bottle, and cellar list that was once available, and yet, still a fulfilling experience. With The Tap the Suarez’s succeeded again, by creating another lovely space for a beer and an opportunity to just enjoy.
Allagash Brewing (Portland, Maine)
Joe Mashburn, head brewer of Night Shift Brewing in Boston
Everyone should visit Allagash in Portland, Maine this year. It’s a wonderful spot, with wonderful people, and wonderful beer. Portland is a great beer city on its own with various other great breweries worth stopping in to as well. But make Allagash your first stop and grab an Allagash White or one of its many Coolship beers and limited releases.
Urban Roots Brewing (Sacramento)
Bryan Donaldson, brewing innovation manager at Lagunitas Brewing Company in Petaluma, California
While you might not think of Sacramento, California as a beer destination, you would be wrong. And one brewery that stands out as a must-visit is Urban Roots Brewing. The space is nicely done and the food is spectacular, but of course, you go to a brewery for the beer and Peter is making great beer. You can find something for any palate there, from light lagers to barrel-aged stouts and all kinds of hop-forward brews.
Wicked Weed Brewing (Asheville)
Josh Bartlett, founder of Learning to Homebrew in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Asheville, North Carolina is absolutely bursting with fantastic breweries, but I can’t recommend Wicked Weed Brewing’s trio of spots around town enough, especially the original Brewpub and the Funkatorium. At both locations, you’ll find a delicious variety of beers (including some harder-to-find styles), full food menus with excellent bang for your buck, and well a well-stocked bottle and souvenir shop. Oh, and the brewpub also has a free tour.