Planning Your East Coast Brewery Tour

If you’re a homebrewer, you’re always looking for new inspiration for your next batch of beer. You might have a favorite brewery that you frequent, and that can be a great way to get ideas for new flavors and varieties of beer. However, it’s always good to expand your horizons and visit other breweries, and speak with other brewmasters and patrons who love all types of beer. In this post, we’ll look at some East Coast breweries that you should add to your list of places to visit for new ideas!


The craft beer industry in Virginia has boomed very quickly from just a handful of craft breweries a couple of years ago to more than 200 famed breweries.

Starr Hill Brewery

This award-winning brewery is nestled in the small town of Crozet, VA. It was founded in the late 1990s, and it is well known for its Front Row Golden Ale, Northern Lights IPA, and JOMO Vienna-Style Lager. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, stop by and try a beer or two!

Lost Rhino Brewing Company

Lost Rhino Brewing Company is located in Ashburn, VA, just under an hour outside of D.C.. They have a great lineup to choose from, including the Rhino Chasers Pilsner and the Meridian Kolsch. Their seasonals include a Dark Czech Lager and a Session IPA. You can also find limited release beers, and be sure to ask about their Genius Loci Series.

North Carolina

Heading south from Virginia, we take a look at some of the best breweries in the Tar Heel State. North Carolina boasts the largest number of craft breweries in the American South, with more than 320 breweries and brewpubs.

Appalachian Mountain Brewery

Nestled in the northern part of the state in Boone, NC, Appalachian Mountain Brewery has an outstanding selection of beers. The Boone Creek Blonde Ale is named for the creek along which the brewery is built, and the Spoaty-Oaty is perfect for anyone who loves American-style Pale Ales. The head brewer, Nathan Kelischek, is an alumni of Appalachian State University’s Fermentation Sciences program, and the brewery sponsors students who are interested in brewing through internships and collaborations with the university.

Fullsteam Brewery

Located in the heart of Durham, NC, Fullsteam Brewery buys ingredients from local farmers for their brews. The results of these local ingredients are beers such as the Paycheck Pilsner, the Humidity Pale Ale, and the Working Man’s Lunch Brown Ale. They pride themselves on their Southern-style beers, and if you’re ever nearby, why not stop in and try one or two?


Now heading north of our home state, let’s look at some of the best breweries in Maryland.

Jailbreak Brewing Company

Situated in Laurel, MD, Jailbreak Brewing Company has a 16,000 square-foot brewing facility that is in full view of the tasting room. Founded in 2013 and getting fully up and running in 2014, Jailbreak has been making delicious beers like the Big Punisher Double IPA, the Feed the Monkey Hefeweizen, and the Poor Righteous American IPA for nearly four years.

1812 Brewery

The 1812 Brewery in Cumberland, MD lives up to its name, as it’s housed in a repurposed barn that was built in the year 1812. It’s also the first and only farm brewery in Allegany County, and with a lineup that includes the Maddy Golden Ale, the Pack Saddle Double IPA, and the Wheeler’s Irish Stout, there’s a choice for every taste.

We love helping people brew their next batch of beer, no matter if it’s their first or their fiftieth. Our digital hydrometer lets you keep an eye on everything as it’s fermenting, and you can check your beer’s status wherever you are through our integrated app.


The Green Mountain State is home to many breweries, and there are some gems nestled among the lush hills and acres of mountain terrain.

Fiddlehead Brewing Company

Located in Shelburne, VT, near the shores of Lake Champlain, sits Fiddlehead Brewing Company. Their beer selection often rotates, but you can always find well-balanced beers that provide a unique taste experience. They offer a Belgian-inspired Witbier, a double IPA, and an unfiltered session ale that pairs well with pizza. If you find yourself in Shelburne, stop by and try a few pints!

New Hampshire

If you’re making your way up the East Coast, and you find yourself in New Hampshire, then you might have a hard time deciding which brewery you will visit. There are plenty to visit, and you could spend a week traveling around to all of them!

