15 of the Top Brewery Tours to Take in the US
With over 7,000 breweries operating across the United States and, according to the Brewers Association, another 1,000 expected to open by the end of this year, beer enthusiasts have countless options for sampling new concoctions and imbibing old favorites.
While there’s no shortage of places to sample drinks at, if you want to get a behind-the-scenes look along with a tasty sample, you might want to plan a trip around one of these top brewery tours.
Allagash Brewing Company — Portland, Maine
Allagash Brewing Company is frequently named on or at the top of lists of America’s very best brew tours. Located in the picturesque seaside city of Portland on the southern coast of Maine, what makes this brewery extra-special is that during a tasting session, visitors can wander through the rows of beer barrels, which include everything from little casks to massive oak vessels.
A detour will lead you to a side room where you’ll be able to stand in awe at the sheer volume of barrel-aged beers. This tour is truly one not to be missed. Allagash began about a quarter-of-a-century ago as the original Belgian-style brewery in New England and is today considered one of the most well-respected brands in the industry.
For $5 per person, you’ll get a 60-minute tour and four 4-ounce samples of beer. Tours are offered multiple times throughout the day. Allagash is closed on major holidays: Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
Hours are as follows:
- Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Thursdays: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Fridays and Saturdays: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- Sundays: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Photo Credit: New Belgium Brewery
New Belgium Brewery — Fort Collins, CO
Fort Collins, located just an hour north of Denver, is considered a craft beer mecca. It hosts a number of well-known craft breweries that offer brewery tours and samples, but there’s arguably none better than New Belgium, the country’s third largest craft brewery.
It’s most famous for its Fat Tire, along with an endless list of others like Blue Paddle, Ranger IPA and Sunshine Wheat, in addition to producing a range of complex and seasonal beers that are sure to please any brew geek. The staff is incredibly passionate about what they do, perhaps at least in part because the company is entirely owned by its employees.
If you hope to visit New Belgium, be aware that this brewery is very popular and the free 90-minute tours can fill up weeks in advance, so plan ahead. They’re available daily throughout the year from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., departing every hour. While they’re open to people of all ages, of course only adults 21 and over can sample the beer.
Photo Credit: Samuel Adams
Samuel Adams Brewery — Boston, MA
One of the most popular attractions in Boston, Samuel Adams Brewery offers public tours that allow visitors to learn a bit about the ingredients that go into its beers, the brewing process and much more. The tour is free, although donations of $2 are suggested with the money going to support local charities.
You’ll get to smell the aroma of German Noble hops that give this famous lager its distinct flavor, and if you’re 21 or over, receive a free tasting glass to sample three different beers produced by Sam Adams. As this is another popular brewery tour, the wait in line can be very long, especially on Saturdays, so plan your visit as early in the day as possible.
Tours depart every 40 minutes during the following hours of operation:
- Mondays through Thursdays: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Fridays: 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Saturdays: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For $10 Monday through Thursday, or $15 Friday and Saturday you can take the Morning Mash In Tour by reserving tickets online in advance. This is the first tour of the day, so you’ll need to be there by 9:30 a.m., but it’s worth rising a bit early for the opportunity to try some of the more unique specialty beers.
Photo Credit: Widmer Brothers Brewing
Widmer Brothers Brewing — Portland, OR
At latest count there were nearly 60 breweries in Portland — 84 if you take into account the entire Portland Metro Area — making it clear why Portlanders and many outsiders refer to the city as “Beervana.” Locals tend to take their beer seriously, with brewers pioneering the craft beer movement using only the freshest ingredients. Many of the city’s breweries have become world-famous, like Widmer Brothers, which has the capacity to produce nearly 500,000 barrels of beer every year.
Opened in 1984, it’s one of the country’s original craft breweries and offers free public tours. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the “House That Hefe Built,” a 250-barrel brewhouse, as well as a tour through the 10-barrel Innovation Brewhouse and the chance to taste some of the company’s new beers. You’ll even get a one-time, small batch brew made exclusively for tour members.
