Great Beercations in Great Beer Destinations: The best in Craft Brewery Tours and more...


Craft Brewery Tours - U.S. & Canada

While the craft beer culture has blossomed throughout North America, many brewers will be too far away for just a spur-of-the-moment visit. With a little planning it's easy to make a day or even a full trip out of it.

Our savvy Coaster Factory crew have been traversing the virtual back roads to discover which craft brewers open their doors to the public for tours. Well, it seems most of them do. That only makes sense as many crafters first started out as grassroots based micro-brewers who are very much grounded in their local communities. We wanted to highlight for you some of the best and perhaps more unique North American brewery destinations to add to your travel bucket list.

We didn't start off here with any specific criteria per se, as it's an almost ridiculous premise—choosing the best craft brewer tours. However, we do want to toast those craft breweries that are changing the way we enjoy a cold one — the ones both the experts and fans agree deserve to be recognized. They are all award winners. All of these crafters have something unique to offer. The towns and cities where they reside are just as interesting and most worthy of a road or plane trip. Most here are very family friendly destinations. We thought that was important to include. Now, we could list dozens of brewers, hundreds even from our own client-base. Instead we wanted to narrow it down to just 12 in total; 6 crafter brewers in Canada, and 6 from the United States. 

NOTE: Some tours are available free of charge. Others may require tickets or enterance fee. In many cases the price of a tour is the price of a pint of beer. When it's “Free”, that usually means free beer tasting, but even when a visitor pays it also usually means they're going home with a glass or some other giveaway trinket along with some free beer. Always inquire directly with the brewery first as to tour schedules and availability of open spots. You will find that reservations are often required. Many breweries will also offer special group package tours. Of course “tour” might be a bit of a misnomer in some cases as the primary focus might be more on the tasting factor rather than the actual tour. Not that most of us mind that so much. Several of these tours we listed here however are lead by guides giving you the full out process of how their beer is made. Let's get started...


Suggested Craft Brewery Tours in Canada

centralcitybrewing.com :: Central City Brewing is located in Surrey, British Columbia, part of the historic Bridgeview community. Now this may not be known as a beer destination, but it could be with these folks conveniently located right off the sky train. They are best known for their Red Racer IPA brand, which has literally become a cult icon among Western Canadian craft beer enthusiasts. This craft brewer is expanding rapidly, selling into the Northwest United States, including Washington, Oregon and California. The brand spanking new 65,000 sq. ft state-of-the-art Central City Brewers + Distillers’ facility is now open to the public, offering up tastings of its many craft beers in a tapping room, as well as providing tours of the brewery and selling merchandise. There is a wow factor here and our guess is that it will become a tourism draw.

beaus.ca :: Located in the bustling town of Vankleek just one hour from Ottawa, the multi-award winning Beau’s All-Natural Brewing Co. is open seven days a week for informative taste-tours. Beau’s offers up quite a variety of seasonal beer choices and may be best known for their brand Lug Tread, a lagered ale which has become famous in Ontario. Beau’s has been successful since opening, winning many awards growing by leaps and bounds. Their involvement in music, the arts and youth-based community programs are impressive.

muskokabrewery.com :: This brewer is nestled in the heart of Bracebridge in the Muskoka's and has been making beer since the 90’s. They pride themselves on being All-Canadian, handcrafted, small-batched brewed using only all-natural ingredients, which are also listed on their labels. Tours of the brewery are Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. They have created a true niche with their unique and fun marketing campaigns. Perhaps they have become most famous locally for their award winning Mad Tom IPA inspired by late night stories around the lakeside campfires. On several occasions, Muskoka has been recognized by National Geographic Traveler magazine as one of their top 20 Best of The World and #1 pick for the Ten Best Trips of Summer. 

