Best Brewery Tours in the United States

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Best Brewery Tours in the USA

Best Brewery Tours in the United States

A brewery tour is the best way to get up close and personal with your beer. You’ll become acquainted with the equipment, get to sample the grains, smell the wort, and watch the bottling or kegging process. Every brewery will show you their fermenters, give you a sample of the goods, and answer your questions. Here are a few that will give you a little something extra. 

In no particular order:

Stone Brewing

bistro_overview1_small Price: $3 public tour, $50 for private group tour (up to ten people)

City: Escondido, California

The Stone Bistro and Gardens, on their own, is reason enough to visit this San Diego county brewery. The outside, unassuming and industrial, hides a gorgeous zen garden, outdoor bar and a restaurant that has one of the best pub menus in the country. The brewery tour, guided by “Indoctrination Specialists” walks small groups of eager beer fans though 55,000 square feet of brewing magic. From brew kettles to bottling lines, tours will see every step of the process, ask questions of knowledgeable staff and see how your favorite beer is made. The tour, as most do, ends with a sampling of Stone’s brews.

New Belgium

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Price: Free

City: Fort Collins, Colorado

More of a small village than a brewery, New Belgium will give you more than just the standard tour. With an on staff “Director of Fun,” a climbing wall, a Carnie Workshop that runs year-round to build mutant bikes and organize the Tour de Fat, and a short track for weekly bike races, you can be fairly certain that you’ll enjoy your visit.  After the tour, stop by the tap room, bottle shop, or try your luck at a game of Rolle Bolle

Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head Brewery

Price: Free

City: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

With a tagline like “Off-centered ales for off-centered people” you know they are doing things a bit differently over at Dogfish Head. From the outside of the impressively gorgeous, modern remodel of an old cannery that now houses the 100,000 square foot brewery, you can see that difference. Not just in the beautiful architecture, but the Steam Punk tree house shipped over from Burning Man and installed in the front lawn. After the free tour of the well-appointed brewing operations, which will supply you with four free beer samples, the fun isn’t over. Bocce ball, corn hole and food trucks await you as enjoy the rest of the tap list as well as the impressive Dogfish Head store. Party too hard? Don’t worry, there is a Dogfish Head hotel just a few miles down the road. 

Rogue Ales Farm Tour

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Price: Free

Location: Independence, Oregon

Although not technically a brewery tour, this excursion will give you an up close and personal view of where your beer comes from. As they say, from Ground to Glass, and Patch to Batch. A 42-acre tour of hops, grains, fruit, vegetables and herbs are just the beginning. A tour of the Rogue Ales Farms also includes an impressive yard of honeybee hives, a pumpkin patch, potbellies pigs, free rang chickens, a berry patch and more. Once you’ve learned, picked, sampled and roamed, you still aren’t done yet. You can stop by the Farms Chatoe, for the beer made from those ingredients you just became acquainted with as well as soul satisfying food. Don’t forget to jump into one of the lawn games: giant scrabble and corn hole. Events happen monthly, check the website to plan your visit.

Sierra Nevada

sierra nevada beer tour

Price: Free

City: Chico, California

Sierra Nevada owner Ken Grossman once had to use dairy equipment to brew beer due to the fact that small brewery equipment didn’t exist when he wanted to open his craft brewery in the late 1970’s. Since then, Sierra Nevada has become one of the largest craft breweries in the United States. Three tours, all aimed at different interest, will take you through one of the most impressive brewery tours available. Choose one, or plan on all three, it’s up to you. Want more than a behind the scenes peek of the brewing process? Sierra Nevada also offers weekly events, including beer dinners and pairings, as well as a 350-seat music venue with musicians from all over the globe.

Brewery Visitation Tips

To make the most of your brewery tour, no matter where you choose to visit, keep a few things in mind. Many of these tours book up quickly, take a second to see if you can book online or make a reservation ahead of time. Kids are often welcome! Obviously, they will have to skip the beer sampling segments, and a few on site bars will be off limits, but if you have a kiddo that wants to tag along, that’s often an option.  Sample the special beer. Sure, you want to try what you love at the source, but nearly every brewery will have one of a kind, experimental and rare beer on tap that will never, ever get the chance to sample again. Ask the taproom jockey what to drink, they will help you out.

 

I was compensated by Travelocity for this post, all opinions and ideas are my own. 

11 thoughts on “Best Brewery Tours in the United States

  1. I have been to Deschutes, Full Sail, Dogfish Head and Stone brewery tours and that is the order I rank them. Stone was a 200 meter lap around the mash and lauter tuns hearing about how good they were. It will take a pretty poor brewery tour to bump them up from the bottom. The rest were pretty good experiences and none were way ahead of the others.

  2. I had the pleasure of visiting the Dogfish Head brewery when I was in Delaware a few years ago and loved the entire tour. The free beer samples were great as well. If this is 3rd on the list, I really need to go check out the top 2.

      1. Outside of the obvious (Founders, Bells, New Holland), and not strictly Grand Rapids, but worth the trip:

        Odd Side Ales, Grand Haven
        Paw Paw Brewing, Paw Paw
        HopCat, Grand Rapids

  3. “Best” is subjective – these are all mid-to-large-size craft brewers. Boulevard in Kansas City is in the same league, and Budweiser (in St. Louis) and Coors (in Golden, Colorado) all offer educational tours, similar to these. But after learning how beer is made, multiple times, I’d rather just skip the tour and go directly to the tasting room, in or near whatever city I’m in, today. Whether it’s Cigar City in Tampa, Scratch Brewing in Ava, Illinois, or the Side Project Cellar, in Maplewood, Missouri, the magic is in the product, not the process. Do your research, search the interwebs – there’s always new and wonderful beers to discover, all around you!

    1. I agree, we almost always skip the tour now too. Once you are familiar with the process, there isn’t much point – I’d rather just go taste the end product. UNLESS….there is something different or unusual about the facility or tour. We were just at Sierra Nevada’s North Carolina location….their building and facility is so amazing, I was kind of sad not to be able to do the tour. But I had 6 hours to fit in the entire Asheville brewing scene, so tours are the first thing to go.

      That being said, Lagunitas Chicago was awesome because of all of the initiatives they have going on there, and the building was just awesome (who has a tap room in the center of a warehouse, three stories up?). Lakefront in Milwaukee has one of the best tours for the experience – singing and filling your cup around every corner.

  4. My most informative tour was at Adirondack brewery in Lake George, NY. The beer and brewpub were great as well. I always go to Dogfish Head as well when I’m near Milton, De. The new Dewey Beach brewery / brewpub has terrific food and beer as well. Brandon one of the brewers was full of information. My next stops are Victory and Troegs. I’d love to visit Fort Collins, Co. to see the breweries, don’t know if I’ll get a chance.

  5. When you eventually head out east, I definitely recommend making a stop in Portland, Maine. I lived there for a few years and Allagash has a good tour, but there is also a walkable strip of breweries–Rising Tide, Bunker, Oxbow, and UFF (cider). It’s wonderful.

  6. If your coming east you’ll miss some fantastic breweries if you don’t visit NH. Several of them from the mountains down to the coast. We’ve visited several great brew pub in VT too.

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