The tour cost is $5 and includes a take-home tasting glass and 12-ounce can from its Members Only beer series. The tour schedule is as follows:
- Fridays: 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
- Saturdays: Noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.
- Sundays: 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Photo Credit: Stone Brewing
Stone Brewing — Escondido (San Diego County), CA
Located just north of downtown San Diego in Escondido, Stone Brewing is one of the top breweries in Southern California. Their recently expanded tour route will take you into the heart of the facility and its packaging hall for an inside look at craft beer culture and the brewing process. The tour concludes with a selection of special-release and core beers that are served in a souvenir glass that is included in the $3 tour price.
The experience all begins in a spectacular zen garden, filled with plants and ponds, that has been referred to as the “gold standard” for the country’s beer gardens.
Tours are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the following times:
- Monday through Friday: Noon, 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
- Weekends: Every hour from noon until 6 p.m.
Photo Credit: Deschutes Brewery
Deschutes Brewery — Bend, OR
Located on the east side of Oregon’s breathtaking Cascade Mountains, Bend has been giving Portland a run for its money. Opened in 1988, Deschutes Brewery is Bend’s most well-known brewery, with classic offerings created to pair with the area’s active lifestyle like the Obsidian Stout and Black Butte, one of the best-selling porters in the country.
Visitors can enjoy a private or public brewery tour, with four tours offered daily from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the hour. You’ll get to learn about the brewery’s history and culture as well as get a good glimpse at production. As the tours are quite popular and often fill up in advance, it’s best to book ahead. For $5 per person, you’ll also get a 12-ounce can of Deschutes beer.
Photo Credit: Pike Brewing Company
The Pike Brewing Company — Seattle, WA
The Pike Brewing Company offers yet another reason to visit iconic Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. The country’s oldest and most-visited public market opened over a century ago and hosts this brewery that was opened in 1989, producing popular handcrafted brews like the Space Needle IPA and Pike Pale Ale.
It offers free tours of its unique gravity flow, steam powered brewery that are led by the brewery’s expert staff and includes samples of beer and a Pike pint glass. They’re offered Tuesdays through Saturdays at 3 p.m.
Afterward you’ll be able to walk it off by checking out the market’s fresh produce and seafood, flowers, vintage items, handcrafted goods and more. Or just be entertained by the fishmongers tossing the fresh catch of the day back and forth while cracking jokes.
Photo Credit: Jester King Brewery
Jester King Brewery — Austin, Texas
The Texas capital is famous for its music and food, including mouthwatering barbecue, but it’s also becoming increasingly popular for its brew scene. In fact, when it comes to the state’s brewing circles, you may not find better than Jester King. A suburban giant, it’s a virtual temple of American/Belgian free-thinking experimentation. It’s the only farmhouse brewery in the Lone Star State that allows natural yeast to ferment its beers, resulting in low carbonation, bold flavors and sour notes.
Tours are free, open to all ages and require no reservation. They last about 30 minutes and while they don’t come with a beverage, visitors can enjoy Jester King brews in the tasting room or restaurant. If you can, plan to visit in the springtime when the wide-open field outside the brewery is filled with colorful wildflowers — a scene that can be enjoyed while sipping one of Jester King’s fine brews. It makes for the perfect destination for a Texas weekend getaway or activity as part of a longer vacation.
Tours are available at the following times:
- Fridays at 6 p.m.
- Saturdays and Sundays: 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
Photo Credit: Lakefront Brewery
Lakefront Brewery — Milwaukee, WI
In a town famous for its beer, Lakefront Brewery is frequently named the very best. This popular riverfront craft brewery offers weekday tours for $9; however, with production in process you won’t be able to tour the entire facility. On weekends, tours are $11 and will take you through the entire brewery.
