Top 10 New England breweries welcome beer-loving visitors for tours
Brewery operators in New England are proud of their beers and lagers, and eager to show their hospitality to guests on a vacation or getaway in New England. Here is a list of the best among the best: the top 10 brewery tours and brewers who welcome beer lovers to their unique workplaces.
Various Pickup Locations
Brew Tours of Boston, MA; Portsmouth, NH; and Burlington, VT, 02110
Fans of fine, unique, and regional beers can taste the best brewed offerings of three of New England’s most enjoyable cities: Boston, Massachusetts; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and Burlington, Vermont. The fun happens on the Boston, Portsmouth, and Burlington Brew Tours. These are day-long, guided tours of the most renowned breweries, beer bars, and beer pubs of these uniquely New England cities. Travel is by 12-passenger van, and beer experts guide guests on the entire journey. Stops include the Boston-based breweries of Harpoon and Samuel Adams; the Smuttynose and Portsmouth Breweries in Portsmouth; and the Magic Hat Brewery in Burlington. Each tour includes a beer-inspired lunch at these cities’ best-loved restaurants. This a great outing for a work group, a bachelor party, or just a group of friends.
2800 Lafayette Road
This brewery, founded by a husband-and-wife duo from Ireland, declares, “We brew on site so we can serve you fresh, unfiltered beer. Real beer - water, grain, hops and yeast - no junk.” There are usually at least 14 beers on tap, including NH Maple Wheat, Castletown Honey Brown, and Rye Craic IPA. Tours are not offered formally, but co-owner Michael Potorti says, “People always want to see what’s happening in back and we always accommodate.” Also: light snacks, sport on high-def TV, and live Irish music. The tap room is open Thursdays through Sundays.
50 Industrial Way
Portland visitors who love beer should know about the Allagash Brewing Company. Founded in 1995 as a one-man shop, Allagash brews traditional and experimental Belgian beers. The beers are bottle-conditioned, meaning that a fresh dose of yeast is added just before bottling, allowing a new round of fermentation that enhances the traditional Belgian taste. Tours are offered year-round. Consult the tour calendar and plan ahead; Saturdays are busy. Tours are accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
The beer makers at Foolproof Brewing call their method “experience-based brewing.” That is, each beer is crafted for a particular occasion. Clues are in the names: “"Backyahd," an India pale ale; "Barstool," an American golden ale; "Raincloud," a robust porter; "La Ferme Urbaine," a farmhouse ale; "King of the Yahd," an imperial IPA; "Augtoberfest," a festbier; and "Revelry," a Russian imperial stout. The brewery welcomes visitors. Tastings are held Friday evenings and on-hour tours are held Saturday afternoons. Guests of tastings and tours take home up to 72 ounces of beer.
632 Laporte Road (Route 100)
Beers and gear to go: growler refills, kegs, bottles, Rock Art swag, Vermont foods and handcrafted wood items. Open daily except Sundays, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tastings daily until 5:30 p.m. The brewery has a a wonderful viewing area upstairs and it offers tours daily at 2 and 4 p.m. and a special tour Saturdays, at 11 a.m. With the purchase of a $4 souvenir glass.
1336 Phinney’s Lane
HYANNIS, MA, 02601
Cape Cod Beer started out in April of 2004, brewing at the old Hyport Brewing Company on Main Street in Hyannis. Now, the brewery, on Phinney’s Lane, is a 15 bbl direct fired brew house with 9-by-30 bbl and 3-by-15 bbl fermenters. The company brews about 10 to 12 times a week during the high season, and about half that during the off season and distribute beer from Plymouth to Provincetown. Year-round beers are Cape Cod Red, Cape Cod IPA, and Cape Cod Beach Blonde Ale. Several seasonal beers celebrate summer, fall, and winter.
Guided tours are offered Tuesdays and 11 a.m. and Saturdays, at 1 p.m. Visitors may take self-guided tours during regular retail hours, Monday-Friday, noon-6 p.m. and Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
16 Tobey Road
Bloomfield, CT, 06002
Thomas Hooker Brewing Company is Connecticut's local brewery with a national reputation. Hooker offers eleven unique beers (7 ales and 4 lagers) and was ranked number 15 in the top 50 American Micro Breweries by the Beer Advocate.
