Beer lovers, rejoice: There are a plethora of regions across the U.S. where you can sample inventive local brews. Here are eight regions with designated beer trails, making your beercation even easier to plan.
By Amy Plitt, CNTraveler.com
GRAND RAPIDS BEER CITY ALE TRAIL
The Great Lakes State is home to some of the country’s most celebrated breweries, including Founders Brewing Co. (creators of the cultish Kentucky Bourbon Stout) and Bell’s Brewery—and those are two of the spots you can visit on this suds-focused route. (Well, okay, the Bell’s locale is a brewpub at the Grand Rapids airport, but it still counts.) Hit more than 30 breweries throughout the region: In addition to those larger beer-makers, you can sample suds from local nanobrewers like White Flame Brewing.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EXPERIENCE GRAND RAPIDS
DENVER BEER TRAIL
Sure, you could visit the massive Coors brewery if you’re visiting Colorado, but there are far more interesting beers being produced in the heart of the Mile High City. For a sampling of what the city has to offer, travel along the Denver Beer Trail, with 14 participating breweries throughout the area. A booklet produced by Denver’s visitors bureau makes it easy to track which beers you’ve sampled: Great Divide Brewing Co.’s award-winning Denver Pale Ale is a sure bet, while more adventurous types can try Wynkoop Brewing Company’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout, made with—gulp—bull testicles.
PHOTO: ART HEFFRON PHOTOGRAPHY
MAINE BEER TRAIL
Created by the Maine Brewers’ Guild—an organization dedicated to promoting the state’s craft-beer creators, with members like Allagash and Peak Organic Brewing Company—the Maine Beer Trail includes more than 40 participating breweries throughout the state. The guild offers a passport of sorts, so you can keep track of how many beer-makers you’ve visited; hit at least 20, and you’ll get a free T-shirt. (One caveat: The breweries are all over the place, so if you want to hit that many in a short trip, you’ll need a car. Just be responsible about driving.)
PHOTO COURTESY ALLAGASH BREWING COMPANY
THE BEND ALE TRAIL
Portland may get most of the credit as Oregon’s big beer city, but don’t discount Bend, a small city in the heart of the state, as a brew-lover’s destination. Its Ale Trail has 14 participating breweries, including microbrewers (like Rat Hole Brewing Company, founded in 2013) and bigger-name producers (Deschutes, Cascade Lakes). And there are incentives to hitting all 14: If you get your ale trail passport stamped at 10, you get a pint glass; complete the route and you’ll get a bottle opener, too.
PHOTO: JOSHUA RAINEY / ALAMY
HUDSON VALLEY BEER TRAIL
If you’ve only ever checked out wineries in the Hudson Valley, you’re missing out: The area is home to a plethora of craft breweries, including the nine stand-out spots you’ll find along the Hudson Valley Beer Trail. Following the route will take you to craft beer-makers like Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, Keegan Ales, and Newburgh Brewing Company. And if you’re worried about sipping and driving, the Little Beer Bus (the brainchild of Beer Trail founder Tania Dougherty) is there to ferry drinkers to and from the various breweries and distilleries in the area.
PHOTO COURTESY KEEGAN ALES
See Also: America’s Best Sandwiches
DELMARVA WINE AND ALE TRAIL
A short trip along the Delmarva coast will take you to a number of awesome breweries (and wineries, if that’s your thing). Probably the best-known of the bunch is Dogfish Head, with two locations on the trail (its brewery in Milton, Delaware, and a brewpub in Rehobeth Beach), but don’t miss out on the more under-the-radar spots, like Burley Oak Brewing Co. (in Berlin, Maryland), or 3rd Wave Brewing out of Delmar, Delaware.
PHOTO: BLOOMBERG VIA GETTY IMAGES
MONTANA BREWERS TRAIL
There’s more to Montana than wide-open prairies and Glacier National Park. The state also has a thriving craft-beer scene, with more than 30 breweries as part of its beer trail. Most are clustered around the state’s western edge, but considering how spread out everything is in Big Sky Country, you’re better off planning a few days to hit the entire thing.
PHOTO: FRANK VETERE / ALAMY
CT BEER TRAIL
Connecticut’s beer scene is thriving, and the CT Beer Trail, launched in 2010, is proof. More than a dozen breweries throughout the state are involved, along with brew pubs, beer shops, and more. Participating brewers include Cottrell Brewing Company, responsible for what’s purportedly “the oldest continuously brewed and bottled beer” in the state, and Two Roads Brewing Co., a newcomer that produces a selection of delicious microbrews.
PHOTO: DENIS JR. TANGNEY/GETTY IMAGES
More From Condé Nast Traveler: