There are a lot of things I want to accomplish before I move up to the big bar in the sky, of course there is riding a motorcycle to Dollywood, eating a corn dog from every state fair in the country, and one of the most important items on the agenda is making an appearance at all my favorite breweries. As someone who prides myself as an avid beer drinker, brewery tours are a normal part of my weekend shenanigans. I dare you to tell me something better than free beer and getting to view the magic of creating such a spectacular beverage. The following breweries are on my list of places to visit before I die, not only because of their tasty and unique beers, but also because their brewery tours just happen to be some of the most eclectic in the country. So after you read this list and decide you must accomplish visiting them as well, I’ll let you know that you’re free to join me but you must bring corndogs.
Magic Hat Brewing Company – Burlington, Vermont
Something likened more to Alice in Wonderland or some random steampunk magic show than a brewery, Magic Hat Brewing Co. tops our list due to its creative design and fun atmosphere. Here there are guided beer tours as well as self guided visits that are ideal if you would like to move at your own pace. Four free samples are included so you’re guaranteed to try their delicious concoctions even if you’re short on cash. Man’s best friend is also welcome, so get the leash for Sparky and let him join in on the Magic Hat fun.
As the oldest brewery in the country Yuengling deserves a visit. Nestled in beautiful rural Pennsylvania not only does it look like something out of a postcard but there is beer! And lots of it. Founded in 1829, this brewery remains family owned, and it isn’t out of the ordinary to find a Yuengling owner around the grounds meeting with visitors. The coolest feature about this free beer brewery tours is getting to visit the underground cave that was once used for storing and aging beer. They have quite the modest setup but the historical fixtures of this tour make Yuengling Brewery well worth the visit.
New Belgium Brewing – Fort Collins, Colorado
With a community vibe and laid back atmosphere this is a Fort Collins must see. Said to have incredibly fun and engaging beer tour guides, that alone seems to make the experience. Lasting 90 minutes, they are very generous with their samples so be sure to drink some water and chill out a bit or have a designated driver. Outdoor seating and games, the feeling of community, and good beer are all a driving force in making New Belgium Brewing a must-visit.
Kona Brewing – Hawaii’s Big Island
Okay, Okay we’ll admit that any brewery in Hawaii needs a visit. I mean the sand between your toes and cold beer in hand? Kind of makes me think I already died and went to heaven, but I digress. Not only is Kona Brewing located in one of the most beautiful states in America but it also has a really sweet facility. Like most of the other breweries to visit on our list, you get free samples which is a definite bonus. There is a small fee for the tour but with all the rich knowledge you get, it’s a small price to pay. Big on sustainability in order to maintain the beauty of the island, you’ll learn a lot about the innovative practices Kona Brewing is utilizing.
Stone Brewing – Escondido, California
Move at your own pace at Stone Brewing. With the option to take a public or private tour you can choose your level of intimacy at this wonderful beer facility. With the small cost of $3.00 you will get to travel through the brewery and learn more about their processes, not by tour guides but what they like to call their “Indoctrination Specialists”. Lasting only 45 minutes, you’ll have plenty of time to leisurely sample their fantastic beers. What really sets Stone one of the best brewery tours is their joint restaurant “Bistro” that promotes environmental sustainability, and high quality food. Some items on their menu include: Duck tacos, Shrimp & Grits, and an all organic vegetable platter for those of the vegetarian or vegan variety.
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc – Milton, Delaware
A totally unique experience, Dogfish is not only a must visit for beer lovers but for anyone with even a slight interest. Not only are their beer tours completely free but so are their samples (4 to be precise). Your dog friends are not welcome on the tour but on their grounds and in their tasting room if Fido does well with crowds. Lovers of everything off-centered and creative, Dogfish encourages you to bring an art piece or craft to place on their tasting room ceiling so you can literally leave your mark. Other added features are their steampunk treehouse, and Bunyan’s Lunchbox that provides dishes that pair fantastically with their brews.
Anchor Brewing Company – San Francisco, California
With such a high demand, and being located in such a populous city, you must cough up 15 bucks and make a reservation for an Anchor brewery tour but it is of course worth it. Located in a factory built in the 1930s you are guided through three floors and then welcome to try some scrumptious beers. In 2013 Anchor announced a new facility on Pier 38 complete with a restaurant, museum, and educational center. Construction on their 212,000 square foot facility is due to start within the next year.
Brewery Ommegang – Cooperstown, New York
With an old world feel, Brewery Ommegang doesn’t simply have game of thrones beer to offer. Featuring a restaurant, Cafe Ommegang, you can mosey on over for some eats after your tastings. Menu items include: veggie burger, bratwurst, and chicken waffles. While tours are free, tastings are $5.00 but also include a souvenir glass, which makes it quite the deal. An outdoor patio completes the communal experience, making it a great place to sip some awesome beers and talk shop with kind fellow beer loving strangers. Also a venue for concerts, Brewery Ommegang should be a definite stop on your brewery tour list.
Great Lakes Brewing – Cleveland, Ohio
Great Lakes MicroBrewery and Brewpub combines great beer and tasty food, what else can you ask for? What we love about this tour is the combination of tastings with the tour, sip on your samples while learning about their rich history and processes. Beer tasting tours are $5 but also include 4 delicious samples. Big on sustainability like so many other fantastic breweries, Great Lakes goes as far as to host environmental sustainability events for local business owners. The adjoining brewpub offers unique dishes such as: Fall chicken curry, Pumpkin gnocchi, as well as more traditional dishes such as pizza, and burgers. Next door is the eco-friendly beer garden that has a retractable roof, heated floors, and straw bale walls as fixtures.
Rogue Ales – Newport, Oregon
I’m sure I’m not the only beer drinker to say Rogue is one of my favorite breweries, in fact I am a speck of dust on the beer collective that absolutely loves this daring brand. Not only serving up funky fresh and different styles of brews (Beard Beer, anyone?) they have a refreshingly unique take on what a brewery should be. With different locations you can choose brew tours at their waterfront headquarters in Newport, public house and distillery located in Portland, or choose to visit their farming lands in Independence where you can see their honeybees, plants, and other small critters. With events happening all the time such as concerts, and art shows, Rogue is a quite the experience.
Monday Night Brewing – Atlanta, Georgia
Priding themselves on creating beer for weeknights (because partying on the weekends is overrated) Monday Night Brewing is just the fun escape you need after a long day at work. You have the choice to schedule a private tour or their public tour, and it’s a fun time either way. Being INCREDIBLY generous, Monday Night’s tour will cost you $12.00 but that will include their educational craft beer tour experience, souvenir pint glass, and SIX free samples. Bring a tie for their tie wall and get a $1.00 off pint glass, because why not? Dogs are welcome on their patio so you can literally bring the entire family. Can’t make it out to Atlanta? That’s fine. Stop by their website for a virtual tour.