The Midwest has some great breweries, some of them are worth a little road trip to go visit. In fact, I think some of these could be the center piece of a summer road trip. All of these breweries are within 4 hours (or so) driving from Des Moines.
1.New Glarus Brewery, New Glarus Wisconsin – This is one of my all-time favorites. New Glarus is a Swiss settlement 45 minutes south of Madison in Green County Wisconsin. The town is nestled in the rolling hills, and is a great to explore in itself. The brewery itself is high on a hill just outside of town and has a really great beer garden. You can only get New Glarus beer in Wisconsin, which creates a lot of road trips from neighboring states to get the stuff (although you can get it just over the border if needed). My favorite is Moon Man, an American Pale Ale. Here is a link.
2.Toppling Goliath, Decorah Iowa – Topping Goliath is a tiny brewery in Decorah. My wife and I discovered it years ago before it hit big. The brewery is located right in town by the river, which is definitely worth looking around as well. My favorite is the Psuedo Sue, also their Rover Truck Stout is great as well. Here is a link. We also did a top ten reasons to go to Decorah.
3.Surly Brewing, Minneapolis – This place is huge, and is very popular in the Twin cities. They are known for their large cans of beer, and unique names for their beers including; Hell Lager, Overrated, and Dumpster fire. One of the great things about the location is there are games to play outside, and bands most of the time. This place has a fun social atmosphere, and is always busy. Click here for their website.
4. Peace Tree Brewing, Knoxville – Well, well, well, Peacetree is putting a tasting room in the East Village of Des Moines thats great news for us! However, Peacetree in Knoxville is still worth going to. The brewery is a nicely restored building in downtown, and has a bar and seating area. My favorite Peacetree Beer is the blonde fatale. With its 8.5 abv it can really sneak up on you. Here is a link to their website.
5.BackPocket Brewing, Iowa City – Backpocket has a nice taproom and some great beers. My favorite is the wooden nickel, which is a scottish ale. I think one of the best ideas Backpocket has come up with the to show movies on Thursdays in the beer garden. Some of the 2015 movies were Elf, Goonies, and Despicable me. Here is a link for more information.
6.Upstream Brewing, Omaha – There are two locations in Omaha for Upstream, one in the old market, and one in the outskirts of town. I really like the old market location, they have patio seating on top of the building and you can people watch as you eat. The beer here is pretty good as well. My favorite is the Denny’s Irish shout, but this is a seasonal brew. Click here for their website.
7.Lion Bridge brewing, Cedar Rapids – Lions Bridge has been producing great beer since 2014 in the Czech village area of Cedar Rapids. They like to try many different styles including French Saisons. German Kolschs, and Irish Stouts. I think one of the most interesting things about Lion Bridge is that they embrace history, and individualism. The way that they embrace history is by having guest speakers which is an interesting concept. Also, the have a make your own stein night where you can (you guessed it) make your own stein. If you click on the special events icon on their website they have several other special events coming up this summer. Click here for more information.
8.Millstream Brewing, Amanas – The Amanas are a great place to wander around on foot and usually you will make your way to Millstream. There are seven villages in the Amanas, and Millstream is located in the biggest, Amana. Finding it is easy it is on the east end of town across from the woolen mill. Millstream is Iowas oldest brewery and also has some great root beer for the kids. For more information here is a link to their website.
9.West O Brewing, West Okaboji – One of my favorite beers is the Coco Stout a smooth, rich, dark stout. It recently won The Des Moines Registers Bracket of Iowa Beers. Link here With the best beer in the state I don’t think this place needs much more selling. The brewery is just another reason to visit the Iowa Great Lakes region, there are plenty of other things to do there. Here is a link to West O’s website.
10. Kansas City Bier Company, Kansas City – Sometimes I like the smaller places a little more. The last time we went to Kansas City we tried this place out, and we really liked it. Everything here is German, all the biers, the spelling of “bier”, and the music. You get the picture. I think one thing that really defines this place is the live polka music, (which is hard to find now a days) and the fresh, German style “bier”. For more information click here.
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