With many pleasure boaters planning trips around interests like top-flight golf courses, gourmet restaurants and dazzling fall foliage, is it so far fetched that, for some, craft brews and breweries can be a destination unto themselves? Not in our book. Here are 11 sudstastic towns to add to your personal “booze cruise” itinerary. Just remember to enjoy responsibly.
Already known for its classic New England water-town feel and fresh-as it-gets seafood, Portland is making a case as a “must” for traveling libationists. Its D.L. Geary Brewing was founded in 1983, when there were only a handful of microbreweries in the U.S. Since that time, 13 startups have joined the local ranks. Take a tour and quaff a pint at Allagash Brewing Company, which favors a Belgian style, or venture into Portland’s historic Old Port and visit Sebago Brewing Co. or Shipyard Brewing. Rising Tide Brewing Company in the East Bayside neighborhood produces Daymark American Pale Ale, recently named one of the “Great Beers You’ve Never Heard Of ” by Men’s Journal. Dock at DiMillos Old Port Marina.
New York, New York
With so much else to see and do here, it would be easy to dismiss New York as a humdrum craft beer destination. That would be a mistake. The Big Apple is home to some of the best beer bars — drop in at the Blind Tiger or Rattle N Hum for amazing pours from around the world — and also has some champion breweries. Brooklyn Brewery didn’t just capitalize on a name; it’s brewed right in the borough, so you can visit for a tour and a taste. Sixpoint Brewery is nearby, canning four core beers in addition to a series of super-rare brews that are made one time only. Ale addicts flock to Bronx Brewery’s backyard on warm days to enjoy four year-round and four seasonal beers. Dock at MarineMax at Chelsea Piers, North Cove Marina at Brookfield Place or in Jersey City at Liberty Landing Marina.
The second largest seaport in the Mid-Atlantic, and at one time a major manufacturing center, Baltimore has always been a hardworking town. Many of the microbreweries here reflect that history and character in their names — Union Craft Brewing, Heavy Seas Brewery, Public Works Ale — and manifest the idea that first you work hard, then play hard. Full Tilt Brewing has the mouth-watering Berger Cookie Chocolate Stout and Patterson Pumpkin. (It’s website asks: “Why do something half-assed when you can go Full Tilt?”) Stillwater Artisanal seems to agree, offering bold creations like Rauchstar Scandinavian Smoked Ale, Classique Postmodern Beer and Gose Gone Wild Sour Wheat Ale. Dock at Crescent Marina at Fells Point, Henderson’s Wharf Marina, Harbor East Marina or at any of the Baltimore Marine Centers.
Ideally positioned at the confluence of the St. Johns River, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean,
with 22 miles of white-sand beaches, Jacksonville is already a boater’s dream come true. So, what if I told you there was also this thing called the Jax Ale Trail? Bingo! Pick up your “brewery passport” at any of the participating locations and wineither a koozie or a t-shirt by getting stamps at four or all eight of the designated stops. Breweries include Aardwolf Brewing Company, Bold City Brewery, Engine 15 Brewing Co., Green Room Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, Pinglehead Brewing Company, Veterans United Craft Brewery and Zeta Brewing Company. Visit the local Budweiser Brewery, one of only five in the country, for extra credit. Dock at Fort George Island Marina, or River City Brewing.
Beer Advocate magazine lists a dozen breweries in the Tampa area, adding to an array of enviable local attractions such as world-class beaches, seafood, sunshine and citrus. Cigar City Brewing is probably the most well known in town, with five Great American Beer Festival medals to its name. It also offers fresh rolled cigars for a great one-two punch. Tampa Bay Brewing Company has an open-air patio and house beers that include Red Eye Amber Ale, a Best Florida Beer Championships Gold Medal Winner in 2015. Other popular suds purveyors include Dunedin Brewery, the oldest microbrewery in Florida, and Three Palms Brewing, which brews 82 beers throughout the year. Dock at Tampa Harbour or Tampa Marriott Waterside Resort &Marina.