Now we're going to get a little Toronto centric, but hey, there is great beer here and what better international destination city to have a beer-cation?

millstreetbrewery.com :: Mill Street Brewery and Brewpub combines heritage with today’s innovative craft beer scene. Located in the heart of the historic Distillery District of Toronto, this location was first built in the late 1870’s. The building is a well-preserved example of classic Victorian industrial architecture and is truly a destination worth visiting. This is a fun brewpub experience. Surrounding the massive bar with high-top seating are the brewery vats which produce more than 12 handcrafted beer and ales including their famous Original Organic Lager and Tankhouse Ale. Mill Street offers free daily tours. If you're in Toronto, this is a must see!

amsterdambeer.com :: Back in 1986, a revolution was sparked in a new brewpub on John Street in Toronto. Lagers, ales, stouts and seasonals are brewed on premise. This became one of Toronto’s very first, if not THE first brewpub in the city. Brewed fresh daily, one of Toronto’s original craft beers is the traditional Amsterdam Blonde Lager. This award winning beer has become a staple and part of the local lexicon. Amsterdam Beer has grown tremendously over the years and now has opened another brewhouse recently at Harbourfront. Every Saturday they offer free guided tours and tastings for fans of craft beer. Visit the brand new brewery at 45 Esander Dr. in Leaside (Eglinton and Laird), Toronto.

blackcreekbrewery.ca :: In the heart of Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto is the Black Creek Historic Brewery. Step back in time and watch brewmasters dressed in period costume do everything by hand recreating the techniques, tools and recipes used by brewers in 1860’s Ontario. It’s a great place to learn about beer because, unlike a modern commercial brewery, you can see every step in the process for yourself. Brewers create the same ales and porters enjoyed in Ontario's country villages before Confederation. This unique historic tour ends with a tasting of authentic period ales, and visitors are welcome to stay afterwards to explore the world of 19th century brewers, or take home a Growler of beer - a 64-ounce refillable jug that was commonly used in the 1800s to transport beer.

steamwhistle.ca :: Steam Whistle is an award-winning brewer who’s primary focus is on making one beer, a Premium Pilsner using traditional brewing techniques. Guided tours are located at the historic steam locomotive Roundhouse converted brewery, just south of the iconic CN Tower and the new Ripley's Aquarium of Canada. Roundhouse Park is a 17 acre park in Downtown Toronto on the former Railway Lands. The old John Street Roundhouse is a preserved locomotive roundhouse which serves as the home to the Toronto Railway Museum and Steam Whistle Brewing. Guided tours of the brewery require bookings and your choice of a souvenir or a take home sample of a 6 or 12 pack of Steam Whistle Pilsner. Of particualr note, the Roundhouse had functioned as a Canadian Pacific Rail steam locomotive repair facility when built in 1929 servicing steam locomotives that helped pioneer this nation. 


Suggested Craft Brewery Tours in the U.S.

For our American choices, let's start off in Asheville, the largest city in Western North Carolina. The beer scene here features everything a beer lover could ever hope for and more. Aside from the lush scenery of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, cascading waterfalls at Sliding Rock and the history at the Grove Park Inn and the Vanderbilts' Biltmore Estate, there's a whole lot brewing in Asheville.

A beer tourist can keep pretty busy in this town and this might be your ultimate craft beer weekend getaway destination with all the amazing brewpubs, micro and craft breweries to select from. Ashville Brewery Tours offers a variety of local tours to well over a dozen brewery destinations in Ashville. There is also the Asheville Brews Cruise offering beer fans in-depth tours throughout the city's brew scene. 

ashevillebrewing.com :: If you make the trip, you must visit Ashville Brewing. Three unique locations, Asheville Brewpub, Brewery, Movie Theater and Pizzaria, with a terrific lineup of brews, some that truly push the paradigm on a variety of creations. From the jalapeno infused Fire Escape, the Mardi Gras inspired Bier de Garde, to the malty, yet hoppy Ashevillian black I.P.A. They also have a movie theatre located on the premises! All tickets are just 3 bucks for all shows. They say the theater is equiped with all the fancy digital sound and picture quality you've come to expect from the full price theaters...even 3d! 

