Sure, you can find all your favorite beers at the supermarket or liquor store, but for a real connection to your brew, you need to see how it’s made. Many breweries around the country now offer tours (usually with included tastings). These six are among the very best, and offer a sampling of just how varied the American beer scene is. From the Coors and Anheuser-Busch juggernauts to craft beer maestro Dogfish Head, these breweries are all worth a long drive for a visit. Just watch how much you drink if you plan on driving home.
Anheuser-Busch has breweries in California, Colorado, Florida and New Hampshire, but the real tour, you have to head to the St. Louis location, where it all began in 1852. The free tour is offered year-round and includes a look at how Budweiser is brewed and packaged in staggering quantities. You also get to meet the famous Clydesdale horses that have starred in many Super Bowl commercials over the years, and can enjoy a beer in the “Hospitality Room” at the end of the tour.
If Budweiser is the present of American brewing, Yuengling is its past. Pottsville, Pennsylvania is home to the country’s oldest brewery (Yuengling also has a location in Tampa). Guided tours show visitors the hand-dug fermentation caves, relics of a time before refrigeration. Over an hour and fifteen minutes, the tour covers the history of the beer, all the way back to 1831, when Yuengling moved onto the Mahantango Street site.
The Milwaukee waterfront is a terrific urban escape, and the Lakefront Brewery is part of the reason why. Unlike at most breweries, visitors to the Lakefront microbrew operation get to sip beer throughout the tour, rather than having to wait until the end. It’s a sweet deal, too. For $7, you get the tour, a souvenir pint glass, and four 6oz pours of beer- better than you’ll find in just about any bar.
In the restaurant-packed neighborhood of Williamsburg, Brooklyn Brewery tours bring up food nearly as much as drink. Tours are offered all week long; before and afterwards, visitors can hang out in the communal tasting room, have pizza delivered, and enjoy one of the best beers the borough has to offer. On Sunday, the brewery hosts a mini-food fest, what they call “a great way to remedy your looming Monday pre-sadness.”
It may not look like much, but the Dogfish Head Brewery pumps out nearly 50 craft beers and is a giant in the field. It’s also the best reason to head to Milton, Delaware. The free tours for groups of 12 run every day except Sunday and Monday, and include four samples of some of the best beer in the country.
It’s not surprising that a tour of the brewery that brought us the “wide mouth vented can,” the “Code Blue” can and bottle includes a “fresh beer room” where visitors can hang out on ice cube benches. Located in Golden, Colorado, right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the Coors brewery is the world’s largest single site operation. The half hour tour is self-guided, and includes a look at how the beer is malted, brewed and packaged.