America has always had an affinity for beer — well, except for that one time from 1920 to 1933 when a constitutional ban was enacted making it illegal to produce, transport, import, or sell alcoholic beverages. Besides that, we’ve always loved our beer.
In fact, when a new town was being built during colonial New England, often the first structure to go up was a tavern. These spaces not only served as local watering holes, but also as de facto courtrooms, post offices, inns for travelers, and, in some cases, churches.
Today, brewery taprooms are at the cornerstone of modern American beer culture. In California alone, there are over 1,100 operating breweries. And similarly to the colonial-era tavern, breweries offer more than just suds for sale. Many act as central hubs bringing people together to celebrate special occasions, fundraisers, and local band performances. You may not be able to baptize a baby in these spaces, but nothing beats a fresh pint with a full view of the vessels your beer was brewed in. It’s no wonder why breweries are some of the coolest places to visit in America.
VinePair asked 10 brewers to tell us their favorite local breweries to visit. Read on for their recommendations.
The Best Breweries to Visit Right Now, According to Brewers
- Last Wave Brewing Co. (Point Pleasant Beach, N.J.)
- Enegren Brewing Company (Moorpark, Calif.)
- Tenaya Creek Brewery (Las Vegas)
- Brewjeria Company (Pico Rivera, Calif.)
- Pilot Project Brewing (Chicago)
- Highland Park Brewery (Los Angeles)
- Bold Mariner Brewing Company (Norfolk, Va.)
- Ten Mile Brewing Company (Signal Hill, Calif.)
- HiDef Brewing (Los Angeles)
- Radiany Beer Co. (Anaheim, Calif.)
“I am a huge lager lover (a.k.a. crispy girl), so having Enegren Brewing Company nearby where I live and work is amazing! They make the best German-style lagers and ales in the area. The brewery itself is beautiful and a great spot to hang with friends and family.” —Tyler Sadler, brewer, LitBrew, Los Angeles
“There is no brewery in the city of Downey, but there’s a few I like to visit within a small radius. If I drive north, I like to visit Brewjeria in Pico Rivera. I’m a big fan of two of their core beers, the Nut Brown Ale and Grapes of Wrath (Belgian tripel with Muscat grapes). —Alfredo Rocha, brewer, Los Barbones Brewing, Downey, Calif.
“I would have to say the Pilot Project in Logan Square. They support four different breweries as well as their own, so you get an opportunity to try out different styles from different cultures and eat some fire food! Plus, the aesthetics and staff are amazing.” —Zack Day, head brewer, Funkytown Brewery, Chicago
“Highland Park Brewery, hands down. Their portfolio of beers is as technically sound and ambitious as it is delicious. They also showcase guest beers from their homies.” —Teo Hunter, head of brewing operations, Crowns & Hops, Inglewood, Calif.
“The best brewery to visit in my area currently is Bold Mariner Brewing Company. They have a great variety of styles, and they are all done well.” —Rachel Howard, head brewer, Oozlefinch Beers & Blending, Fort Monroe, Va.
“My favorite local brewery to visit is Ten Mile Brewing Company in Signal Hill, Calif. They’re a family-owned and -operated brewery, and the pride they have in their craft is evident in every aspect of the brewery. The vibe is always good, and they brew fantastic and diverse beers. They also tend to have a lesser-known beer style on tap, so every visit is educational.” —Derek Johnstone, co-owner/ head brewer, La Jara Brewing Company, Norwalk, Calif.
“Because of the pandemic and recently having a baby, I haven’t been out much these past two years. HiDef Brewing in Downtown L.A. is a secret gem that quietly opened up during the pandemic.” —Kirk Nishikawa, co-founder/brewer, Brewyard Beer Company, Glendale, Calif.
“I think the best brewery near me would be Radiant Beer Co. I’ve been all about lagers and pilsners lately, and they’ve put out some excellent crispies. Their Best Small Brewery of the Year award was well deserved.” —Guillermo Bugarin, cellarman, Ogopogo Brewing, San Gabriel, Calif.