Oddball Brewing Co

This brewery located in Suncook, NH, is only open Friday through Sunday, so if you want to stop by, you’ll have to plan accordingly. Their Suncook Lager is a pre-Prohibition style lager that is made with corn instead of rice, which gives it a crisper flavor. The Nymph Belgian Blonde using New Zealand and Japanese hops, and the Albino Moose IPA is a bit of a different take on a traditional India Pale Ale. They also have some seasonal beers, so depending on when you’re there, you can try a few different types.


Once you’ve reached Maine, you’ve reached the end of the line when it comes to the East Coast, and the only thing you can do is turn around and head back, or continue on into Canada. While you’re in Maine, why not find a craft brewery and enjoy a tasty beer or two?

Orono Brewing

Situated in Orono, ME, Orono Brewing Company is open seven days a week, so no matter when you’re there, you can try one of their beers. The Thelma Cabernet Barrel-Aged Saison is made with Belgian DuPont Saison yeast, and the primary fermentation takes place in stainless vats. The secondary fermentation occurs in California cabernet oak barrels, and the flavor offers fruity, spicy, and jammy notes. You can also try the Tiger Style Fierce Pale Ale, the Bog Monster DIPA, and many other varieties.

We hope that you’ve enjoyed our trip of the East Coast and all of the breweries that we’ve noted over the past couple of months. If you’re ever near any of these spots, we hope that you’ll stop in and try some of their beer. Who knows? You may taste something that inspires you to go home and brew something you’d never thought of before.

We love helping people achieve their homebrewing dreams, and if you’re looking for a digital hydrometer that can provide you with accurate readings during the brewing and fermentation processes, then order one online today. We’re here to answer any questions that you may have and offer any support that you may need.

If you’ve been thinking about taking a trip up and down the East Coast in the near future, visiting as many breweries and trying as many beers as you can, then hopefully this list will help you get started.

Beer in Portland

And maybe sometimes you betray Austin a bit and wish you were there right now; like this very moment. With average high temps 15 degrees cooler, 5x as many local breweries, streets that disappear into snow capped peaks, and zero sales tax you may be tempted to start combing the Portland Craigslist for even the most grueling of data entry jobs.

So if you have/can find the means to get to the nations most beer friendly city, here’s a few recommendations both beer and otherwise:

First, the beer

Portland is home to 28 local breweries and unless you’re replying to that CL ad right now or planning an extended stay, you’re probably not going to see them all. So, before you go, visit and make a game plan. If you find yourself downtown, may we suggest the Deschutes and Rogue Public Houses? Also visit Belmont Station to pick up all the beer you can’t find here in Austin (or anywhere in TX for that matter) and sample as you see fit. There is no shortage of beer bars to stumble into and you’re going to be hard-pressed to find one that’s not pouring a wide selection of local brews.

The McMenamins Empire

So what is McMenamins? A better question might be: What isn’t it? The local chain boasts an impressive lineup of brewpubs, restaurants, theaters, hotels, and a legendary music venue. There are about sixty locations overall, and most of them are in the Portland area. The McMenamins brothers have done a great job of picking some extraordinary sites to transform into their signature style including an old Elementary School (The Kennedy School), a former Multnomah County Poor Farm (Edgefield) and an abandoned Masonic Lodge (Grand Lodge). Most rooms at the hotels are cheap, and you can dine and catch a second-run movie on-site at most locations. Try the sampler, and if you get a room, take the Mason jar down to the pub for a pint-priced Mason-Growler to go. If the McMenamins clan could show first runs and some special events, they might just be able to give a certain local theater chain a run for it’s money.

Powell’s Books

This bookstore is so big you need to pick up a map to make your way through all of its color-coded rooms. In fact, it’s the largest independent in the nation. Plan to spend a few hours looking through/buying classic copies of used books. And even if you only read a few chapters of said books before they end up on your bookshelf, you can at least take comfort in knowing that Half Price will always take them off your hands later turning that tattered paperback into a Pint at the Draught House.

The Doug Fir

This local Diner/Music Venue has been described as a 1970’s era log cabin combined with a spaceship. If that’s not enough to get you there, the lumberjack approved breakfast menu is pretty damn good too. Also, check out the mural rooms next door at the Jupiter Hotel.,

Keep Portland Weird

That’s right, they stole our mantra. But Portlanders love their independent merchants just as much as we do. So hit up Hawthorne, Burnside, and Downtown to take in some of the unique stores. Don’t spend too much time doing this though or there’ll be no time or money for beer.

