Sunday is National American Beer Day, aka the holiday made for my sister, Lorena! She’s jumping in today for a guest post. While pondering which beers to feature, she came to realize that her love for IPAs and sours may not be everyone’s two loves in life (they’re definitely NOT mine!). Instead, she’s featuring a list of some of her fave American breweries across the country. Some people do touristy stuff when they travel, but my sister and her husband go to breweries and tap rooms.
Check out her list and plan a visit to one near you…
Door County, Wisconsin
First off, if you’ve never been to Door County, you really ought to go. This brewery is a gem on the already gorgeous peninsula, and even features food trucks and a music hall! It basically looks like a barn meets country dance hall but serves up some truly delicious and quite unique brews. Did I mention they have a Wisconsin Cheese Platter available? Because they do. The beers here are so interesting, ranging all over the place in style. I stumbled across it during a Door County road trip, and honestly, I didn’t have enough time there. I recommend planning it as a destination to relax at for several hours.
New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Forget about Daytona Beach, your next Florida trip should be to New Smyrna Beach (not really, please don’t start going there! Daytona is just north, please keep going there, thanks!). Sure it may be the shark attack capital of the world (yes, the entire world), but it’s also home to the amazingly delicious NSB Brewery. In fact, their PacNW style IPA (my fave of theirs) is called the Shark Attack IPA!
Instead of doing flights, they sell 5oz pours (along with the usual sizes) so you can essentially make your own flight, even if you only want three beers instead of four or five. For the DD in your life, they brew their own root beer (0.0% ABV, don’t worry!). They’re somewhat new, so their brews still have some wiggle room, but their talent seems to trend in the unplanned extra delicious way rather than “Ew, no!” For example, their Strawberry Milkshake IPA sounds horrendous, but in fact was a delight (in a 5oz pour, at least). The space is great for groups and dog-friendly.
Sours, sours, and more sours. This is one of the first sour breweries in America. It’s historical, people! They barrel their brews, hence the name, and let them ferment and sit and soak like a delicious bourbon. Their location is somewhat random but who cares because their beer is so good. And you know what? They’re on a main bus line, so you don’t even have to drive there. Which is a good thing given sours trend high on the ABV. My favorite sours are berry or cherry based, but Cascade does have some non-sours on tap, too.
Brooklyn, New York
I’ve only visited this brewery once despite it being in my borough, but I’ve had a ton of their beers at various bars. Holy crap! This brewery is AMAZING. They didn’t put “artisanal” in their name just to be hipsters, it’s legit artisanal stuff. It’s hard to explain, but if you’re a fan of mosaic or citra hops, get thee to Grimm! Their beers are so complex and really keep on giving for the entire pint. Their space is very open, well lit, and not too loud (often an issue in warehouse style spaces). Both the brewery and the beer are an experience worth having.
San Diego, California
While Ballast Point beers are not my favorite from San Diego (I mean, the city has too many to choose from, if we’re keeping it real), this Little Italy location is superb and very walk-able. Its airy, SoCal atmosphere makes you feel like you’re by the beach, but without all the sand. The space is massive but separated so each room feels like its own energy and atmosphere. Their beers are varied and new stuff is in constant rotation. It’s an easy place to repeat visit for the small batch tasters.
This is fairly large brewery in Chicago, and the space reflects that, but it’s still an excellent atmosphere to grab some pints and meet up with friends. Or in my case, sit alone in November and randomly see someone I met the night before at a party I was invited to by the stranger who sat by me at the place that serves fried chicken and frozen negronis. It was a whirlwind weekend in the Windy City, what can I say? But the beer is solid, and they clearly have their set recipes and methods down. Everything is consistent, and if you really love their stuff, the distribute in eight different states.
I debated including this one, but I think the Founding Fathers recipes brews they offer are worth a mention. Especially in a post about National American Beer Day! They moved locations in 2017, which seems like lifetimes ago, but I went there back in 2014 with Rachel and our families, so I can’t comment on their new space other than it looks MASSIVE from the photos.
What brewery do you plan to visit for National American Beer Day? What’s your favorite brewery near you?
Lorena is an author, craft beer lover and fan of European soccer. You can find out more about her published work on her Facebook page.