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The craft beer scene in the United States continues to rapidly grow. NPR reports over 5,300 US breweries currently exist and over 5,200 of them are craft beer places (in 2012 there were only 2,000 breweries).
This article lists some great craft beer places around the United States. I include only one per state and some travel writer friends also provided suggestions. Please do not consider these the best craft beer places or the only ones you must go to. These are merely suggestions, a starting point, and I encourage you to explore the craft beer scene and let me know what you discover and like.
Great Craft Beer Places to Celebrate in USA
Virginia – Crooked Run Brewing
Since I live in Virginia it was difficult to choose only one craft brewery. I love craft beer places with magnificent views, great beer (of course), fun people, or inspiring stories. The most unique—yes, I am going with unique—selection of beers I have found is brewed at Crooked Run Brewing in gorgeous Loudoun County. While sipping the Cherry Cayenne blend (yummy) I asked the brewmaster how many unsuccessful batches he has produced. He said 1 out of over 150 was just too weird to serve to the public. Love the creativity and pushing of boundaries here.
New York – Grist Iron
OK, for this craft beer place I AM selecting a gorgeous view. Grist Iron overlooks Seneca Lake (in the Finger Lakes area of New York state). The modern brewery building has a lot of patio space to enjoy the views along with comfortable indoor space to enjoy the vibe. They serve great food and the property also has a magnificent lodge to stay in.
Oregon – Pelican Brewing
Perhaps their slogan of #BornAtTheBeach attracted me. Their beer tap handles most definitely appeal to me. We recently stopped at Pelican Brewing for a pint after visiting amazing Cannon Beach and discovered a packed building. Seems like a super popular place for dinner, too. Next time!
Colorado – Grist Brewing
Grist Brewing is run by a few science geeks. Nothing wrong with that, since most brewmasters are amateur chemists. At Grist, though, they are proud to flaunt that they combine science and creativity. The Grist Brewing nerds create small batch experiments so you should visit often.
Florida – Naples Beach Brewery
There is just something about the Florida craft beer scene. Well, not just the beer but pretty much everything in Florida. How else to explain Moon Pie stouts? Indeed, Naples Beach Brewery in Naples, Florida takes some liberties with their brew concoctions but that makes it interesting. Definitely try their tropical fruit infused brews, plenty of watermelon, pineapple, and mango varieties to make your taste buds dance.
Louisiana – Crying Eagle
This brewing passion project launched after extensive research; that is, visiting countless brews around the US. In other words, these guys did not take the traditional path from home brewers to opening up shop in a warehouse. Amazing craft beer was their goal from day one and they have a magnificent facility for their product line, which complements (not overpowers) the spectacular southwest Louisiana food.
Alabama – Big Beach
Summertime lasts a little longer at Alabama’s beaches than most of the USA and the living is always easy. Alabama’s southernmost brewery brews a variety of beers and correlates them to popular mass produced beers. For instance, they will tell you, if you like the big brewer’s ABC, then try Big Beach’s XYZ. Nothing complicated here, just relaxed refreshments among friends (old and new).
Pennsylvania – Aldus
Aldus is named for the 14th century genius from Venice, Italy who invented the italic font but also first produced books for the masses. The latter is the passion of this brewer who wants to take the fear out of craft beer and create craft beer thats easy to drink. Plus Aldus Brewing occupies the original Snyder’s Pretzel factory so that is very cool.
Delaware – Crooked Hammock
In the shadow of the big fish, Crooked Hammock is a family-friendly, fun place to get your beer groove on. Enjoy the plentiful outside space, games and activities, live music, and, yes, hammocks. The brewed on site beer compliments the scrumptious food (mmmm, pulled pork sandwich!) or makes a splash on its own.
Hawaii – Kona Brewing
Kona Brewing is probably the largest craft brewer on this list. While buying a six pack of liquid Aloha from my local grocery store in Northern Virginia is fun, visiting the real place in Kona is so much better. Mahalo!
Maine – Sea Dog Brewing
Sea Dog might be the oldest craft brewery on this list—founded in 1993—and has locations in three states. I am a long-time fan of their Wild Blueberry beer. It is perfect with fresh steamed lobster.
Suggestions of other great craft beer places from some travel writer friends:
North Carolina – Fullsteam Brewery
I can’t mention craft beer in the Research Triangle (my home) without mentioning Fullsteam. The owner Sean Lilly Wilson is a big deal in the craft beer world, considering he was a big factor behind the “Pop the Cap NC” movement that led to the state’s removal of the six percent alcohol level cap in 2005. By the way, Fullsteam makes some wonderful beer (Rocket Science is my favorite and supposedly Wilson’s, too) and serves flights in the most fitting container I’ve seen.
Illinois – Dovetail Brewery
We love German beer and Dovetail Brewery gets as close as we’ve ever had this side of the Atlantic. These brewers have such respect for the traditional brewery methods that they shipped a copper beer kettle from a 1000-year-old brewery in Germany to Chicago to brew their beer. The water they use is carefully filtered and formulated to replicate German water. It’s also individually formulated for each beer. To say they take their brewing seriously is a huge understatement.
Massachusetts – Brew Practitioners
Brew Practitioners in Western Massachusetts is a unique experience in every way. Step into this converted auto repair garage, and you’ll be struck be the fun design. Taste their beers and you will realize that they have a true passion for brewing. Their mega flight is a beer lovers delight, with generous portions and multiple varieties ranging from special IPAs to smooth stouts. Each is amazing in its own way.
As you road trip around the USA, make sure you spend a little time at some of the amazing and creative great craft beer places.
Do you have any other great craft beer places to recommend? Leave a comment below.