At one time, American brewery tours were limited to giant brands attached to theme parks. With the explosion in US craft beers, however, enthusiasts can find tasty tours all over the country, whether it’s in a bus visiting burgeoning breweries or on foot through some iconic producers. Here are seven cities, including some unexpected options, to get your travel and beer on at the same time.
You might not think of the Steel City as a vacation destination, but in recent years Pittsburgh has become nationally recognized for its excellent craft beer scene. Several tour companies give you the chance to explore breweries all over the city, including the acclaimed Brew Gentlemen in Braddock and Allegheny City Brewing Company in the Deutschtown neighborhood. If you’re the independent type, a stroll through the Lawrenceville section or the historic Strip District will lead you to some of the best small crafters in the city.
Denver has a deep history with beer, having first started brewing since the city’s founding in 1859. The first city’s government was formed in a saloon that still stands today. The popular Denver Microbrew Tour offers the opportunity to explore different neighborhoods on foot, with an experienced guide leading you to discover many local crafts in “the Napa Valley of Beer.” Whether it’s the arty River North/RiNo district or the historic LoDo (lower downtown) area, there’s a lot of beer to like in the Mile High City.
Since barbecue and beer go so well together, it stands to reason that Kansas City offers beer lovers a chance to go behind the scenes. Boulevard Brewing Co. is perhaps the best-known craft brewery in the city, but those looking for diversity would do well to check out the KC Beer Tour, which explores smaller but no less great brewers, such as Stockyards Brewing and Torn Label, and takes you around the city in a funky school bus. The more adventurous can take advantage of the Kayak and Craft Beer Tour and ride some rapids before enjoying a well-deserved beer.
If you like history along with your beer, a visit to Bell’s Brewery should be in your plans. Established in 1985, Bell’s started as a one-man show using a 15-gallon stockpot. Today, guests can enjoy a walkabout of the facilities, ending up in the aptly named Eccentric Cafe and beer garden, which has over forty beers on tap and offers terrific food as well. Tours are also available at Bell’s second brewery in nearby Comstock.
If you’re a fan of IPAs or just want to concentrate on one great brewery, this small town in Delaware is home to the brand that took Imperial IPAs nationwide, Dogfish Head. Its signature brew, 90 Minute IPA, is its most familiar offering, but in its twenty-plus years of existence, Dogfish Head has created an outstanding lineup of other brews, including hybrids such as Sixty-One, a Syrah wine and beer combination, and the fruity seasonal Aprihop. While Boston Beer Company, home of Samuel Adams, recently purchased Dogfish Head, anyone interested in craft beer evolution will find this tour—which is free, by the way—well worth their while.
The City by the Bay is home to the first craft brewery in America, Anchor Brewing, a must-visit for beer lovers. Those looking for something a little different, though, may want to check out the Alcatraz Combo Tour run by SF on Tap. It starts with a morning visit to the legendary prison island to explore the grounds and enjoy the spectacular views. It evolves into an afternoon walking tour that takes you into famous San Francisco neighborhoods such as Haight-Ashbury or North Beach to indulge in great beer and food and learn more about the city’s busy brewing scene.
Hershey’s main claim to fame may be chocolate–and there’s nothing wrong with that–but this picturesque town in east-central Pennsylvania is also home to Tröegs Independent Brewing, considered one of the best microbreweries in the US. Tröegs offers both self-guided and guided tours through its ninety-thousand square foot production facility, with plenty of opportunities to sample its offerings. Those who want to do a deeper dive will want to check out the Splinter Tour, which focuses on Tröegs’s small-batch beers aged in bourbon barrels. Don’t miss the Art of Tröegs Gallery, featuring artists who have participated in the brewery’s yearly art contest and produced everything from labels to food truck decorations.
In recent years, American craft beer has become as varied and widespread as wineries. A great brewery tour is not only fun (and delicious) but an excellent learning experience for beer lovers and novices alike. Because these spots are becoming increasingly popular, you’re bound to find one near you. Start your search today and get ready for great beer and a fun time!
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