You’ll also get a souvenir pint glass and four 6-ounce pours of beer. If you have someone with you that’s a non-beer drinker or under 21 years of age, they can enjoy the company’s Golden Maple Root Beer instead. The tours last about 45 minutes. Saturday tours must be booked online. While times vary, they typically run every half-hour or hour from noon until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m.
Photo Credit: Lagunitas Brewing Co
Lagunitas Brewing Company — Chicago, IL
While Lagunitas Brewing Company is based in California, the Chicago facility offers especially entertaining tours. To get to the taproom, you’ll need to walk through a hallway that has been painted with glow-in-the-dark paint and lit with black lights as the song “Pure Imagination” (from the film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”) plays overhead.
Along the way you’ll be able to look through windows into the brewery to witness the action. Once in the waiting room, the tasting fun begins, with staff pouring samples and answering questions.
The free walking tours last 30 to 40 minutes, taking you through and above the floor with several stops and plenty of fascinating information about the history of the company and its brewing process. Tour times are as follows:
- Weekends: On the hour from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
- Wednesdays through Fridays: 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Photo Credit: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Great Divide Brewing Company — Denver, CO
Established a quarter of a century ago, Great Divide Brewing Company has become a highly acclaimed craft brewery with five World Beer Cup awards and 18 Great American Beer Festival medals to its name to date. While its downtown Denver Barrel Bar offers 16 taps of year-round and seasonal beers, visitors can take a free guided tour for a behind-the-scenes look at its new facility in Denver’s River North Neighborhood and enjoy samples of the beer that’s known for its high-quality, often local ingredients.
The 30-minute tours are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis every day of the week at the following times:
- Weekdays: 3 p.m., 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.
- Weekends: On the hour between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Photo Credit: Green Man Brewing
Green Man Brewery — Asheville, NC
This beautiful city is relatively new to the beer scene, but it’s begun to build an international reputation with nearly a dozen breweries, meaning that, per capita, it has one of the country’s highest number of breweries. Green Man Brewery is especially popular, having brewed tasty beers for over two decades in Asheville, including some of the city’s most iconic ales, from creative brews to well-loved traditional English styles.
The approximately 60-minute-long tours are free and include the chance to learn about the brewery’s history and sample four flagship and specialty beers. Tours are available Thursday through Sunday throughout the year at various times and require booking in advance.
Photo Credit: Perennial Artisan Ales
Perennial Artisan Ales — St. Louis, MO
While St. Louis is often equated with Budweiser, it’s Perennial Artisan Ales that gets some of the most accolades, at least in recent years. Free brewer-led tours are available on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and will take you through the production facility where the beer is made, packaged and distributed to 13 states around the country.
Photo Credit: Christian Moerlein Brewing Co.
Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. — Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati has a long brewing history that’s been rejuvenated by a new wave of microbreweries, from the well-established to up-and-coming. Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. is arguably the most popular and offers free tours so you can see how some of the city’s tastiest award-winning craft brews are made. You’ll also be able to enjoy sampling the latest styles and freshest beers in its 1860 malt house taproom.
Operating hours are as follows:
- Wednesdays and Thursdays: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Fridays: 4 p.m. to midnight
- Saturdays: 12 p.m. to midnight
- Sundays: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Photo Credit: Jackalope Brewing Company
Jackalope Brewing Company — Nashville, TN
When you’re in Nashville, you can take a break from all the music-related attractions and give some samples of Jackalope’s beers a try. Jackalope Brewing Company offers tours of the brewery and two taprooms: The Den, its original location that specializes in small-batches and one-offs, and The Ranch, the main production facility where its year-round beers are brewed.
The 45-minute tours are $7 per person and include the tour of the facility, a pint glass and a tasting. The Ranch’s tour hours are as follows:
- Fridays: 5:30 p.m.
- Saturdays: 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
The Den’s tours are as follows:
- Fridays: 5 p.m.
- Saturdays: 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.