15 of the Best New England Breweries to Visit This Year
Some of the best beer in the world, as rated by professionals, consumers, and of course, us, are located in New England.
Written by CraftJack | Updated | 9 min read
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There are over 60+ breweries in the Land of Steady Habits. If you check out the CT Beer Trail Map, you will notice a pretty good dispersal pattern throughout the state. It should come as no surprise that Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven have the most breweries.
Unlike their sister location near the University of Hartford, Thomas Hooker's Colt taproom has an unparalleled view of the city of Hartford. It's a great place to grab a pretzel (pretzel bites, technically) and a cold beer after work. The inside of the taproom is every part as casual as the relaxed outdoor patio. The craft beer list is deep and really should have something you're interested in. If not, there's always wine on tap (true story).
You can leave Spacecat with a 32oz crowler, or, stick around for the chill ambiance and a few cold pops. Newly opened in October of 2021, Spacecat Brewing is Norwalk's latest craft beer haunt. And let us just say, they have quite the brewery logo.
Know that if you do choose to hang out at the brewery, you have a choice between 6 different drafts and food via food truck. The Sunswept Blonde, with "notes of sweet honey and bright lemon" sounds like a treat.
How could leave Beer'd off this list?
Beer'd Brewing operates out of Groton and Stonington (both Connecticut). They too have an incredible brewery logo, quite possibly the best in the craft beer game. If you're visiting the Stonington location, you're going to want hang out in The Beer'd Garden.
Beer Lover's New England: Best Breweries, Brewpubs & Beer Bars
By Norman Miller - A must read for New Englanders looking to broaden their knowledge of the local craft beer scene. A great gift for a craft beer lover.Buy Now
Allagash has been brewing beer in Portland Maine for over 25+ years. They were (are) known for being the first modern Belgian-style brewery in the United States. This checks out as brewer/founder Rob Tod was trained in Belgium.
The brewery itself is a work of art. The word that best comes to mind is welcoming. With plenty of indoor and outdoor space to settle down in, you could stay for a minute and a beer, or relax for a few cold bevvies and call it an afternoon.
PS - Portland is a really awesome craft beer city. Further, you should check out the Annual Portland Brew Festival if you want to get the full experience.
Lots of coastal port towns sling cold beers on the regular. And in modern times, more and more are offering craft beer options that have been brewed on-site. FJ's has been doing this for nearly 30 years in Kennebunkport's Dock Square.
A few interesting things about Federal Jack's are that they were pouring nitro beers as early as 2003 (to our knowledge and experience), they have a pool table around back, and the view of the harbor is excellent from the 2nd floor deck. On the downside, the parking is atrocious, so be prepared to tip the valet well.
And, how many breweries in the country offer you the chance, albeit a very small one, to witness a former President or two cruise through the harbor? Not many.
Not every brewery in Maine has 2-3 decades worth of brewing experience, even if it feels like it's true. Such is the case with Steam Mill Brewing in Bethel. A short ride to Sunday River and an even shorter ride to the Bethel Inn Resort & Country Club, Steam Mill opened in 2018 as a pair of friends decided to take their hobby from their home kitchen to commercial taproom. You could (and should) take your good buddy to Steam Mill Brewing to soothe the bumps and bruises after he tries tackling White Heat on his vintage Rossignol 9X GS skis.
Beers we'd suggest include:
- Alder River Red
- Intervale Ale
- Whitecap Blueberry
The Bay State is home to more than 200+ brewpubs, microbreweries, and taprooms. From garage nanobrewers such as Malt Water Brewing in Weston to ever-expanding Tree House Brewing, Massachusetts produces some high quality craft beverages. Massachusetts craft beer begins with the city of Boston and fans out from there.
And for good reason, the Greater Boston area has 30+ breweries, including Night Shift (Everett), Harpoon (Seaport), and of course, Sam Adams (Jamaica Plain). However, drive a mile or two out of Beantown (if you can find your way) and you will discover many, many other breweries worth visiting, breweries like the next one we're going to mention.
Tree House Brewing gets most everything right. Known for all variety of IPA, Tree House brews so many quality beers that it's almost too hard to pick a pint when you finally arrive at the beertending station. When we say finally, we mean finally. Tree House is so amazingly popular that people wait for hours in line just to leave with a case of beer. This has caused them to develop a wayfinding system like your college or a ski mountain. Do not mess this up, lest your dreams of leaving with a case of Julius be replaced with one plastic cup of it.
The Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company was the first of its kind, an "all Imperial brewing company", in the United States. All of their beers hit harder than Bonham on Moby Dick. If it wasn't for their Crush Groove lineup (technically a different "brewery"), this Worcester brewery would be a one-and-done stop.
What they don't do is sacrifice taste. At all. In case you couldn't tell, we're big, big fans of the entire Greater Good beer lineup, everything from Good Night Moon to Greylock.
The Northampton Brewery has been in operation for nearly 35 years, preceding the craft beer explosion by over two decades. With a bevy of options, both food and beer, it's kind of hard to know where to start ... so let us give you a hint: a Green Mountain Burger and a Group Hug IPA.
Embrace the ambiance of the "Paradise City", a nickname coined by 19th century singer, Jenny Lind, and get yourself a table on the roofdeck. If you're looking to make it a two-fer, start by grabbing a beer at Progression Brewing around the corner on Pearl Street before hopping over to the Noho Brewery for dinner.