Get Outside. The scenery is spectacular. Austin’s got live music and heat; Portland’s got forests, mountains and rain. You can’t win them all. Check out the 400+ acre Washington Park and the Downtown Waterfront as well.

So I think that’s it for this beer blog post turned travel review. If you find your way up to Austin’s slightly cooler but maybe jaded sister city, enjoy the beer, enjoy the weather, but don’t forget where you came from.

Beer in San Francisco

So, recently, I traveled to the cloudy city on the coast that once played host to the Tanners.

As this was a work trip I didn’t get out to explore as much as I would have liked, but I did get in some good stops. Much thanks to the community and various other people I affronted at bars asking about places to go for the recommendations. They were all great.

My job put me up in the Argonaut hotel on the pier. It was like the Nautica display at Dillard’s but with easy to find bathrooms. Luckily, it was neighbors with Jack’s Cannery Bar, a gimmicky multi-tap you might expect to find in a mall or an airport. What Jack’s lacked in credibility it made up for in beer selection. Boasting 110 taps to taste from, there were more than I expected of quality beers. Being in SF, they had a solid row of Anchor Brewing Co taps including the anniversary Humming Ale. I hit this place up my first night and the site of all those Anchor taps was pretty nice. They also had some Alaskan Brewing on and Moylan’s that I’d never tried before.

On my second night in the city I traversed way beyond the neighborhood of the Argonaut. Being on a per diem budget (WTF!?) I took the Muni to City Beer Store on Folsom per recommendation of Certified Cicerone, Rob at Ranger Creek, formerly of Flying Saucer. Unfortunately, they are closed on Mondays… It was pretty sad as I could see those glistening bottles of beautiful beers I could never get in Texas sitting there just on the other side of a pane of glass. I stopped being the creepy-staring-into-the-window guy and hoofed it down to Whole Foods where I dropped more money than I care to mention on bottles. I got a few Pliny’s, a Russian River DamnationAlaskan Smoked Porter, Alaskan Barelywine, Nest Espresso Stout, a Black Wheat from the Bruery, and a few other tasty souvenirs.

From there I walked the few block to 21st Amendment. I’ve had their Brew Free or Die Hard IPA before (via this jerk) but that’s it. In the brewpub it was super crowded (especially for a Monday night!) I had the sampler,

but the double IPA and the Hell or High Water Melon were the only ones that stood out. I had always thought of the water melon wheat as a gimmicky “girl beer” concoction, but I really really enjoyed it and regretted not bringing any back. The food was decent. I can’t even recall what I had, but don’t remember it being terrible. On the whole, I felt like 21st Amendment might have been a bit over hyped in my mind. But it was still nothing to scoff at.

I took a cab back to the hotel.

The pinnacle of the work portion of my trip was this next day, so to say the least I was ready to drink some beer this night. I met up with my cousin who lived in SF at the time and took the Muni to Haight-Ashbury. We stopped first at Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery for some beers and food. They had some great beers, and we landed there on $2 house brew night! Knowing I had other plans for the evening I only partook in one full pint of Sara’s Ruby Brown (an award winning session Bitter). They sold me half pints of the other beers I wanted to try. I especially enjoyed the Saison. The food here is better than average without the place coming off as too nice to throw back one too many on a school night. I liked it. Also, they serve their beers in those awesome wide-mouth imperial pints.

From here we took the short ride to the Tornado. I started with a Russian River Blind Pig IPA. Good, OK. Then I had the Supplication by Russian River. Yeah, better. Hmm. Then my cousin left me and I met a guy who grew up in Round Rock and he and his buddy suggested a slew of local stuff for me to try. The bartenders were very cool with me trying stuff and served me in half pints. I really can’t recall all I had that night, but I remember coming back to the Supplication a few times. I know the Stone Sublimely Self Righteous sat in front of me at some point. I think I had an Imperial Pilsner from either Boulevard or Whidmer (I don’t think they even make one) and then something special from Sierra Nevada, but can’t for the life of me recall. Maybe I posted about it on Twitter.

