Brewing and American history go together like Apple pie and American history, or baseball and American history, or freedom and American history — whatever trope you prefer. Suffice it to say that Northeastern brewers have been producing fine ales and lagers since before we crushed the red coats. Today, some of the most prestigious and historic breweries remain tucked away in the folds of New England and the northern Mid-Atlantic, just waiting for you to find them and sample their delicious brews.
Not all of the craft brews on this list have a long history, but all of them offer fantastic tours and delicious beer. The next time you are in the Northeast, you should seek out a pint from any of the following fantastic microbreweries.
1. Woodstock Inn Station & Brewery, New Hampshire
For a couple’s weekend, there is hardly a state more suitable than New Hampshire, especially considering that you can keep cozy in this mountainside inn and brewery. Woodstock has it all: comfortable beds, delicious restaurant fare, and even more delicious craft brews. During your stay, you can tour the brewery, explore nearby Lincoln, or wander the mountain trails.
2. Maine Beer Company, Maine
Maine is the Oregon of the Northeast: a beer-lover’s paradise. Maine Beer Company is just one of a number of microbreweries in the northernmost Lower 48, but it was certainly among the first. Ironically, Maine Beer excels at brewing West Coast IPAs, but they offer six standard beers you won’t want to miss.
3. Allagash Brewing Company, Maine
When Allagash’s founder created and sold his first craft beer — the now-legendary Allagash White — it was charming, but today, that beer has transformed Allagash into an exemplar of creative and tasty brewing. While the White is almost always available at this Maine brewery, there are usually a number of limited release beers on tap that you might never have the pleasure of tasting again, so you should get while the getting is good.
4. Niagara Brewing Company, Ontario
Technically, part of Niagara Falls is in New York State, but the best parts of the natural wonder (including this fantastic new craft brewery) lie just beyond the border. Fortunately, the brews at Niagara Brewing Company make the trip to Canada well worth it. Located within sight of mammoth Horseshoe Falls, you can get a fantastic drink and a gorgeous view.
5. Alchemist Brewery, Vermont
It is hard to imagine a brewer who doesn’t like to experiment, but the folks at Alchemist Brewery are adamant about producing only one beer: the double-IPA Heady Topper. Six varieties of hops blend together to form this near-perfect brew, which perfectly demonstrates the value of intense focus.
6. Big Alice Brewing, New York
Conversely, the brewers at Big Alice eschew finely honed recipes in favor of flavorful experimentation. Thriving on chaos, Big Alice’s brews are some of the wildest in the country (e.g. cinnamon, rose, and bird’s-eye-chili abbey, or curry and lapsang smoked porter), and no two batches are exactly alike. Beer lovers can subscribe to Big Alice to receive monthly samples, which you will definitely want to do.
7. Cape Cod Beer Company
Cape Cod is small, and Cape Cod Beer Company is even smaller. Most visitors will only have access to this brewery’s beers in their dedicated tasting room; they don’t bottle their brews, and draughts in pubs are nearly unheard of, which makes the tasting experience feel intimate and exclusive. Still, there is a reason for their size: Cape Cod Beer is resolute regarding sustainability, sourcing their hops from local farms and recycling absolutely everything, which can be nearly impossible with bigger operations.
8. New England Brewing Company, Connecticut
One of the first powerhouse craft breweries in Connecticut, New England Brewing Company (or NEBCO, as it’s called by those in-the-know) has been perfecting and producing IPAs and pilsners for more than a decade. NEBCO continues to experiment, but its will always stand by its fan favorites, including the long-lived Sea Hag IPA.
9. Banded Horn Brewing Company, Maine
Banded Horn Brewing Company is more than a place to find outstanding beers — it is a community gathering spot. While you might come for Pepperell, an unfiltered pilsner, or the Jolly Woodsman, a coffee stout, you will undoubtedly come back for the daytime yoga classes, ping-pong tournaments, and corn hole challenges.
10. Mystic Brewery, Massachusetts
Mystic Brewery is a magical blend of old and new. While the brewers here are committed to old-world processes, they are unafraid to search out new, untried flavors — especially when they come directly from nature. You will be astounded how delicious beer can be when it’s made from wild fruit and yeast strains.