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7 Breweries to Visit Before You Die

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I will admit upfront that I’m a little biased with these choices. I know that there are many, many other breweries in the world that merit a visit or two, but I’ve narrowed my choices to these seven based on beer preference or historical value. Another confession that I must make is that I’ve yet to visit any of these breweries and, sadly, I’ve only visited the Coors brewery.

Guinness Brewery: Dublin, Ireland

This is first brewery on my list, because Guinness is first in my heart. This is the beer that converted me. I fell in love with beer because of this wonderful stout. I know that not everyone is a fan of drinking "motor oil," as I'm repeatedly told Guinness is, but I find this brew very enjoyable. This brewery has loads of history and is located in country that is also filled with a rich history.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery: St. Louis, MO

Although I am not a huge fan or advocate of this particular beer, I would love to visit the brewery because of the historical significance it holds for the United States. It may truly be one of the most iconic beers coming out of the States these days, even though the brew is no longer "American." Seeing the Clydesdales and stables would be a great experience, and getting a few free brews at the end of the tour wouldn't hurt.

Spoetzl Brewery: Shiner, TX

Shiner Bock is my go-to beer. When I'm not able to decide what brew to purchase I walk down the aisle and meet my old friend. Comforting. Local. Good. This will be the first brewery that I will visit on my list because of location; it is simply the closest brewery. If you've never tasted Shiner Bock, it must become a priority as it is truly one of the best beers.

Sierra Nevada: Chico, CA

When I think of craft beers, Sierra Nevada is the first that comes to mind. Founded in 1981, this is one of the youngest breweries on my list, but no less intriguing. Only high quality beers come out of this brewery. The Taproom & Restaurant on site is a very attractive feature for this brewery. There is something very appealing to taking a tour and then sitting down for a nice meal paired with a sample of the finest beer around.

Weihenstephaner: Freising, Germany

The oldest brewery in the world. Need I say more?

Samuel Adams: Boston, MA

For me this is simply an excuse to take a trip to Boston. I want to eat and drink my way through this historic city and a must on the tour is Samuel Adams Brewery. Not a fan of their lager, I do enjoy many of their other brews. I believe that this brewery is one of the best craft breweries in the America, even though they are considered a Megabrewery. This is not the time for a Tea Party, but a Beer Party — only we don't throw kegs into the harbor, we drink them!

New Belgium Brewery: Fort Collins, CO

Another brewery that is on the cutting edge of craft beer. I'm a huge fan of Fat Tire, one of my favorite brews. Founded in 1989, New Belgium is the youngest brewery on my list. I love a great story and this brewery is not without one. Jeff Lebesch was inspired during a trip to Belgium to create new beers in his basement. His wife bottled, marketed, and distributed his first two brews, Abbey and Fat Tire. Incredible.

Feel free to share other breweries that should be visited.

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About Chris Ballard

  • Caitlin

    Glad to see Sam Adams on your list! I went on the tour for the first time last weekend and it was excellent. The Boston brewery is by far their smallest and it’s where they develop and test all their new/special beers, so it’s more interesting and personal than you might expect from such a large brand.

    At the end of the tour we sampled the Boston Lager, Summer Ale, and a yet-to-be-released wheat beer.

    I’d also LOVE to see New Belgium. Nice list!

  • Jordan Richardson

    The Rogue Brewery in Portland is pretty dope, as are most of the breweries in Portland. Definitely THE craft beer city.

  • the sam adams tour is fun….and then you can go around the corner and have lunch at doyle’s.

    i’d add the ommegang brewery up near cooperstown.

  • bier

    The Heineken Tour in Amsterdam was kind of fun with beer tokens for tasting beers throughout the tour. Though they only had 1 beer to taste.

    Agree with you about New Belgium & Sierra Nevada. Cutting edge Craft Brewers..

  • catfishuntersthompson

    I would recommend Russian River based on pure coolness.

  • STM

    I can think of three Aussie ones that should be on that list in a heartbeat, and I’m sure Doc has some proper Pom breweries in England that might rate a bit higher on the list.

    Mine are: Cooper’s in Adelaide, South Australia; Castlemaine-Perkins (makers of XXXX lager) in Brisbane, Queensland, and the Cascade brewery, in Hobart, Tasmania, brewers of many and varied a fine drop.

    Cascade, Australia’s oldest brewery, is already nicely off my brewery bucket list.

  • If you’re ever in Vermont, drop in on Otter Creek in Middlebury. I was there not long ago on a Friday night and they had an excellent cask ale on site.

    Formative experience: visiting a Tuborg brewery in Denmark with my family as a kid. First taste of beer!

  • As long as you’re going to Sam Adams, travel to the Cape and visit the Cape Cod Brewery. Buy a growler or two of Cape Cod Red, one of my favorite beers. They have a tour and tasting every Tuesday and Saturday. In their short six year life, they’ve put out some remarkable beers.

  • Chris, the best beer I ever tasted was in the Czech Republic in a place called ?eské Bud?jovice. You can take a tour of the brewery there.

  • Colin Kaminski

    My favorite road trip is Russian River Brewing in Santa Rosa. Since I am a brewmaster at another brewery nearby it is a good way to get out of town and has great beers.

  • Have you ever visited Pacific Coast Brewing Co. in downtown Oakland?

    I used to frequent it a lot, living both in Oakland and adjoining Alameda for over ten years.

  • Ian

    Despite Pilsner Urquell now being a part of the SABMiller multiverse, the brewery tour is pretty awesome. After sitting through a terribly corny movie you do the usual gawking at massive industrial scale brewery equipment. Not so awesome so far, but… then you’re ushered into the old lagering cellars that were tunneled for miles under Plzen and you get to taste the beer straight from one of the massive wooden barrels (still made on site by traditional methods). That makes it all worthwhile. The Pilsner tasted there is nothing like the old, lightstruck stuff that makes its way to the export market. Fantastic beer, but as usual drinking locally is the way to go.

  • Andrew Whitnall

    Two UK – Fullers in Chiswick, west London is a must. Harveys in Lewes, Sussex is a superb traditional brewery and an excellent tour but has a two year waiting list! The brewery mentioned by Victor Lana at 9 is the real Budweiser (or Budvar) in Ceske Budejovice in southern Bohemia. I’d agree with STM at 6 about Coopers in Adelaide, South Australia (by far the best large brewery in Australia) and Cascade in Hobart, Tasmania is beautiful.