Brewery road trip might sound like an oxymoron because of the whole "drinking and driving" thing, but listen, there are breweries that are worth driving great distances to reach. Some have mind-blowing tours; others produce beer so rare you can only find it at the mother ship; still others are in a particularly beautiful part of the world. We found five, each offering a singular experience worthy of an epic road trip. Just bring a DD, er, friend.
Rogue Ales and Farms, Newport, Oregon
Rogue grows their own barley, hops, and just about everything else that might go into one of their beers at 3,800 Rogue Farms in Oregon's Tygh Valley. You can tour the hop yard and rye fields along with a handful of orchards, and see exactly how hops are grown and processed. And don't worry—there's a tasting room at the farm, as well as a bed and breakfast.
The Alchemist: Waterbury, Vermont
The Alchemist's double IPA, Heady Topper, just might be the greatest beer in the world (beer geeks on the internet seem to think it's in the running). Part of the allure is that it's so limited, essentially only available near Waterbury, Vermont, where they brew 180 barrels a week. This is the beer you travel across the country to drink. You can't take a tour right now (heavy traffic forced The Alchemist to look for more accommodating digs), but the brewery's website lists up-to-date locations where you can find Heady Topper around town.
Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens: Escondido, California
Stone can pretty much do no wrong when it comes to beer (if you've tried their Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard, you'll know what we mean) but you go to the Escondido brewpub for the beer garden. Actually, "beer garden" is a misnomer—picture an acre of boulder gardens, koi ponds, fruit trees and sprawling grass. It's like a Zen paradise with beer. The $3 tour ain't bad either—you'll get to taste malted barley and raw hops before meandering through the working beer tanks.
Sierra Nevada Brewing, Mills River, N.C.
Dig deep into Sierra Nevada's brewing process at their new production brewery in Mills River, North Carolina, with the three-hour Beer Geek Tour ($30). It's like a crash course in brewing beer. You'll also get to sample beers straight from the tanks, and cap off the day with a visit to the 20-barrel pilot system filled with experemental brews—it's where things get weird.
Aspen Brewing Company, Aspen, Colorado
Yeah, the beer here is good (go for the easy-drinking This Season's Blonde) and sure, you can take a traditional tour of the brewery, but Aspen Brewing Company is on this list because of its location. It's in Aspen. Which means you'll have powder stashes galore during the winter, but also mountain biking on nearby Snowmass (try the ridgeline Snowmass Rim Trail) and one of the state's greatest road climbs up Independence Pass (or worst, if you bonk halfway up). We say pedal first, then do the brewery tour.
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