Consumer beer choices have been making headlines lately. Many beer drinkers are open to trying new brands right now, which makes it a great time to review some of the best breweries in the Midwest.
From Hays, Kansas, to the North Shore of Minnesota, the region is home to a wide variety of amazing beers and destination breweries. Here are nine Midwest brewing companies that are absolutely worth a visit!
Alluvial Brewing — Ames, IA
Set in a picturesque rural location just outside Ames, Alluvial Brewing is one of those Midwest breweries you’ll never forget visiting. The brewery is located on a 40-acre farm and boasts a high-ceiling taproom. They also have a spacious outdoor patio where you can enjoy a wide variety of craft brew offerings. You can tour the farm grounds where the Alluvial team grows many of the ingredients used to produce their beers.
If that’s not enough incentive, Alluvial also regularly hosts live music and trivia nights for its community of beer enthusiasts. The taps at the brewery frequently rotate with new and seasonal options, including Orange Lazarus, their highly-rated milkshake IPA.
Piney River Brewing Company — Bucyrus, MO
Piney River is one of the best breweries in the Midwest, and they’ve got the awards to back it up. Their brews regularly win trophies at the U.S. Open Beer Championship, including golds in 2022 in the Session IPA and Wine Barrel-Aged Beer categories. Piney River was also named the best brewery of 2022 by Rural Missouri magazine.
Located on a 160-acre farm, Piney River offers brewery tours and a Barn taproom located in a traditional-style farmhouse. It’s a lively spot for beer lovers to congregate; children are welcome as well and can enjoy homemade root beer. If you’re looking to stock up for your next float trip, Piney River’s designed a beer just for you — Float Trip Ale.
Toppling Goliath Brewing Company — Decorah, IA
Another award-winning Midwest brewer, Toppling Goliath is a family-owned operation that distributes to 30 different states. At their Decorah headquarters, the company offers 30-minute brewery tours and an on-site taproom featuring flights of samplers and a full food menu too. You can sit indoors or out, but either way, you’re practically guaranteed to taste something you enjoy.
The brewery has won enough awards for its beers that they’re not even possible to summarize succinctly. Since 2015, when Toppling Goliath was named the second-best brewery in the world by BeerAdvocate, they’ve been racking up recognition. In 2018, they were named Iowa’s best brewery by multiple outlets. Then in 2022, the brewery picked up two golds and a silver at the U.S. Open Beer Championship. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, try the Psuedo Sue, a balanced single-hop pale ale. We would suggest the King Sue (a double IPA), but it’s so popular it may be difficult to find.
Castle Danger Brewery — Two Harbors, MN
A one-of-a-kind brewery located in a one-of-a-kind place, Castle Danger Brewery embodies the best of Minnesota’s North Shore. Their taproom overlooks the sparkling clear waters of Lake Superior, and their beers are brewed with that very same water. If you’ve never been, you owe yourself a visit just to experience the rocky shores and white pine forests surrounding Two Harbors.
Let’s not forget about the beers! Castle Danger brews a wide variety of well-crafted offerings, from cream ales to IPAs to sours. They’ve also got distribution throughout Minnesota (and into North Dakota). So, even if you can’t make it to Two Harbors, you can still find their flavorful beers at restaurants, bars, and liquor stores. But make the trip – you won’t regret it!
Crow Peak Brewing Company — Spearfish, SD
The Black Hills area of South Dakota is home to several excellent brewery options, including Crow Peak Brewing Company. Founded in 2007 as a local five-barrel brewhouse, Crow Peak now produces enough beer to distribute throughout the state, as well as North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Minnesota.
Their sizable taproom hosts live music multiple times a week, and the lovely outdoor patio is inviting and dog-friendly. Crow Peak also teams up with a local BBQ joint to offer delicious eats on-site. If you’re looking for a special time to visit, try Chinook Days, when the whole town of Spearfish commemorates the record for the fastest temperature change ever recorded — a 49-degree swing from -4 to +45 F that took place in just two minutes! Every January, they mark the anniversary with a beer fest.
Defiance Brewing Company — Hays, KS
Started just over 10 years ago by two long-time brewmasters, Defiance Brewing Company is still a growing brand. In fact, they recently opened a new taproom in downtown Hays. Here, you can sample their highly-rated beers alongside a full menu of food.
The brewery itself, located on Highway 40, doesn’t serve food. However, you can take a tour of the operation while you sample brews aged in rum barrels. Defiance distributes across the state and in Kansas City, so keep an eye out for their unique beers if you’re in the area. Try their Sleep Walkin IPA if you’re looking for a drink on a sunny summer afternoon!
Nebraska Brewing Company — La Vista, Nebraska
Company founder Paul Kavulak turned a homebrewing hobby into what is now one of the Midwest’s best brewing companies. Nebraska Brewing Company in La Vista offers brewery tours and an intimate tap room filled with arcade games, pinball machines, and world-class beers.
Nebraska Brewing’s most famous offering, Cardinal Pale Ale, was chosen as Omaha’s Best Beer in 2014 by the Omaha World-Herald. Paul put nearly 15 years into perfecting the recipe, so it’s truly a labor of love. And it has paid off, as this tasty beer is now available from nationwide retailers. But a trip to the brewery is still worth it to sample their other offerings, including the Belgian-style Melange a Trois and their MOAB Imperial Stout.
Drekker Brewing Company — Fargo, North Dakota
No list of can’t-miss Midwest breweries would be complete without a mention of Drekker Brewing’s Brewhalla. A recently-opened addition to their main brewery, this Fargo attraction brands itself the “Good Times Factory“. It boasts a hotel, a wide variety of food stalls, and a beer hall under one roof. All of this fun is located in a restored old railroad facility just down the street from the original brewery. This is a great spot in its own right and hosts tours every first Saturday of the month.
None of these bells and whistles would mean much if Drekker wasn’t also producing some very tasty beers. Luckily, you can count on them for a wide variety of well-respected brews. Drekker has won multiple awards at the U.S. Open Beer Championship and at the Best of Craft Beer Awards for everything from light lagers to imperial stouts to IPAs. Drekker has distribution across the Midwest and beyond. So, even if you can’t make it to the brewery, you should be able to find their beers on a shelf near you.
New Glarus Brewing Company — New Glarus, Wisconsin
This independent brewer has developed quite an outsized reputation among beer enthusiasts, which is all the more amazing since it’s darn near impossible to get outside of Wisconsin. The Spotted Cow farmhouse ale is a regular on award lists and is the most popular beer in Wisconsin according to some metrics.
All of this means that a trip to visit the brewery in New Glarus should be on every beer enthusiast’s list. The family-owned facility sits on a hilltop on the outskirts of New Glarus, overlooking the village. They offer self-guided tours and an on-site taproom where you can enjoy the famous Spotted Cow, as well as other seasonal and year-round beers.
The Best Breweries in the Midwest
There’s nothing like visiting a brewery and getting a sense of everything that goes into producing your favorite beers. Not to mention the opportunity to taste a sampling of the different creations on tap. Now that you know some of the best breweries in the Midwest, it’s time to start planning a trip or two. Skal!
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