From the editors of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®, we bring you the best guide to your beercation. Click here to download now. Read below for some excerpts from the beercation destinations.
Anyone who has ever been in or around Chicago knows that it’s a city bold in style and flavor, exceptionally vibrant, and teeming with diversity. The beer culture in Chicago is reflective of the city itself—compelling, unabashed, and progressive. As demand for craft beer continues to skyrocket, more and more Chicago breweries are entering the market and locating in just about every neighborhood around town. With this rising concentration of breweries in Chi-town, craft brewers work to differentiate themselves with experimental styles, secret hops, unusual packaging, and limited editions. Some of the breweries include Revolution Brewing, Half Acre Beer Company, Temperance Beer Company, and Lagunitas Brewing Company. Click here to get the full guide.
San Diego, California
Odds are that you’ve enjoyed a beer brewed in San Diego, even if you weren’t aware of it. Since the 1990s, this Southern California brewing stronghold has built a worldwide reputation for great beer, anchored by now-classic craft brewers such as Stone Brewing, Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, Green Flash, Ballast Point, Alesmith, Karl Strauss, and others. But in addition to these widely distributed powerhouses, San Diego County has also cultivated one of the strongest local beer scenes around, with eighty-seven licensed breweries and brew pubs, plus another thirty-three in planning.
To the uninitiated, this sounds like an enormous, and unsustainable, number. But one visit to San Diego and it all makes sense—the city loves craft beer; the breweries reach different customers in a variety of areas with individual specialties; and self-respecting beer tourists could entertain themselves for days without drinking the same beer (or brewery, for that matter) twice. Some of the breweries include Alpine Beer Co., Mike Hess Brewing, Blind Lady Ale House, and Stone Brewing. Click here to get the full guide.
The story of Vermont beer post-Prohibition can be traced to Burlington—more specifically, to the corner of College and St. Paul Streets, where homebrewer Greg Noonan and his then wife Nancy opened the Vermont Pub and Brewery in November 1988.
Nearly twenty-six years later, the pub still brews and sells pints of Noonan’s original Burly Irish Ale and Bombay Grab IPA while a culture of craft beer has sprouted around it. In Burlington, breweries such as Magic Hat, Switchback, and Zero Gravity have established the city as a beer destination, while another generation of brewers continues to write the story of Vermont beer. Some of the breweries include Infinity Brewing Company, Citizen Cider, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, and Queen City Brewery. Click here to get the full guide.
“Portland just has so many neighborhood breweries,” says Sean Burke, the head brewer at Commons Brewery in the southeast section of the city. “As a tourist here, you can pick a quadrant or five spots and walk between them, take a bus, or do a tour. Sheer numbers help, but the concentration and density of breweries really pays off.”
It’s no surprise that a city of now fifty-three registered breweries attracts some thirsty travelers. With beer tourism at a peak, Portland is getting the spotlight not only for its classic brewpubs that got the microbrew ball rolling in the 1980s, but also for its growing number of smaller niche breweries that focus on specific styles of beer and brewing methods. Some of the breweries include McMenamins, Bridgeport Brewing, Widmer Bros. Brewery, Commons Brewery, Occidental Brewing, and Cascade Barrel House. Click here to get the full guide.
The first thing you notice about Denver is the oxygen, or lack thereof. At a mile above sea level, you can lose your breath walking up a flight of stairs, and that beer you drink might hit you a little sooner and a little harder than it would at lower elevations. But that’s a small price to pay for the variety and quality of brewers who call Denver home.
“The craft-beer scene in Denver is becoming more diverse all the time,” says the Colorado Brewers Guild’s Steve Kurowski. “We’re seeing small breweries with tasting rooms open up all over the city, serving some amazing small-batch beer to their neighborhoods, as well as brew pubs with thoughtful food pairing and menus to complement house-made beers.”
This explosion of “local” means there’s hardly a neighborhood left in Denver without its own brewery, but the pressure is on new brewers to produce high-quality beer because the bar has been set so high for so long. Whether you’re into wood-aged sour beer, bright and hoppy IPAs, traditional English styles, Belgian-style ales, or even heavy metal, there’s a brewery, beer bar, and package store for you. Some of the breweries include Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project, River Noth Brewery, Copper Kettle Brewing Company, Epic Brewing, and Wynkoop Brewing Company. Click here to get the full guide.