6 of America’s Best Resort Towns for Craft Beer

Share Post

Link to article

If there’s one thing we love more than craft beer, it’s the traditional American vacation. From the halcyon days of Thomas Jefferson’s visits to Virginia’s Homestead resort to modern businesspeople beach-bumming at the Outer Banks of North Carolina, an occasional retreat from our daily lives is as American as apple pie.

For years, vacationers were destined to find themselves marooned among the mass-produced domestic light lagers that dominated resort towns. Now, with craft beer’s ever-growing popularity, America’s getaway destinations feature delicious beer made right in the community. Here are some of America’s finest craft beers brewed in six of our favorite resort towns:

The Catskills, New York

The Catskills offer a mountainous escape with plentiful outdoor activities and famed farm-to-table cuisine. Calling to those getting away from the gridlock, the Catskills embrace a rugged rural culture that’s a respite from the rat race.


In the mid-1900s, the bustling “Borscht Belt” hosted thousands of visitors. Though many of the once-resplendent family resorts nestled amongst the Catskills are now defunct, memories of summers past have led modern-day families to seek the same retreat.

Freak Tractor (Model 14) | Catskill Brewery | Livingston Manor, NY

Freak Tractor is a wild ale brewed with 100 percent Brettanomyces yeast, which imparts a fruity and smooth character without the muskiness of some wild ales. Both refined and unpredictable, this 6.4 percent ABV ale aligns with the Catskills’ rustic yet sophisticated culture. Surprisingly full-bodied with a pleasant effervescence, Freak Tractor is both earthly and other-worldly.

Other Breweries Nearby

Sunriver, Oregon

This high-desert resort town used to be dwarfed by neighboring Bend’s beer pedigree. Sunriver features hundreds of miles of well-loved bike paths, and it’s just a short drive from Mt. Bachelor, the source of some of Oregon’s finest powder. This active vacationer’s Valhalla beckons bike riders, black diamond seekers, rock climbers and kayakers alike. And Bend isn’t the only beer mecca nearby—there are plenty of great breweries in Eugene and other towns, as well as local options.

sunriver oregon

Vicious Mosquito India Pale Ale | Sunriver Brewing Co. |  Sunriver, OR

Vicious Mosquito harnesses the piney aroma of the coniferous forests surrounding Sunriver. This year-round IPA weighs in at 7 percent ABV and features a luscious floral aroma plus a dank, balanced bitterness. What better beer to pair with the outdoors than this resinous beauty?

Other Breweries Nearby

Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Outer Banks are rich with aviation, colonial and military heritage. Those seeking to discover historical innovation and intrigue, breathtaking natural lands, fresh seafood and a laidback culture have long favored this windswept archipelago.

Ölsch Kolsch | Outer Banks Brewing Station | Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

outerbanks north carolina

Outer Banks’ Ölsch is a lively, light and breezy ale befitting the wind-powered brewpub. It pairs equally well with the abundant seasonal seafood offerings and the brewery’s frequent live music performances. Ölsch is crisp and refreshing, coming in at a sessionable 4.8 percent ABV. Enjoying Ölsch near where the Wright brothers first took to the sky will have you floating on air.

Other Breweries Nearby

Lake Tahoe, California

Lake Tahoe, a high-Sierras jewel on the California-Nevada border, is known for its all-season recreation, boundless sunshine and crystal-clear waters. This environmentally-conscious outdoor haven’s glimmering lake and alpine views harken back to a wilderness that was once home to famed mountain men. Tahoe Mountain Brewing embodies that same feral spirit, as the barrel program at the lakeside brewpub continues to impress.

Gose Rustica | Tahoe Mountain Brewing | Tahoe City, CA

lake tahoe

Beers like Gose Rustica illustrate the melding of tradition and innovation that defines this Great American Beer Festival-medaling brewery. Gose Rustica (4.2 percent ABV) is brewed with not only the traditional addition of salt, but also woodruff, wormwood and coriander for an earthy character that ties it back to the land.

Tahoe Mountain balances experimentation with the sort of irreverence that typifies the Tahoe lifestyle, perhaps best exemplified in the brewery’s iconoclastic 100 percent lacto-IPA and its 100 percent Brettanomyces IPA affectionately named “Party Boy.”

Other Breweries Nearby

Jackson, Wyoming

Worlds collide in Jackson. Between the posh glamping, working dude ranches, private jet-setters, ski bums, five-star resorts, tranquil fly-fishing streams, and nearby national parks, it seems a planet unto itself—somehow both insular and global. Billed as “Jackson’s Living Room” and twice named Small Brewery of the Year at the Great American Beer Festival, Snake River Brewing’s brewpub offers rotating house taps and food.

jackson wyoming

Buffalo Brown Ale | Snake River Brewing | Jackson, WY

Buffalo Brown is a balanced, toasty English-style ale. Paying homage to a beast of paramount importance in western American history, Buffalo Brown is a continental ale with American style that comes in at 4.7 percent ABV.

Sacred Creed Saison | Q Roadhouse Brewing Co. | Jackson, WY

Wyoming is synonymous with big mountains, big adventure and big historical personalities. Part of the state’s source of pride is a certain boldness of character that led adventurers and homesteaders of yore to traverse the wild Tetons, the punishing open plains, and the rushing rivers that secure Wyoming’s place in lore and legend. Sacred Creed Saison (6.5 percent ABV) is a Franco-Belgian-style ale brewed with wild yeast and American hops, symbolizing the untamed spirit of the pioneer life. It’s a damn shame those homesteaders never got to whet their whistle with this sweet and spicy beer.

jackson wyoming

Other Breweries Nearby

Big Sur, California

Big Sur, the name for the nearly 90 miles of winding Pacific Coast Highway between San Simeon and Carmel, offers tourists breathtaking views of sea life and quintessential coastal cliffs.

Night Rider session black IPA | Alvarado Street Brewery | Monterey, CA

big sur california

Alvarado Street Brewery in Monterey, near the northern tip of Big Sur, is a 10-barrel brewhouse and restaurant housed in a former Elks Club and theater that was built in the famed Beaux Arts architectural style. The easy-drinking Night Rider is dry-hopped to give it a distinctly West Coast hop aroma and flavor. With a pleasant roastiness and lower ABV, this beer pairs perfectly with a day at the shore alongside sunbathing sea lions.

With so many resort towns offering incredible sights and adventure across the nation, vacationing could easily be a full-time job. But the next time you head out for a getaway, you can rest easy; delicious craft beer is never far away.

Hanna Laney is a freelance writer living in Portland, Oregon. She began her career working in some of America's best-loved craft breweries and now works for her family business, Laney Family Farms. She likes Cascade hops, medium-rare steak and low-brow television.

CraftBeer.com is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on CraftBeer.com do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.