Hooker is open tours and tastings every Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. For $5 you'll get a guided tour of the brewery and a full tasting of Hooker brews. If you taste a beer you like pick up a growler of brewery fresh beer. Friday open houses are held the first and third Friday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. A happy hour with drinks, a guided tour, and a pint glass for $10.
86 Newbury Street
The Shipyard Brewing Company has been making award-winning, hand-crafted beer in Maine for nearly 20 years. In 1992, entrepreneur Fred Forsley and master brewer Alan Pugsley started Federal Jack's Restaurant & Brew Pub, the birthplace of Shipyard ales.
The craft brew industry was just starting in Maine and Pugsley had recently moved here from England where he'd learned to brew under Peter Austin at the world-famous Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire. The launch of Federal Jack's coincided with the birth of America's craft beer industry. Shipyard beers are brewed by hand in small batches using top-fermenting, multi-strain yeast from Ringwood Brewery.
Free tours by reservation are offered April through December on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. These are full tours of the brewery. There is limited space (25 people) and reservations are required. The company’s trade brewer, Bruce Elam, hosts these full tours.
135 Main Street
North Woodstock, NH
The beauty and flavor of the White Mountains of New Hampshire adds zest to a visit and tour of the Woodstock Inn Brewery. Free tours are offered daily at noon, and they include a short demo and a showcase of the brewery’s products, one star of the lineup being Pig's Ear Brown, which won the National Beer Tasting Championships two years in a row.
The brewery and brew pub take their commitment to quality very seriously. The business’s seven-barrel system is used in combination with premium hops from around the world, imported English grains, and pure, well water to produce a tasty assortment of seasonal ales.
A helpful Brew Sampler of four five-ounce glasses of your choice of beers can help you determine your favorite among Red Rack, Pig's Ear, Pemil Pale Ale, Loon Golden Ale, and any seasonal offerings. Take home a half-gallon Growler jug if you like. Or stay a night or two in this small homestead in the big mountains, near many attractions and ski resorts (Loon Mountain, Waterville Valley, Cannon Mountain). Take exit 32 off I-93.
5 Bartlett Bay Road
SOUTH BURLINGTON, VT
The Magic Hat Brewery cranks out 400 bottles of beer every minute. The Magic Hat Artifactory, the nerve center of it all, includes the Growler Bar, where 48 taps flow with a constantly changing line-up of beers, including year-round offerings, seasonal and experimental brews. The roster of flavors exceeds the number of beers Magic Hat distributes, so come check out some lesser-known libations.
The tour ramp is open for free guided tours on Thursday-Friday, 3, 4, and 5 p.m.; Saturday, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, p.m.; Sunday, 1:30 p.m. Guests are encouraged to come by and take a self-guided tour during Artifactory hours: Monday-Thursday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
336 Ruth Carney Drive
Harpoon was founded in Boston and expanded in 2000 to a location in Windsor, Vermont. Harpoon draws on numerous brewing traditions, always added its own interpretation to match customers’ tastes. The Windsor brewery features a production viewing area where guests can check out the Brewhouse up close and learn about Harpoon. The Windsor location also has a Brewery Store and the Harpoon Riverbend Taps and Beer Garden restaurant.
Guided tours of the brewery are offered Fridays at 5, 6, and 7 p.m.; Saturdays, every hour from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, every hour from noon to 4 p.m. The tour is followed by a Harpoon and UFO beer tasting.
175 State Road East
Wachusett Brewery’s three co-founders developed an appreciation for beer while attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Armed with a can-do attitude, the three cast off from their careers in engineering and biology to found the Wachusett Brewing Co. in 1993. The three founders designed and built most of the equipment; did the brewing and filling, selling and delivering.
Brewery tours are offered Wednesday and Thursday, noon-4 p.m. (last tour at 3); Friday and Saturday, noon-5 p.m. (last tour at 4). Brewery store hours are Wednesday and Saturday, noon-5 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, noon-6 p.m. The company also hosts tastings, pint nights, and special events.
Coastal Extreme Brewing Co., 293 JT Connell Road
Newport, RI, 02840
It isn’t surprising to hear that four guys from college came up with an idea to start a brewery. In July 1999 the brewery’s first beer, Hurricane Amber Ale, was released. Since then, the brewery has continued to slowly build itself and its reputation. In 2006 the Newport Distilling Company opened, making Thomas Tew Rum. In 2010 the brewery and distillery built a new facility in the north Newport, including a Visitors Center and tour deck.