I also took some photos but can’t recall where they went either. I did get home with my debit card, phone, wallet and ID.

I took a cab back to the hotel wt a stop over at In-N-Out Burger.


I can’t finish this write up wt/out giving huge Internet hugs and kisses to JetBlue who have been the coolest and most accommodating airline  I’ve ever experienced in helping me get all my beer home in one piece. They gave me fragile stickers and everything. Not one broken bottle!

So hit up SF for beer, weather, good food, work trips, etc. There are a ton of great places to go that I missed, look them up, or if you have any favorites I left out, leave them in the comments.


Beer in Chicago

Chicago is the home of the Cubs, Kanye, Batman & Ferris Bueller. What’s not to love about this city?

The girlfriend and I recently made our way north to visit her old college roommate. While she was excited about spending time with an old friend,

I was really looking forward to the beer. I spent the weeks prior to the trip perusing the Beer Advocate forums for suggestions and mapping out the best bars & beer stores. As usual I was far too optimistic in the amount of time we would be devoting to beer and many of the stops I hoped to make were left unseen. With a good friend, who loves to have company, why rush yourself to see it all in one trip?

The first thing I noticed about the beer bars in Chicago were the lack of taps. At least a lack of taps like I am used to seeing here in Texas. Out of the places we ventured nowhere had more than 25 taps. Most would have an impressive assortment of bottles but a much smaller assortment on draft. Is this a bad thing? Not really. I was just amazed that these bars, which were all recommendations from fellow Beer Advocates, were touted as each being “the best beer selections in the city.” Maybe Chicago just prefers a modest selection of excellent beers? Because that is exactly what it was. The few bars I was able to drag my female companions along to left us more than satisfied. Our first stop, The Local Option, was a cajun bar/restaurant in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. With a diverse selection of regional beers, friendly bartenders & the claim of being the only bar in the US to have Mikkeller’s beers on tap, I fully understand why this bar was a recommendation. The food was good.

The beer was better. Other notable bars were Sheffield’s Beer Garden which boosts a nice patio and multiple rooms, each with their own bar which helped to provide a cozier atmosphere. The Map Room was a stop on our final night in town. Again a small selection of local beers and unique imports, and a laid back bar despite the heavy metal coming from the jukebox. And if you’re looking to bring a little bit of Chicago back with you be sure to check out one of the many Binny’s Beverage Depot around town. Out of the two I stopped into, the one at N Clark & Halsted had a better selection.

When I said I was motivated to visit Chicago because of the beer I was kind of lying. I went for the beer and for St. Vincent. The latter we managed to see play at The Metro our first night in Chicago. The show was amazing. The venue was fantastic. It reminded me of The Paramount Theater but on a much smaller and more intimate scale. I would highly recommend seeing a concert there. Afterwards walk around the Wrigleyville Area, maybe even grab dinner at the Wrigleyville Dogs directly across the street. The best, even if it is the only, Chicago Style Dog I’ve ever had.

The majority of our time was spent walking through downtown & the different neighborhoods of Chicago taking in the character of each one.

If Architecture peaks your interests The Chicago Architecture Foundation offers many tours throughout the year, including many based around the works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Unfortunately most of the Wright tours were not offered in February. We spent a good deal of time making our way through The Art Institute of Chicago and it’s many exhibits. Admission was free for the month of February which made it very hard to pass up. And since you like beer, I am going to assume that you like Sushi as well. If so you’re in luck. Our farewell dinner was at Mirai Sushi in Wicker Park. While expensive, it is totally worth the price you pay. Easily the best sushi I have ever had.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer size of Chicago, especially if you believe Austin is a big city. For a city that is neck and neck with Houston, in terms of population, we found Chicago to be much more navigable. The people are welcoming. The weather was cold. But the beer is what made me write this post.

Beer in Washington D.C.

I had only been to Washington D.C. briefly as a kid, so as I ventured there recently  for a concert I was anxious to check out a bit of the beer scene during what little free time I had. I was in for some nice treats.

I didn’t spend time doing any research before I left other than reading s posts from the SAVOR event only a week before my visit. If nothing else, having his ChurchKey recommendation was enough to make the visit a success (more on that later).

