Few beer-drinking experiences are as fun as getting fresh brews straight from the source. So, if you’ve never been to one of the over 9,000 breweries operating in the United States, you’re missing out. Of course, choosing a brewery tour can be a challenge; each brewer has its own unique history, location and, most importantly, selection of beers. Here, we’ve rounded up a few of the best brewery tours in the U.S., all of which allow you to learn a bit more about the beer-making process up close.
8 of the Best Brewery Tours in the United States
1. Budweiser | St. Louis, Missouri
Say what you will about drinking a Bud, but the Anheuser-Busch Budweiser brewery in St. Louis, Missouri is well worth a visit. At Budweiser, the company doesn’t just offer tours; they offer brewery experiences. You can explore beer and food pairings or get a VIP up-close look at the famed Clydesdales. And those are just two of the options.
Budweiser has been a mainstay in the beer world for about 150 years, so the brewery’s tours offer a lot in the way of beer-making history. Plus, you’ll have the chance to explore a wide range of the company’s brews, from classic Budweiser to the honey-malt flavors or Budweiser Supreme to the smooth Budweiser Chelada with Clamato.
2. Goose Island | Chicago, Illinois
The Goose Island brewery tour isn’t just special because of the souvenir glass and three samples you get along the way. Most enticingly, it’s a chance to get a near-complete look at the entire brewing process. For our money, the bourbon barrel aging room is a standout moment as it showcases the place where a range of delectable brews are aged to perfection.
Not familiar with Goose Island’s offerings? Start with the Lemonade Shandy for a light and bright option. The Lost Palate Hazy IPA is another excellent choice, and features flavors like mango and cinnamon. Needless to say, Goose Island brewery is a must-see spot on any beer lover’s trip to Chicago, Illinois.
3. SweetWater | Atlanta, Georgia
If you want a tour with a ton of samples, look no further than SweetWater in Atlanta, Georgia. Along with a chance to try six fantastic brews, you’ll get a souvenir glass — but that’s not all. Tour-wise, you can choose between a condensed 30-minute tour or a 1.5-hour in-depth behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process.
Sweetwater’s motto is, “We’re not here for a long time; we’re here for a good time,” and you can taste that passion in its brews. For a classic beer, try the 420 Extra Pale Ale, which is similar to an IPA. For something a bit darker, give the Hop Hash Double IPA or the seasonal Happy Ending Imperial Stout a go.
4. Sierra Nevada | Chico, California
The Sierra Nevada brewery in Chico, California is the original of the company’s two locations, and that makes it an excellent option for beer lovers looking to go on tours. You can explore how the various brews are made firsthand, and then end your day at the on-site Brewhouse Bar.
One unique feature of the tour? Learning more about Sierra Nevada’s commitment to sustainability. Plus, you’ll learn more about the company’s quirky founder, Ken Grossman, which is a real treat; he built Sierra Nevada’s first brewhouse pretty much by hand using, primarily, recycled dairy equipment.
When it comes to the tasting part, you can’t go wrong with the Torpedo. But if you’re looking for something a bit different, give Strainge Beast, a hard kombucha, or the Tropical Torpedo beer a whirl.
5. New Belgium | Fort Collins, Colorado
A self-described “human-powered” brewery, New Belgium genuinely appreciates its employees, community and any out-of-town guests who come in for a tour. The company is also environmentally and socially conscious, setting high standards with its brews and values.
When it comes to what to try at this Fort Collins, Colorado-based brewery, you can always fall back on a classic: the Fat Tire. But the Voodoo Ranger IPA line is also worth checking out, especially if you visit in the fall, when the Voodoo Ranger Atomic Pumpkin brew is the seasonal treat on tap. If you’re not a big beer drinker, or want to try something a bit different, New Belgium’s Fruit Smash Hard Seltzer is a solid option.
6. Pabst | Milwaukee, Wisconsin
With more than 175 years of history under its blue ribbon, Pabst offers tours that get you up close and personal with a classic American beer. Seriously — the tour is incredibly comprehensive, covering everything from a historic hall and Pabst’s former corporate offices to an old infirmary.
As for the all-important samples, trying a classic Pabst Blue Ribbon (PBR) is a must. But if you want something fuller-bodied, go with Pabst Blue Ribbon Extra. For a lighter brew, there’s also Pabst Blue Ribbon Easy.
7. Maui Brewing Co. | Kihei, Hawai’i
A trip to Maui Brewing Co. is pretty much guaranteed to delight beer fans. Beer on tap, right from the source, on Hawai’i? It doesn’t get much better. If you visit the brewery, you’ll get a look in at the beer-making process as well as the company’s cellar and packaging line. Not to mention, there are sample brews to taste and complimentary souvenir glasses to take home.
While any brew here is worth trying, a few feel classically Hawai’ian in that they harness the flavors of local fruits. The Pineapple Mana and Coconut Hiwa are musts, for example, but you also can’t go wrong with more classic (and less fruit-forward) beers, like the Bikini Blonde, Double Overhead or Pueo. And for visitors who aren’t of drinking age or who don’t drink alcoholic beverages, Maui Brewing Co. makes a line of sodas, too.
8. Tröegs | Hershey, Pennsylvania
At Tröegs in Hershey, Pennsylvania, you can choose between guided and self-guided tours, making for an incredibly flexible visit and one of the best brewery tours in the U.S. If you go with the self-guided option, the entire experience is also free — great news for travelers on a budget, right? On the other hand, guided tours are just $5, and include a souvenir glass and some samples, so it’s definitely worth the price. During either tour, though, you’ll learn about this newer brewery’s history and process.
A family-owned company that focuses on local ingredients, Tröegs is committed to exploring new, interesting flavors — and that makes the sampling portion of any visit pretty excellent. Not sure where to start tasting-wise? Try bestsellers like the Perpetual IPA or Tröegenator. Along with the company’s great beer, you can enjoy some made-from-scratch food, including bread baked fresh on site. If you’re not feeling hungry, you can wrap up your tour at the Art of Tröegs gallery instead.