10 Boutique Breweries to Visit This Summer

Destinations Travel Magazine, July 1st, 2012

Read Heide's brewery story here


They come with hundreds of different flavors, tasting of hops and fruit and grains of the earth, and they come with names like Horny Toad, Sisters of the Moon, Diabolical and Firefly. No longer do Americans have to choose beer only made by huge commercial breweries. The craft brew movement has exploded throughout the country and has picked up steam throughout the ’90s. In the last decade, that movement has matured, coming to tasty fruition, as independent craft breweries can be found in every state in the U.S.
Nowhere else can ale lovers discover variety of beers to match the quality as in the small, passionate brewpubs. On your travels this summer, explore the local beers, and to help you get started, here’s just a sample of the boutique breweries you can try this summer.

  1. Mother Earth Brewery - Kinston, N.C. Mother Earth Brewery in Kinston, N.C. is as green a brewery as one can find, and the brewery’s bar area offers selections in a building that’s not only energy-efficient, but hip and modern as well. Mother Earth Brewery, famous for its Sisters of the Moon IPA and Weeping Willow Wit Belgian-Style Wit Beer, was born in 2008 by Stephen Hill and Trent Mooring, two guys from the little North Carolina town of Kinston.

The Mother Earth Brewery Tap Room opens Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings starting at 4 p.m., and from 1 to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, when tours of the brewery are often given. The Brewery offers a selection of beers, including Summer Haze German Style Hefeweizen, Second Wind Pale Ale, the crisp and tangy Endless River Kolsch, the Dark Cloud Munich Dunkel, the Tripel Overhead Belgian Style Tripel, as well as Sisters of the Moon and Weeping Willow Wit.

“Our ‘must-try’ beer of the summer would be Weeping Willow Wit,” said Trent Mooring. “This beer style is over 400 years old, and continues to enjoy overwhelming popularity. Offering low hop bitterness, it is easy to enjoy. It pours very hazy, with a light gold color. We say it's like summertime in a glass. Bitter orange peel and fresh coriander add zest and depth.” Visit www.motherearthbrewing.com

  1. Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales — Dexter, Michigan
    Want to taste one of the best Belgian-style beers in the country? Try Jolly Pumpkin in Dexter, Michigan. The brewery and its signature Belgian ale, Oro de Calabaza, is the creation of Ron Jeffries, who owns Jolly Pumpkin, and the little northern brewery is winning awards and honors left and right. Jeffries knows his business, having working in brew pubs for close to a decade before opening his own. Jolly Pumpkin offers the strong golden ale Oro de Calabaza, the La Roja amber ale, the Calabaza Blanca Belgian Biere Blanche, the Bam Bière farmhouse ale and several seasonal releases.

“Our must-try is the Diabolical-IPA, our flagship brew,” said Lori Jackson of Jolly Pumpkin. “The beer's true wickedness is revealed in the Smooth Pale, Crystal 30 and wheat malts that surreptitiously broaden the beer's appeal to more than just hopheads.”

Sample all of Jolly Pumpkin’s beers and enjoy the wild mushroom pizza at Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant, Brewery, Distillery at 13512 Peninsula Dr. in Traverse City, Mich.

  1. Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey - San Diego, Calif The tag line of this California brewery says it all — Inspired beer for Sinners and Saints alike. Year-round beer offerings are made in the old tradition of monastic and artistic Belgian brewing styles.

Founded by Tomme Arthur, Jim Comstock, Gina Marsaglia and Vince Marsaglia, the brewery has been producing award-winning ales and Belgian-style beers since 2006. They’ve developed a following of fans for their year-round offerings of Avant Garde, Lost and Found, Red Barn, Devotion and Judgement Day. However, the brewery also produces seasonal and rare releases throughout the year. The special offerings are aged for up to 18 months in barrels soaked in bourbon and brandy, and the attention to detail is paying off for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. Since opening, the brewery h as won nearly 100 medals in competitions.

But, to truly taste the secrets of the brewery, stop in for a visit.

“While The Lost Abbey produces over 36 different beers every year, many of those are limited editions that never make it beyond the tasting room's taps,” said Sage Osterfeld, media & communications liaison for Port Brewing and The Lost Abbey. “When you visit, make sure to look for red Lost Abbey Cross handles on the tap wall. Those mark the ‘secret’ barrel-aged and vintage wonders you can only get in the tasting room.”

  1. Jackie O’s — Athens, Ohio This free spirited little brewpub crafts dozens of different beers throughout the year and is located on the Ohio University campus in Athens, Ohio. Brewmaster Brad Clark takes inspiration from the local farming community when crafting such beers as the light Firefly Amber, the big hoppy Mystic Mama IPA or the raspberry-spiced Razz Wheat.

In order to use local ingredients, the Jackie O's brewery started a small farm outside of Athens, and both the kitchen and the brewhouse use the different types of herbs, fruits and vegetables from the Jackie O's farm.

“A popular to beer to try this summer is the ‘Funky Gold Verbena,’” said Clark. “This delightful beer starts off as a light-bodied golden ale that is spiced with lemon verbena and lemon balm from our propriety farm.” Sample all the Jackie O’s beers at the Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, located at 24 W. Union St., in Athens or visit www.jackieos.com.

  1. COOP Ale Works — Oklahoma City This Oklahoma brewery was founded in 2008 and already has a rabid following throughout the state, due in part to such ales as DNR, a Belgian-style ale boasting of 10 percent ABV. Created by co-founders JD Merryweather and Daniel Mercer, the brewery creates year-round favorites and seasonal offerings as well.

