America’s Craft Beer Trails

By Anthony Orig

Beer trails are quickly becoming one of the best ways to get a feel for an area’s beer culture, and taste a variety of craft beers, especially those styles that are specific to that region.

Beer trails are often backed by their states’ craft brewers associations and tourism offices as they promote local business and help bring visitors to the area. Many of these trails also have passport programs and offer a free gift after your pamphlet has been stamped at a certain number of breweries.

Beer trails are designed to fit into a variety of schedules and a stop or two can easily be molded into your next trip. The length of each trail varies, and depending on how many breweries you plan on visiting, your tour can take just a few hours or over a week. Here are 10 of the country’s greatest beer trails.


Colorado

Boulder and the Front Range Breweries, Brewpubs, and Homebrew Shops

If you find yourself on the West End of Pearl Street in Boulder, stop by the Brewers Association to pick up the pamphlet “Boulder and the Front Range Breweries, Brewpubs, and Homebrew Shops.” This guide provides details on the area’s beer-centric businesses, some of which are within walking distance of the Brewers Association. There is also a comprehensive list of the breweries on the Front Range.

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Connecticut

CT Beer Trail

The CT Beer Trail organization has mapped out many of the breweries, brewpubs, beer bars, and homebrew shops within the state. They are continually adding more beer establishments to their database to help visitors explore Connecticut craft beer. CT Beer Trail offers many online resources, including maps, a forum, calendar, photos and videos.

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Delaware

Delaware Ale Trail

The Delaware Ale Trail has partnered with the Delaware Tourism Office to showcase the growing craft beer industry in the state. The trail currently includes 13 breweries and works to promote the local beer-scene and show visitors what craft beer in Delaware has to offer.

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Maine

Maine Beer Trail

Maine is home to 20 breweries and a state brewers’ guild that is dedicated to supporting the growth of the craft beer industry in the state. The Maine Beer Trail is a great way to visit these breweries and even score some free gear. After visiting five breweries, you will receive a baseball hat from one of the breweries, and if you visit all 20, you’ll receive a prize pack of Maine beer gear.

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New York

Empire State Brewery Trails

USA Today says that the Empire State Brewery Trails “highlight the re-emergence of breweries in New York and will help brewers cash in on the popularity of their oatmeal stouts, India pale ales and bitters.” There are four main trails in the system: the Northern, Southern, Central, and Western. Before heading to the Empire State, check out the online resources, including sample itineraries, discounts and tasting tips.

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Oregon | Bend

Bend Ale Trail

In addition to the abundance of craft beer in the city, Bend is also known as an outdoor sports mecca. The Bend Ale Trail is a great way to visit the area, and all eight of the breweries are within walking distance of each other—bonus! When you visit all the breweries on this trail, you’ll receive a free commemorative Bend Silipint. Be sure to check out the convenient online app.

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Oregon | Portland

North Coast Craft Beer Trail

North Coast Craft Beer Trail features breweries outside of Portland, a well known craft beer destination. While this trail is only 30 miles long, it showcases the many amazing breweries along the Oregon coast. Rogue Ales, Fort George Brewery, and the Astoria Brewing Co/Wet Dog Café are just a few of the stops on this trail.

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Montana

Montana Brewery Trail

The Montana Brewery Trail is one of the most impressive trail systems I have seen yet. With nine different trails and trips ranging from one day up to two weeks, the Montana Office of Tourism gives you plenty of options to see their great state and the 23 breweries that call it home. Other attractions on the trail include Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park.

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Virginia

Brew Ridge Trail

The breweries of the Brew Ridge Trail have been brewing up a storm in recent years, and their hard work has paid off in medals from the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. The Brew Ridge Trail takes its name from the Blue Ridge Mountains that stretch through this part of the state and features more breweries than stoplights in this uniquely scenic area.

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Blaze Your Own Beer Trail

CraftBeer.com’s Brewery Locator

Use CraftBeer.com’s Brewery Locator to search for breweries near you or along your next travel route to insure you’re able to grab a fresh, cold pint. You can search by keyword or state, and if you see an American Homebrewers Association (AHA) logo beside the brewery AHA members enjoy discounts at that location.

What other craft beer trails have you been on or heard of?


Anthony OrigAnthony Orig is the current Craft Beer Program Intern at the Brewers Association. He attends the University of Colorado at Boulder and will be graduating in December 2011 with degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, he enjoys craft brews the most after long days of exploring in the mountains. Still new to the craft beer brewing world, he looks forward to learning more about the industry and meeting the people behind the beer. Follow his daily beer and mountain adventures on Twitter.