To a lot of New Englanders, a weekend in New Hampshire is a weekend full of campfires, outdoor lake activity, and cold beers. This applies to the state's citizens as well.
A relative newcomer to the NH craft beer scene, Twin Barns just recently celebrated their second anniversary in the Summer of 2021. The highlight of Twin Barns is the outdoor space, which is more of a beer field than garden if we think about it. There are 4 bag toss sets, each emblazoned with the artwork of one of their core beers on the board, a large Connect Four, and other games to play. Totally the type of place where a Bachelor or Bachelorette party can get a day started. One of the better Lakes Region breweries going.
Tuckerman's outdoor beer garden cares not for freezing temperatures and snowfall when slinging beers, and you shouldn't either. That and the fact that it is a short drive from Attitash, Black Mountain and Cranmore, makes Tuckerman Brewing one of the best Apres-ski craft beer venues in New England. Ok fine, we can include King Pine Ski Area as well.
Anyway, TBC is one of the best North Conway breweries for a variety of reasons. The food is approachable, the beers are no-nonsense, and did we mention an array of live bands that hit the stage daily on the weekends?
Odd Fellows Brewing is one of the handful of small brewpubs and taprooms in Nashua. Action-packed with excellent pub grub, Odd Fellows is a strong choice beers & apps in Southern New Hampshire. They pre-package their tasting flights which helps the uninitiated pick a theme without bothering a server. Plus, there's a wide range in their abv, running from Session to Imperial IPA.
A couple of miles North of Thames is Newport Craft Brewing & Distilling. They offer tours, pours, and ... mores?
Ok, bad joke, but, you can take a road trip to Newport for a pint of Rhode Trip and we think that's a better play on words (as well as beer). Newport Craft possesses a tasting room and an outdoor pavilion for your beer-drinking pleasure.
This is a must stop for any Newport Day Trip or long weekend.
Rogue on the Road, a food truck from Providence's Rogue Island restaurant, was serving upscale food truck eats on the day we arrived. So forget their beer, Ravenous had some of the very best pretzels we've had at a brewery yet. The honey mustard and maple butter dipping sauces were to die for.
Ok, let's not forget why we showed. Ravenous had an extensive variety of craft brews to choose from and we ordered two flights worth with none repeating. Bienvenu was an enjoyable red, Bad Bad Leroy Brown was tasty, and Yo Mama made us laugh.
The space at Ravenous was deceptively plentiful, with seats to be found across several rooms and an outdoor beer garden. Parents and pet owners, Ravenous allows both within limits. Children are not allowed in the taproom after 6pm and dogs are only allowed in the outdoor patio.
A veteran-owned brewery in the middle of Rhode Island, Whalers brews a handful of limited beers to complement their core flagship offerings: Rise & Drift. While we've enjoyed a Rise or two in our day, we're actually quite interested by Drift, a Cucumber Lime seltzer. We know, we know, a hard seltzer ... but their execution on Rise is solid and anything Cucumber Lime intrigues us.
If you're going to visit the taproom, know that they encourage you to bring your own food. The local takeout scene includes Flatts, Gansett Wraps, Tilly's Cheesesteaks, and more.
Craft beer was tailor-made for Vermont, a state that focuses on art and artisanal products. With brewers nestled in enclaves, you can find a tasty pour in any regional pocket, including Central Vermont, the Northern Kingdom, and the ski towns of the South.
Hill Farmstead is widely considered one of the best brewers in the world, if not the best. So, while bold, it would be a travesty to not include them here. Hill brews range from the singular to the serial, with their Civil Disobedience series having over 30+ versions. They are the embodiment of the brewing dream, running a world-class beer production line out of their Northern Kingdom farm. Much like Tree House, people travel from around the nation (and further) for the experience.
Interesting fact, the only place you can get Hill Farmstead beer outside of Vermont is at the Armsby Abbey in Worcester, MA - a fact that makes complete sense since the Armsby Abbey is one of the best craft beer bars in the state.
You and your good buddys were cruising by Stowe the other dayyyy ...
Ten Bends is a short ride from one of the best ski towns in New England. Word to the wise, there's a reason that Ten Bends has a beer named "Rotary Chaos" ... beware the rotary on the road in from Stowe.
Our tasting flight consisted of said Ten Bends Beer:
- 5th Bend
- Northern Heights
- Rotary Chaos
Plus, it's a short saunter over to Lost Nation and Rock Art if you're looking to hop around.
The Alchemist brews one of the most sought after beers in the world, Heady Topper. People drive from all around the United States just to get a taste of this IPA, it's that popular. So that's why you should visit The Alchemist.
However, it's not the only reason why. The Alchemist has plenty of other really great beers, beers such as Focal Banger and Rapture. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, The Alchemist is fantastically committed to sustainability - more so than many other breweries. Lastly, they were running their beer game at the Vermont Brewer's Festival long before we (and you) ever heard of them. If you've never been, the VT Brewfest is a must attend beer festival in Burlington, VT that is excellently located on the shores of Lake Champlain.
One last brewery we want to discuss is Connecticut's Athletic Brewing Company. The reason we want to mention them is that they are a non-alcoholic brewing company. We think that deserves proper discussion.
We think it's fairly self-explanatory why we decided to include NEBCO on our list, don't you?
New England Brewing Company throws Halloween Bashes, hosts video game events, live music and other fun events. To put it succinctly, this Woodbridge brewery in hopping.