The best brewhouses in the nation—featuring the tastiest pints you'll ever sip, from seasonal beers to extra hoppy IPAs.
Laura Kiniry 1 / 11
Bells Brewing, Inc
America's best beers and brewhouses are no longer limited to the Pacific Northwest and cities like Asheville, NC, which have been leading the country's craft brewing renaissance over the last decade. And with the industry—one that’s all about innovation—reaching new heights these past several years, choosing a beer can be stressful. There are <em>tons</em> of options out there these days.
So to help you separate the wheat from the chaff, we've narrowed it down to 10 of the greatest craft beer producers across the U.S. Some we love simply for the beers and the stories behind them, while others get bonus points for their community involvement and environmental efforts. Either way, you can impress your friends by having these ice-cold brews on hand—and maybe even plan a visit to one of the breweries (many are open to the public) if you’re going to be in town.
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Sixpoint Brewery, Brooklyn, NY
Founded by former homebrewer Shane Welch in 2004, Sixpoint has since become one of Brooklyn's most beloved institutions. This has to do as much with their creative brews—beers like Diesel, a dark rich blend that has elements of both a stout and an IPA—as it does their community involvement. Sixpoint is known for incorporating locally sourced ingredients into its offerings, supplying its Red Hook neighborhood's homebrewers with yeast (in exchange for a few of the resulting brews), and hosting worthwhile happenings. Among the more popular: their annual Beer for Beasts tasting event, from which all proceeds go to the Humane Society of NYC. (<a href="http://sixpoint.com/" target="_blank">sixpoint.com</a>)
Fullsteam, Durham, NC
Fullsteam owner and “Chief Executive Optimist” Sean Wilson has been working overtime to help improve laws relating to North Carolina's craft industry. His latest project? Creating beers that scream “Southern.” The brewery's Apothecary series incorporates heirloom grains, locally farmed goods, and even botanicals into beers like Summer Basil and the smoky Hogwash. And its aptly named Forager series uses crowdsourcing to collect surplus ingredients such as persimmons, paw paws, and figs from public land and private yards, resulting in beers that are—literally speaking—wild. (<a href="http://www.fullsteam.ag/beer/" target="_blank">fullsteam.ag</a>)
Linden Street Brewery, Oakland, CA
Linden Street Brewery
There's no restaurant or tasting room at Oakland's Linden Street Brewery, just a top-notch production facility that specializes in “Old California Style” lagers, the kind that originated in the city pre-prohibition. While their focus is bringing a lost way of brewing back to the region, they do so with a modern twist. For example, their Urban Peoples' Common Lager is more golden in color than its coppery predecessor. Linden Street beers are available at drinking and dining establishments citywide. (<a href="http://lindenbeer.com/" target="_blank">lindenbeer.com</a>)
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB), Portland, Ore
Hopworks Urban Brewery
In a city known for having excellent craft beer, breweries need a little something extra to stand out. HUB focuses its efforts on sustainability—everything from a biodiesel fired brew kettle to a tasting room bar made from recycled material. Beers are organic and go great with the brewery's menu of soups, sandwiches, and pizzas. Across town is Hopworks' Bike Bar, combining Portlanders' two great loves: beer and bicycling. Forty bike frames (all made by local custom frame builders) hang above the bar, and outside are two Plug-Out stationary bicycles that generate electricity back into the building's grid when pedaled. (<a href="http://hopworksbeer.com/" target="_blank">hopworksbeer.com</a>)
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, Milton, DE
Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales
Since first opening its doors in 1995, Dogfish has been known for its creative—even outlandish—brews, like Chicory Stout, a dark beer made with organic Mexican coffee, St. John's Wort and roasted chicory. What was once America's smallest commercial brewery now produces nearly 20 styles of beer and—in addition to its larger Milton facility—boasts both a small experimental brewery and a spirit distillery at Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in Rehoboth Beach, DE. (<a href="http://www.dogfish.com/" target="_blank">dogfish.com</a>)
Flying Fish Brewing Company, Cherry Hill, NJ
Flying Fish Brewing Company
Begun in 1995 as America's first virtual brewery, the now brick-and-mortar Flying Fish has grown into New Jersey's largest craft brewery—known best for producing distinct Garden State-centric beers and a new production facility that showcases recycling, reuse and conservation. The brewery pokes fun at its Jersey heritage with its ongoing Exit series: beers influenced by each exit of the Jersey Turnpike. An example is their Exit 11—Hoppy American Wheat, a fresh, citrus-tinged summer beer using the nearby Jersey Shore as inspiration. (<a href="http://flyingfish.com/" target="_blank">flyingfish.com</a>)
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company, Half Moon Bay, CA
Half Moon Bay Brewing Company
When the fog dissipates over Northern California's coastal Half Moon Bay, patrons come out in droves to sip pints of Bootlegger's Brown Ale and Maverick's Amber Ale—named for the area's annual big wave surf competition—upon Half Moon Bay Brewing Company's spacious outdoor deck. The brewery also hosts a series of community-friendly events like “Brews & Views”, a free monthly political lecture and discussion. Plus, you can be sure you’ll get a tasty pint since they’ve been brewing for 10 years onsite. (<a href="http://hmbbrewingco.com/" target="_blank">hmbbrewingco.com</a>)
Bell's Brewing, Inc., Kalamazoo, MI
Bell's Brewing, Inc.
Bell's Brewing Inc, which started in 1985 with nothing more than a 15 gallon soup kettle, is now a regional craft brewery employing more than 165 people and brewing over 20 beers for distribution. Despite its large size, it is still possible to get a taste of the small-batch, only-served-here beers that imbibing geeks travel miles for at the brewery's Eccentric Cafe in Kalamazoo, MI (the website's 'Tap Cam' shows you what's available on any given day). Bell's also has its own General Store, which offers homebrewing advice and stocks everything from malt & fermentables to a two-tap refrigerator conversion kit. (<a href="http://bellsbeer.com/" target="_blank">bellsbeer.com</a>)
Austin Beerworks, Austin, TX
Opened in May 2011, Austin Beerworks is the only brewery in Texas' Capital City to produce its beers strictly in cans. Why the aluminum? Cans get cold faster, they're better for the environment than bottles, and they protect beer better. Beerworks' specializes in four basic brews—including Pearl Snap German-Style Pilsner and Peacemaker Extra Pale Ale—that are easy to drink and go down smooth. While there's no tasting room at the brewery's 8,500 square-foot warehouse, you'll spot their stylized cans at bars, restaurants and house parties across town. (<a href="http://austinbeerworks.com/age-verification/?from=/" target="_blank">austinbeerworks.com</a>)
Falls City Beer, Louisville, KY
Falls City Beer
A Kentucky favorite dating back to 1905, Falls City went through a series of changes and ownerships (even leaving the city in 1978) until gaining the sad reputation of a low-cost lager. But this all changed in 2009, when local boy David Easterling purchased the lapsed trademark and revived the fledgling brand, and today Falls City is Louisville's great success story. Easterling brews his beer as an English pale ale similar in style to the beer's 1930s heyday, and locals couldn't be happier. Although there's no brewpub or facility to visit, Louisville's original craft brew is available at bars and restaurants citywide (just look for the neon signs). (<a href="http://fallscitybeer.com/” target="_blank">fallscitybeer.com</a>)