New Orleans, Louisiana
The Big Easy is a city bursting at the seams with heat and flavor, and a cold brew here goes down effortlessly, almost magically. The largest, and arguably best, homegrown label is Abita. Abita Brew Pub lets you sample draught versions of all its offerings — Amber, Turbodog, Jockamo IPA, Purple Haze and more — as well as select seasonal batches. Other breweries are up and coming after the town’s long tradition of beer brewing almost died out after Prohibition. Covington Brewhouse specializes in Bavarian styles. NOLA Brewing Company offers a selection of lagers and ales. Crescent City Brewhouse is the sole French Quarter microbrewery. Dock at Orleans Marina or Seabrook Harbor & Marine.
San Diego, California
If you like your India Pale Ale (IPA), and we do, then this Southern California hop spot is for you. San Diego boasts more than 50 breweries, and has been a haven for grog guzzlers since Prohibition, thanks to its proximity to Tijuana, Mexico, where booze was legal. These days, it has its own style of beer — the San Diego Pale Ale; a local twist on the IPA — as well as some great Belgians. You can get your drink on at nautical-sounding places like 32 North Brewing Co., Ballast Point Brewing, Green Flash Brewing and Oceanside Ale Works. Brewery Tours of San Diego offers daily excursions showcasing some of the award-winning beers produced locally. Dock at Cabrillo Isle Marina or Kona Kai Marina.
The multitude of breweries dotting the map in the Puget Sound area is staggering — even before you start imbibing. So why not leave the planning and transportation to the knowledgeable guides of Road Dog’s Seattle Brewery Tour? Book one or more seats on a three-hour “join-in” and visit breweries in downtown Seattle, as well as neighboring communities, such as Ballard, Fremont, SODO and West Seattle. Each tour stops at three locations, including places like Bad Jimmy’s Brewing Company, aptly named because it only brews “intense ales;” nothing less than 6% alcohol by volume, Georgetown Brewing Company, the second most productive in the state, and Hales Ales Brewery, one of the true granddaddies of craft beer. Dock at Bell Harbor Marina or Shilshole Bay Marina.
Move over bourbon, there’s a new favorite drink in town. Not only does this river city have 10 breweries — 12 if you count two more right across the Ohio in Jeffersonville, Indiana — it will be adding four more in 2015, according to the devotee website LouisvilleBeer.com. Falls City Beer has been a Louisville tradition since 1905, when the brewery first opened. After closing its doors in 1978, the brand was revived in 2010 with a craft-brewed English Pale Ale. Cumberland Brews has a beer list that includes Red Ale, Cream Ale, Nitro Porter, Meade and Pale Ale, plus rotating small-batch beers. New Albanian Brewing Company is noteworthy for its innovative brews as well as its distinct names and label artwork such as, Bonfire of the Valkyries Smoked Black Lager. Dock at RiverPark Place Marina.
As the song goes, “Cleveland rocks!” And we think that nothing goes better with rock than a nice cold local brew. Nationally respected Great Lakes Brewing produces close to 100 beers, from stout to porter, weizen to bitter, bock to rye, and pilsner to ale. Nano Brew Cleveland and Market Garden Brewery are also highlights, with Fat Head’s Brewery serving up its award-winning Head Hunter Indian Pale Ale alongside munchies, sandwiches and pizza. Cleveland Brew Bus will pick you up and drop you off after tastings at three or four stops, all the while filling your head with fun facts about craft beer styles, Cleveland brewing history and background on the breweries you visit. Dock at Olde River Yacht Club.
Microbreweries in this metropolis used to be hard to come by, but the success of the labels Mill Street and Steam Whistle has led to a thriving craft beer culture. Fans of diverse flavors flock to Great Lakes Brewery, the oldest independent brewer in town. It produces five year-round lagers and ales, plus more than a dozen limited release beers, from Saison Dupump to Long Dong Pilsner. Black Oak Brewing Co. offers four perennial brews — Pale Ale, Nut Brown Ale and Ten Bitter Years Imperial IPA — all of which have won Canadian Brewing Awards. Indie Ale House in The Junction neighborhood serves hard-to-find ales like Belgian Sour and Double IPA, for the true “beeroisseur.” Dock at Island Yacht Club or Toronto Island Marina.