The Native Amber, a blend of hops and malt with caramel notes, and the Horny Toad Cerveza with its Noble hop bitterness and pilsner malt body, are offered in Oklahoma package stores, as is the dangerous and delicious DNR, but pubs and bars throughout the state carry COOP’s other favorites, like the grapefruity, hoppy F5, an IPA lover’s dream, and the chocolaty robust Gran Sport Porter. COOP Ale Works also prides itself on its sustainability by being 100 percent wind powered, reducing cleaning chemical loads, using ultra high-efficiency water tanks and participating in a spent grain reuse program. The upstart brewery is also tied in tight with the local community, hosting events, sponsoring fundraisers and exposing the public to good craft brew.

“Upon discovering a vacancy of local offerings, we decided to embrace Oklahoma City’s need for a top-shelf craft brewery,” said Merryweather. “The response has been overwhelming, and we look forward to growing with Oklahoma City as it grows. People can expect full-flavored beer with no punches pulled.” Visit www.coopaleworks.com.

  1. Cigar City — Tampa, Fla. Cigar City Brewing of Tampa, Fla., believes that each beer they brew should reflect the environment in which its made, giving each offering a sense of place. Some of the beer is brewed with guava, some are aged on cigar box cedar and others use hops that hint at the tropical fruits that Florida offers.

Tampa has a reputation as the world's largest cigar producer and is home to a diverse mix of cultures, and the brewers at Cigar City Brewing make sure each beer reflects the individuality that makes up the city. The Jai Alai Pale Ale offers a smooth copper color full of the citrus and tropical fruit hints of the area. Other regular offerings include the chocolaty Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale, the pleasantly bitter Tocobaga Red Ale, the Jose Marti American Porter and the fruity and spicy Guava Grove Farmhouse Ale.

Cigar City Brewing also offers a full line of seasonal offerings a well. When in the area, pop by the Tasting Room at Cigar City Brewing, 3924 West Spruce Street, Ste. A. Visit www. Cigarcitybrewing.com

  1. Nebraska Brewing Company — Papillion, Neb. Located in Papillion’s Shadow Lake Town Centre, the Nebraska Brewing Company is both a dining establishment and a brewing company of fresh ales. Its popularity is growing, and in 2011 Nebraska Brewing Company was awarded a Gold Medal for the Reserve Series beer Melange a Trois in the Wood and Barrel Aged Strong Beer category, beating out 118 entries. They also earned Bronze Medal for the German Hefeweizen beer, named EOS, in the South German-Style Hefeweizen category. Nebraska Brewing Co.’s other offerings include a Fat Head Barley Wine aged in Stranahan’s Whiskey barrels; the Chardonnay French Oak Hop God, a Belgian-style Tripel with grapefruit notes; and the Brunette Nut Brown Ale, an English-style Brown Ale, among many others.

“Nebraska Brewing Company, we pride ourselves on being an innovator of quality craft beers and artisanal barrel aged products. As a result, Nebraska Brewing Company has garnered a World Beer Cup award and 3 Great American Beer Festival Awards, among many other accolades, over the last two years,” said Kim Kavulak, “The Chick that Makes S#*t Happen” at Nebraska Brewing. “ Distribution covers an 11 state area from California to New York (and places in between). A top notch menu makes Nebraska Brewing Company a must on your list of breweries to visit.”

  1. Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, Maine Allagash Brewing Company was founded by Rob Tod in 1995 as a one-man operation in Portland, Maine. In the U.S., British and German beers were popular, but at the time, Belgian-style beers were few and far between. Tod aimed to change that, and after designing a small 15-barrel brewhouse, he sold his first batch of beer in 1995.

Today, Allagash Brewing boasts of six year-round beers and numerous off-keg and seasonal releases. The first style brewed by Allagash — the Allagash White- is a Belgian wheat beer with the taste of coriander and orange peel. The Allagash Tripel is a strong golden ale that hints at honey and banana while the Allagash Four is fermented four times with four malts, four sugars, four hop varieties and four different yeast strains.

For something completely unique, try the Curieux, which comes from aging the Tripel in Jim Beam bourbon barrels for 8 weeks and then blended back with a fresh batch of Tripel.

“The first beer brewed was Allagash White, a spiced wheat beer and now the company flagship. Allagash White has been internationally recognized as one of the finest examples of the style, winning it’s first Gold Medal in 1998 at the World Beer Cup in Rio de Janeiro and the latest at the 2012 World Beer Cup in San Diego,” said Dee Dee Germain of Allagash.

“ For the last 17 years, Allagash has continually pushed the boundaries of beer through constant experimentation and was one of the first to barrel age beers, in this country.”

  1. Lazy Magnolia, Kiln, MS As Mississippi’s first brewery, Lazy Magnolia was founded in September 2003. Since then, their famous brews, including the Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale and the Indian Summer Wheat Ale can be found in Louisiana, Florida, Texas, Georgia and Tennessee. Created by Mark and Leslie Henderson, the brewery started when Leslie bought Mark a homebrew kit one Christmas just because she couldn’t think what else to give him. From there, the Lazy Magnolia brewery released its first batch of beer in January 2005 and kegs hit the market in March 2005.

The brewery offers six beers — the Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale, the Indian Summer Wheat Ale, Southern Gold Golden Honey Ale, the Deep South Pale Ale, Jefferson Stout Sweet Potato Cream Stout and the Southern Hops’pitality India Pale Ale. “Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale is the first beer in the world, to our knowledge, made with whole roasted pecans. Southern Pecan won a Bronze Medal in the 2006 World Beer Cup in the Specialty Beer category,” said Joshua Poole of Lazy Magnolia Brewery. “Mark Henderson) is the crazy, creative force behind Lazy Magnolia. He comes up with ideas that often seem to have no chance of succeeding. One of those ideas was to make a beer with pecans. Southern Pecan has been a big hit ever since. “

For more information, visit www.lazymagnolia.com