From coast to coast the United States is full of breweries, both large and small, that each have something unique to offer. Taking a brewery tour is a great way to gain firsthand knowledge of a company’s history and exactly how their brews are crafted. It is one thing to enjoy the taste of your favorite beer, but it adds a whole new dimension of appreciation when you can see and learn about how it is made. Not only are most brewery tours free, but you usually will be given free samples of beer, fresh from the source. Here is a list of just a few of the great brewery tours that are available around the country for your enjoyment.
Dogfish Head Brewery – Miton, DE
Dogfish Head Brewery tours are very popular. So much so that it is recommended you make reservations for a tour in advance, even for the weekdays. The company slogan is “Off-centered beer for off-centered people,” and this brewery does have its unique aspects. For example, outside of the brewery there is a giant lunchbox called “Bunyan’s Lunchbox” and the goofy looking “Steampunk Treehouse.” Guests can also play bocce ball on the front lawn for free. The tour begins at a bar in the brewery and guests over the age of 21 can sample 4 of the many different brews they have on tap. The tour is fairly extensive as it covers nearly every portion of this large brewery. After the hour-long tour you can head over to the tasting room for some more drinks or check out the gift shop. Dogfish Head staff even encourage you to age their beer at home to bring out new, diverse flavors.
Stone Brewery – Escondido, CA
This brewery in Southern California hosts over 50,000 people for tours every year. With beer names like “Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale,” “Ruination” and “Arrogant Bastard,” it is no surprise that tours are led by “Indoctrination Specialists,” rather than tour guides. The 45 minute tours describe craft beer culture and explain Stone Brewing Company’s brewing processes. After the tour ends you are welcomed to partake in a guided tasting of their many variations of beer. The brewery has a beautifully designed restaurant with an interior made of steel, wood and stone which overlooks the beer manufacturing area. Outside, there is a classy patio with fire pits as well as a magnificent one acre beer garden that has a stream, ponds and eye-catching landscaping.
Lakefront Brewery – Milwaukee, WI
This tour offers a drink-as-you-go experience in which different samples of beer are offered throughout the adventure. There is a fair amount of laughter during the tour as guides intertwine jokes with facts; making the experience zany, yet educational. Some of their uniquely named beverages include their Wheat Monkey ale and the strong 8.5% alcohol Bridge Burner ale. Lakefront Brewery is also known for creating the first gluten free beer in the country approved by the U.S. Government. Although not free, this tour is worth the $7 fee. Along with the wealth of information and history you take in, guests receive a souvenir pint glass, four 6oz pours of beer and a coupon for an additional free pint of beer valid at any of the 26 participating bars located around Milwaukee.
Yuengling Brewing – Pottsville, PA
Rich in history and full of wonder, the Yuengling brewery company is officially America’s oldest brewery and has been operating since 1829. During your visit you will get to walk through the hand-dug caves that were used for fermentation and storage before the days of refrigeration. The company currently produces a Traditional Lager, Light Lager, Premium Beer, Premium Light Beer, Original Black & Tan, Dark-Brewed Porter, Lord Chesterfield Ale, Bock and a seasonal Octoberfest. This unique location offers free tours Monday through Saturday at select times. At the end of the tour you are given a free sample of your choice. You have to attend during the week if you want to see the brewery while the bottling and labeling operation is in process. As required by law, all visitors must wear completely closed toed shoes. Group tours of 15 people or more require reservations and there is a nominal fee.
New Belgium Brewing – Fort Collins, CO
Now the third largest craft brewery in the United States, New Belgium’s brewery is completely wind powered. This eco-friendly company is known for its Fat Tire amber ale with a bicycle on the label. The facility itself has stools, other furniture and decorations made out of recycled bike parts. Tour-goers have noted that tour guides and employees tend to be upbeat and very cordial. Perhaps this is because New Belguim is 1/3rd employee owned. Employees even receive a Fat Tire bike on their one year anniversary and a free case of beer every holiday week. The ninety minute tours here are free and available Tuesdays through Saturdays; however, most Fridays and Saturdays are booked for up to a month in advance.
Leinenkugel Brewing Company – Chippewa Falls, WI
Located in northwestern Wisconsin, the Leinenkugel’s brand has been brewed for over 145 years. As the seventh oldest brewery in the country, Leinenkugel’s brewery is open all year and is the creator of 19 different seasonal and year round beers. Their popular beer options that are available any time of year include: Original, Creamy Dark, Red Lager, Hoppin’ Helles, Berry Weiss, Sunset Wheat and Honey Weiss. Before or after your free tour you can sample any 4 brews of your choosing. The tour itself offers information on the company’s history throughout its growth as well as the specific brewing processes that take place. Many reviewers often comment on the staff’s Midwest charm and hospitality.
Samuel Adams Brewery – Boston, MA
America’s largest craft brewer, Samuel Adams has been in operation since its debut in 1984. This tour is free, although there is a recommended donation of $2 which all goes to local charities. This is not a large brewery, but rather, the original brewery in which the first major batches of the original Samuel Adams beer were brewed. Although this tour goes through the history of the company and description of the brewing process like most other tours, here you will also get to smell actual hops and taste the type of grains that are used to make Sam Adams. After the tour is over, guests are brought into a tasting room where a few pitchers of different types of beer are passed around for everyone to sample. Since this is a smaller brewery in a bigger city, parking can be hard to find and tours fill up quickly. It is recommended that you take public transportation to the brewery and schedule a tour appointment in advance.
Coors Brewery – Golden, CO
Established in 1873, the Coors brewery is the largest brewery in the world. The tours here are free and they bring in over 300,000 visitors every year. Tours include a bus excursion around the city of Golden, a self-guided walking tour that explains brewing, malting and packaging aspects of the operation and, of course, free beer samples. There are also many cans, bottles, photos and other memorabilia on display that depict the history and evolution of the company. Guests are allowed to take photos while inside and depending on your pace you can expect to spend one to three hours in the facility. There is also an option to schedule a VIP tour for up to 10 individuals. This will allow you have a guided tour and see exclusive parts of the brewery.