If you’re a beer fan (and really who isn’t these days?) then brewery tours can be a fun and unique way to sample brews made on site and also to see the process for making quality beers. So if you want to know what really goes into that bottle in your hand and to throw back a few cold ones, make a point to take a brewery tour. Of course, not all brewery tours are equal — some are just way cooler than others.
From visits that take you right through the hop fields to a glimpse at the first wind-powered brewery in the U.S., here are five American brewery tours that take touring to the next level.
Set up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lakefront Brewery has become a sort of landmark in the city. What began in 1987 is now one of Milwaukee’s most beloved spots to grab a cold one. The 45-minute brewery tours go through the entire brewery. While you will have to fork over $9 on weekdays for the tour and $10 on weekends, you’ll also take home a souvenir pint glass and a sampling of 4 6-ounce pours of beer. What makes Lakefront Brewery unique is that you can see where the first beer to be certified organic in the U.S. was made, the Organic ESB. Lakefront Brewery also offers more technical tours on Sundays. Geared toward the home-brewer, these tours are a bit more in-depth and conclude with a food pairing with Lakefront brews.
While you will need to make a reservation perhaps months in advance, the Anchor Brewing’s tour is worth the wait. Two guided tours are offered each weekday by reservation. You’ll walk through three floors of the brewery and experience the taste of San Francisco history. Lasting around 1.5 hours, Anchor’s tours also include a tasting. The brewery remains the first and oldest craft brewery in the U.S. with roots dating back to the California gold rush. Post tour you can sip on a flight of selected Anchor beers, all handmade from the malt mash in their traditional copper brewhouse.
Set up in Cooperstown, New York, Brewery Ommegang showcases a different side to brewery tours. Cooperstown was once the epicenter of U.S. hop production in the 19th century. The brewery, in fact, occupies the former grounds of a hop farm. Started in 1997, Brewery Ommegang presents a farmstead brewery across 136 acres. It became the first farmstead brewery built in the U.S. in over a 100 years. Tours include hop field demonstrations and a visit to the open fermenter. What makes Brewery Ommegang even cooler is its HBO partnered line of Game of Thrones themed beers.
Right in Fort Collins, Colorado, New Belgium tends to be a favorite brewery tour experience in the U.S. The 90-minute tours around the brewery are appropriately accented with beer samplings along the way. You might even get to sample a beer that hasn’t been released yet. Producing top quality Belgian style ales, New Belgium is unusual in that it was the first wind-powered brewery in the U.S. The lively tours can be accompanied with a beer in the on-site tasting room, before or after the tour.
Settled into coastal Delaware, Dogfish Head has long made a name for its quirky brews. You will be greeted by steam punk tree houses on the front lawn of the brewery, all the way from Burning Man. The tours then take you through the brewhouse, cellars and bottling area for around 60 minutes. If you imbibe a bit too much, there is even a Dogfish Head inn down the road to check into for the night. The brewery tour here is more serious than some others as you’ll need to wear closed toed shoes.
Have you been on a cool brewery tour in the U.S. that we missed? Share your favorite brewery tour with us in the comments below!