The visitors center is open for tours and tastings daily except Tuesdays from noon to 5 p.m. During opening hours, visitors may enjoy a tasting of Newport Storm beer and Thomas Tew rum. Self-guided tours during all open hours; guided tours leave once daily at 3 p.m. Closed Tuesdays. No reservations are necessary for groups of less than ten people. The visitors center has a gift shop with glassware, apparel, and Storm and Tew gear.
108 County Street
BENNINGTON, VT, 05201
Northshire Brewery is a craft brewery specializing in classically styled hand-made session beers. Northshire Brewery will be conducting tours where the general beer-loving public can come see how and where Northshire beer is created, and chat with the owners and brewers. We ask that you respect our hectic schedule and only show up during the designated tour periods so that we can get back to brewing the beer you want to drink. Tour schedule: Tuesday and Thursday, 3-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Tours are free.
1 Redhook Way Pease International Tradeport
PORTSMOUTH, NH, 03801
Built in 1996, Redhook’s brewery now is located in the Pease Tradeport in Portsmouth. The brewery mimics the same architectural style as its Woodinville, Washington, brother, which was influenced by the brewhouses of Bavaria. The grounds are home to many events and festivities during the summer, including the popular Redhookfest, usually held in August.
All tours of the brewery include a guided walking through the brewery, some Redhook history, an explanation of how the ales are madwe, a sampling session or three to four beers, and a souvenir glass. Tour lasts about 45-60 minutes. Minors may attend tour but must be accompanied by an adult. Brewery tours are held Monday, 3, 4, 5 p.m.; Tuesday, noon, 1 and 2 p.m. ; Wednesday and Thursday, 1, 3, 5 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. on the hour; Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. on the hour. Check schedule in advance; times of public tours are subject to change.
30 Germania Street
Boston, MA, 02130
Samuel Adams defines itself as a American craft brewer, meaning that it is small, with an annual production of less than 6 million barrels; independent, meaning that less than 25 percent of the brewery is controlled by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not itself a craft brewer; and traditional, meaning that it produces an all-malt flagship beer or produces a volume of at least 50 percent in either all malt beers or in beers that use adjuncts to enhance rather than lighten flavor. Plus, it is named after a great Massachusetts patriot.
During free brewery tours, guests can learn Sam’s history, see the brewing process,taste the malts used to brew Samuel Adams beers, smell the Hallertau hops, and sample some award winning beers. Tours are Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. All tours depart approximately every 45 minutes and last about 1 hour. To avoid long waits we recommend you arrive as early in the tour day as possible. Saturdays are especially busy and capacity is often filled by noon. No reservations.
Cottrell Brewing Co., 100 Mechanic Street
Pawcatuck, CT, 06379
Cottrell Brewing Company is a Connecticut-based micro brewery, manufacturing craft beers in the New England tradition. Its flagship brew is Old Yankee Ale, a medium-bodied American amber ale, with an up-front malt taste and refreshing hop finish. In 2010, the company launched Mystic Bridge, a year-round New England IPA with hints of citrus. The latest release, out since December 2011, is Perry’s Revenge Scotch Ale. Revenge is a malty beast at 8.5 percent with nice round notes of chocolate and raisin.
Tours and tastings are held Monday-Wednesday by appointment; Thursday at 3 p.m.; Friday tours on the half hour from 3 to 6 p.m.; Saturday tours on the half hour from 1 to 5 p.m.
15 Knox Road
Bar Harbor, ME, 04609
Maine has a fine heritage of microbreweries of various styles. Atlantic Brewing Co. has been brewing Bar Harbor Real Ale and Bar Harbor Blueberry Ale for over a decade, and find loyal followers throughout Maine and the micro brewing world. The new facility was built on the site of an old farm a few miles from downtown Bar Harbor. It was designed to create a more visitor-friendly environment similar to country wineries and breweries found throughout Europe.
Free tours of the brew house are offered daily at 2, 3, and 4 p.m. from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Free tastings of beers and sodas also can be done in the gift shop. No reservation is necessary for tours0.