Favorite Hometown Brewery
The Hop Culture team is an eclectic bunch. Which breweries are their favorite?
Written by Hop Culture
During a recent editorial meeting, we started talking about our favorite breweries. As we went around the table, almost everyone said some version of, “A few blocks from my house, there’s this awesome place…” We realized that everyone showed a little bit of favoritism to their hometown. Which is absolutely fine. As a magazine dedicated to the greatest craft beer stories from across the nation, we attract a geographically diverse crew. One writer comes from Maine; another from Manhattan. Our Editor in Chief grew up in North Carolina, spent time in California, and now resides in Pittsburgh. Our Senior Editor lives in Boston. We’ve seen the best beer from all four corners of the country.
Alas, my hometown of Cape Elizabeth, ME, is void of craft breweries. (For what it’s worth, it’s also pretty short on bars and traffic lights. Pretty nice lighthouse, though.) Luckily, Portland is next door and no stranger to purveyors of great beer. Feet to the fire, I’d have to go with Bissell Brothers for my favorite local brewery, though Rising Tide and Foundation pull a close second. I like my beer hazy and hoppy, and Bissell Brother’s Substance, Swish, and Reciprocal are tough to beat. Plus, their taproom is amazing, compete with outdoor hockey rink. Because #maine. –Alex Weaver
As I walk away from the roar of Main Street in Littleton, New Hampshire, I hear the gurgling of the Ammonoosuc River and smell warm grains. Like an old friend, Schilling Beer Company beckons every time I visit my parents in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont (a 40 minute drive north from the brewery).The old wooden building is small and cozy, reminiscent of a different era. Low ceilings, slanted floors and enormous exposed wooden beams make any New Englander (or non-New Englander, for that matter) feel right at home. In this Northern haven, wood-fired pizza and exceedingly generous cheese boards pair with a variety of European-inspired beers, most of which are only available at the brewery itself. It’s possible to find Schilling on draft at other bars in the region, but walking into the funky old building is worth the trip alone. –Caroline Southern
New England is all about small, family-owned business, so I’ve always preferred independent shops to chains. My favorite brewery from my home in southern New Hampshire is no exception, a little place called Liars Bench Beer Company. Tucked away in the back of a warehouse building, it’s the perfect spot for a group hangout; play corn hole or foosball, or grab some snacks and relax in the hip, industrial atmosphere. Their beer is a bit eccentric and the menu changes regularly so you can almost always try something new. They offer everything from a Kölsch pilsner to a peach and lime saison and an apricot and pine IPA. –Sarah Filiault
York, Pennsylvania is nothing fancy. It’s full of people who get the job done. It’s factories and warehouses, railroads and truck stops, taverns and brick roads. It’s also a place with plenty of history, and tucked away in an old, reclaimed warehouse is the industrial, “get-the-job-done” brewery with a surprising lineup of beers. It’s a spot my Dad swore by for years, and a spot that I finally got to try when I turned 21. I have to say — it’s impressive. Try to visit during the holidays when they begin pouring the Pub Santa. That’s my favorite. –Evan Malachosky
My favorite would have to be Other Half Brewing in Brooklyn. While I tend to enjoy saison/farmhouse ales a bit more than IPAs (Transmitter in Queens is the tops for funky beer), it’s the ritual that draws me to Other Half. Every second Saturday, the brewery typically releases up to four different beers that are on par with the dankest, hoppiest beers brewed anywhere. Just as an example: for their third anniversary, they released an imperial IPA brewed with six different hops that they then dry hopped three times. The beer was so good that I kept coming back with drinking buddies for an entire season last year. Every Saturday, we were on the train by 9am to make Other Half’s 10am release. Afterwards, we’d hit up a breakfast spot and drink our way to oblivion on 10.5% IPAs. Nothing better. –Travis Smith
Throughout my young adulthood, I lived in several different cities, and I still wonder which one to call my “hometown.” Perhaps that’s not right — Pittsburgh is definitely my hometown (Go Steelers!), but the place where I first became aware that I could visit breweries and drink without permission was in Berkeley, California. In my early twenties, I lived in a house in West Berkeley with thirteen other young adults and we all worked on the same urban farm, only two blocks from The Rare Barrel tasting room. The cavernous space has barrels stacked floor to ceiling, all full of sour beer aging to perfection. The owners, Alex and Jay are awesome. They host the “Sour Hour” radio podcast and hold great events — during one evening party, I met Rudi Ghequire, Brewmaster of Rodenbach Brewery in Belgium. And with several guest taps dedicated to some of the area’s best brewers, The Rare Barrel is a one-stop-shop — nay, a necessary pilgrimage — for any fan of sour beer. –Kenny Gould