When we arrived late on Saturday night our first priority was food. I looked up what was nearby to find Capitol City Brewing Company had “above average” pub fare. Good enough. We arrived to find a fairly large place with more of a restaurant feel and a large circle bar in the middle (and plenty of flatscreens playing ESPN).

I opted for the sampler – their four staple beers and one seasonal. We started out pretty strong with a solid Kolsch and hoppy, tasty amber. From there we moved into a less than impressive pale and unforgettable porter.

They did have one of their summer beers on, a “Red, White and Blue Wheat” that used white malt and was brewed with raspberries and blueberries. Taste like America? No. Summer? Yes. It was refreshing. There were about three more rotating house beers on the menu as well. Overall the service and atmosphere was meh, but the food and beer hit the spot in the moment. (But if you’re wondering, I wouldn’t go back).

On the way back to the hotel we stopped for a nightcap at Clyde’s of Gallery Place, a nice wood paneled, traditional steak and seafood restaurant that turned into a happening bar at night. We grabbed the only open spot available in the three bars inside and relaxed as we watched blue collar guys, cyclists, couples, and more make their way in, a true “all are welcome” place. There was a good vibe and I enjoyed my Starr Hill Northern Lights IPA, a balanced beer I could easily have more of.

The next night proved to be the highlight of the trip for me. The ChurchKey is a new bar (open since fall ’09) that takes their beer very seriously. Situated above their Birch & Barley restaurant, the upstairs bar claims to serve 555 beers, and I didn’t see any Bud Light in sight. They feature more than 50 beers on tap and offer a 4-ounce taster of anything. Additionally, they have their cold room sectioned off into three separate storage areas so they can keep beer at one of three optimal temperatures (42, 48 and 54 degrees).

During my two different stops there in one night I powered through tasters like Great Lakes Edmond Fitzgerald, BrewDog Devine Rebel 2010 (w/ Mikkeller), Great Divide Espresso Oak-Aged Yeti and more. The decor and crowd were welcoming and service was spot on. You know you’re in a good place when the waiter sits down to give you a list of 7-8 more bars to visit based on your location, hand-drawn map included (sadly, we did not make them all).

They rotate their beer menu out every two days, and I believe it. By the time we stopped back by three hours later, the first three beers we requested were gone.

From there we headed on a little crawl along 14th street, a great “in the city but neighborhood feel” area. We hit up Cafe Saint Ex next where a hipster bartender served a refreshing Bell’s Oberon pale wheat, perfect after out short hike there. The Saint Ex offered a small, but quality tap and bottle selection and appeared to draw people in for their house made concoctions from the bar.

Unfortunately we hit a hitch in our plan when we discovered the next stop, the Saloon, was closed on Sundays. I was sad to have missed out on this place after hearing about the grizzled bartender and house “rules”, such as you will be refused food service until you order a drink and that they will kick you out if they feel you are getting too loud.

We were back on track with a stop at the Bar Pilar, a somewhat noisy but overall inviting galley bar with a solid draft and bottle selection. Here is where I split a Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout with a coworker. Bad idea. It deserved a full pint. Overall 14th street was a great area to hit up, and with beer tasters, walking between bars, and stops for food along the way, we never even really felt a buzz.

On our last night there, work receptions precluded us from going to much, but we did get to stop in at RFD near Chinatown on the way back from dinner to enjoy a pint of Two Hearted Ale and some of the Flying Dog Barrel Aged Gonzo Porter (which took some warming up to really enjoy). I also had a taste of the Dogfish Head Immort Ale they had on tap. Not bad, but not really what I was looking for while I sat on the patio on a muggy evening. The place itself was large and felt like it could fit in on 6th street, but they did give a lot of thought to their draft and bottle selection.

All in all, D.C. was great and I enjoyed more of the city that I expected during my time there (but don’t worry boss, I didn’t miss a single session). The people were friendly, the public transportation easy and the craft beer abundant. And for any runners out there, morning jaunts around town were a nice way to see the city in action. I feel I just scratched the surface so I’m looking forward to heading back to that area again, but hopefully next time just for pleasure.

If you have a different take on any of the places I visited or stops of your own to add, make sure to leave a comment below!