stonebrew.com :: Stone Brewing Company is currently the tenth largest craft brewery in the country with headquarters located on a 19-acre farm in Escondido, California, about 30 miles north of San Diego. Their popular Arrogant Bastard Ale has been a mainstay of the brewery since it was introduced in 1997. Stone Brewing Co. tours are conducted every day. You will learn about the brewing process and craft beer culture. Visit the bistro afterward for fare made with local organic produce or take a stroll in the gardens. Make a day trip to the brewery from the historic US Grant Hotel in San Diego’s vibrant Gaslamp Quarter—it offers easy access to the bustling downtown and major sights.

yuengling.com :: Visit Pottsville, Pennsylvania to tour the site of America’s oldest brewery. Whether or not you consider this brewer craft or not, they are traditional, family owned and operated since 1829. This may be one of the best brewery tours in America! Experience the story of five generations striving to brew premier beers. Learn how the brewery survived Prohibition, and how in the early years beer was distributed from horse-drawn wagons. Discover the hand-dug fermentation caves that were once used for storage before refrigeration. Wander through time and enjoy a taste of living history in a building that has produced fine beers through times of peace, prosperity, upheaval and world war.

aspenbrewingcompany.com :: More than 10% of America’s craft brewers are located in Colorado, home to well over 200 established breweries.  The Front Range of the Southern Rocky Mountain region including Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver and Colorado Springs is where you’ll find most of the beer making. But the mountains and Western slope also has much going on as well. For example the relatively new Aspen Brewing Company has been garnering much attention due to its relaxed casual atmosphere, rooftop patio and sweeping views of Aspen Mountain. If you're looking for something beyond the traditional Aspen scene, this is it.

ww.alaskanbeer.com :: Alaska has a rich history of brewing. From the explorers of the 1700s through the Gold Rush, many a thirsty Alaskan has been able to enjoy locally made beers. In 1986, the Alaskan Brewing Company, the 67th brewery in the country and the first brewery in Juneau since Prohibition, reignited a long tradition. Alaskan beers reflect many of the same characteristics of beers that were brewed here during the gold rush era. From the historically based Alaskan Amber recipe to alder-smoked malts and Sitka spruce tips, Alaskan beers reflect Juneau's local brewing history handcrafting award-winning beer in one of the most majestic locations on Earth. Tours are offered in the 35,000 square feet brewery, in which all of their brewing, bottling and business operations take place. Of particular note, Alaskan Brewing donates 1% of all proceeds from its Alaskan IPA to promote the sustainability of the Pacific Ocean and its coastlines. 

So what's there to see and do in Juneau? Plenty. The obvious must-do activity is checking out the glaciers. Trip Advisor has some suggestions for you: tripadvisor.ca/Attractions-g31020-Activities-Juneau_Alaska.html

foundersbrewing.com :: Located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Founders Brewing Co. is one of the most recognized craft brewers in the United States and ranked in the top breweries in the world by Ratebeer.com. Their All Day IPA is one of the most recognized brands. Founders Brewing Company has been in operation since 1997 and it has no intention of slowing down. This is one of the nations fastest growing breweries and has gone through several expansions throughout the years to keep up with the demand.  This brewery has won several awards for their finely crafted beer putting Grand Rapids on the map.

Spepaking of Grand Rapids, it didn’t just make an appearance on the Lonely Planet’s list of 10 U.S. destinations to visit in 2014. It landed on top. With a little help of course from a 300-mile stretch of beaches along Lake Michigan known as the Gold Coast. And yes, you can even surf!

Dotted with several excellent craft brewers, here is another city that is also known as “Beer City U.S.A”. Grand Rapids Beer Tours is the only company in Grand Rapids that will take you on an adventure to various craft breweries while teaching you about the beers and supplying you with beer samples. We offer safe rides to different breweries where you can experience a variety of craft beers in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area. Learn about the history of beer, different types of beer styles, & a little bit about the history of the surrounding area. www.grbeertours.com


Here’s is a link to “Great Beers In The Great Outdoors” which covers much of North America as well as Europe, Africa and Australia. If you’re into beer, this is a site to check out: allaboutbeer.com/article/beer-outsid


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Blog post by Alex Zafer

 

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