With wine lovers on the hunt for esoteric vineyards to visit and spirits geeks trekking to distilleries far and wide, those who favor suds needn’t feel left out. In fact, beer lovers have even more reason to travel these days, with breweries popping up in the most unexpected of places.
Notable craft beer is being made in every major city from San Diego to Boston, and chances are beer enthusiasts have a bucket list that includes stops from Miami and Maine to Belgium and Germany. Already been to all the usual suspects? Consider this list of alternatives. These are five unlikely destinations that are home to some of the best suds in North America.
Crafting beer in Alberta makes sense—the Western Canadian province is one of the biggest producers of barley worldwide. But up until a few years, most of it was exported. In 2013, Alberta repealed a law surrounding a brewery’s minimum production, making it possible only recently for a small-production operation to take off. With regulations loosened, Alberta’s craft boom has arrived.
Don’t miss: There are a handful of National Fine Food, Beer & Spirits locations in Calgary, and many have more than 40 taps of all-Canadian craft beer, much of which is local to Alberta. At Tool Shed Brewing Co., toast with a unique ale to co-owner and operator Graham Sherman, who was one of the petitioners of Alberta’s minimum-production brewery law. Need a couple other ideas? Check out McAllister’s barley farm in Central Alberta to see the origins of a brew (and the supplier of barley to much of North America), or head north to Edmonton for further craft beer exploration.
While the nearby brew spots in Philadelphia and Delaware keep East Coasters happy, Baltimore’s craft beer scene is growing, with no signs of slowing down. Baltimore once played a role in the country’s beer production, but many breweries closed or were shut down by the end of the last century. Fortunately, in the past decade, new pubs, taprooms and breweries have emerged, once again making this city a worthwhile stop for beer lovers.
Don’t miss: One of the first craft breweries in Baltimore, award-winning favorite Union Craft Brewing serves up flights of porters, ales and stouts, plus seasonal beers and even a gluten-reduced Belgian Pale Ale called Reducktion. Over near Camden Yards, don’t miss Oliver Brewing Co., serving its cleverly named beers (see: Modern Life Is Rubbish) since 1993.
After exploring the nearby wine trails and Portland’s craft beer scene (still booming after 30-plus years), consider Bend as a fitting next stop. While it’s primarily a ski destination with some of the best powder and ski conditions around, Bend is also home to more than 25 breweries and has more breweries per capita than any other city in the country.
Don’t miss: 10 Barrel Brewing serves the notable and aptly named Pray for Snow, an herbaceous, piney winter ale that’s the theme of the brewery. Its policy is that if it snows 10 or more inches in a day, the brewery closes so the staff can hit the slopes. Also look for more than a dozen additional taps of seasonal and one-off brews. Over at Bend Brewing Co., the second-oldest brew pub in the area, the beer is made upstairs above the bar, where fewer than 1,000 barrels are made per year. The small-batch approach has paid off—Bend Brewing Co. has picked up a handful of awards for its brews, notably the Ching Ching and Wicked Medicine.
Denver might be home to the Great American Beer Festival, but Telluride has been hosting the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival for nearly three decades, and it shouldn’t be overlooked as a stop for craft beer tasting. Plus, if you need a break from beer, Telluride Distilling Company is responsible for the first legal spirits ever to be available in the mountain town.
Don’t miss: The award-winning Smuggler Union has been pouring pints in Telluride for more than 20 years. Brewer Thomas Daly is at the helm here, and visitors should expect classically styled lagers and several seasonal and experimental creations at the brewery. Established in 2011, Telluride Brewing Company makes its beer with Rocky Mountain snow melt and has won medals for its Face Down Brown and Whacked Out Wheat, all while nearly doubling its production every year since opening.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Westchester County, New York
While Brooklyn, The Bronx and Queens continue to get nods for their beers, farther north in suburban Westchester County and Hudson Valley, you’ll find a growing brew scene less than an hour from the city.
Don’t miss: Open since 2015, Yonkers Brewing Co., set along the Hudson River in a historic barn, has quickly made a name for itself with its Yonkers Lager, Honey Blonde (made with Hudson Valley honey) and IPA. More brews, including its Vanilla Stout and Pear Wit, are available for tastes at the brewery, which is open daily and conveniently located across from the Metro-North train station. Nearby, Peekskill Brewery, set in a four-story riverfront building, offers a seasonally changing roster of beers, ranging from sours and IPAs to complex stouts served in flights, along with pints and growlers. Fancy a cider instead? In the early days of New York’s history, the state was well-known for its cider production, which is now making a comeback. Brothers Alex, Ben and Kevin Covino are producing handcrafted hard ciders at Hardscrabble Cider, and the entire farm-to-bottle operation can be seen during a tour and tasting.