Get us in your inbox

Alluvial Brewing
Photograph: Jennifer Kathryn Photography

15 scenic Midwest breweries worth a trip

Try some outstanding new brews on your next getaway by stopping by one of these Midwest breweries

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long
Written by
Adam Lukach
Advertising

Sure, the Midwest is known for its corn, but they do other grains pretty well, too—namely yeast and hops. Our country’s heartland has become as saturated with breweries as anywhere on the coasts, with stellar options from North Dakota and Iowa to eastern Ohio. And it’s not just about the beer: the views offer the best of Midwestern scenes, with city skylines, riverbank retreats and beautiful rural sprawls. The brews are pretty good, too, ranging from traditional lagers to the latest IPA trend to effervescent, funky, ambitious ales. At these top-rated Midwest breweries, you’ll find something to suit even non-beer-drinker palates (or possibly a few Midwest wineries nearby). Drink up the ales and the sights at these excellent Midwest breweries.

Best Midwest breweries

There aren't many breweries using dandelion, nettle, hickory and chanterelle mushrooms in their beer, but at Scratch Brewing Company, those ingredients are fairly commonplace. Situated a few miles outside of the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois, this farmhouse brewery imbues its experimental creations with locally farmed and foraged components, maintaining acres of gardens on its private farm. When the weather cooperates, you can take a seat on the lush outdoor patio every weekend and taste pours of a refreshing Lemon Balm Sour or a savory Morel ale (made with mushrooms each spring).

Discover the best things to do in Illinois

Paying tribute to the Scandinavian heritage of many living in North Dakota, the Drekker Brewing Brewhalla turns a cavernous railroad shop into a beer hall fit for a viking. Once you've ordered a Pillager porter or Super Freak IPA, you can attempt to set a high score on the in-house collection of pinball tables or take your beverage outside to drink by the patio's fire pit.

Advertising

Set on a 40-acre organic farm not far from the outskirts of Ames, Iowa, the weathered wood of Alluvial Brewing's taproom blends into its rural surroundings. Inside, you'll find everything from trendy milkshake IPAs to classics like English mild and American pilsner on tap. A self-described "free-range taproom," once you have a glass, you can sip it on the outdoor patio or while walking through the surrounding farm and wetlands (you might want to bring some boots with you).

Discover the best things to do in Iowa

4. Spearfish, SD: Crow Peak Brewing Co.

If you're driving on I-90 through the Black Hills in South Dakota, consider making a pitstop in the small town of Spearfish, which has cultivated a vibrant brewing scene over the years. Crow Peak Brewing Co. was the first to open back in 2007, brewing out of a small shed before moving into its current lodge-like taproom, which offers outdoor seating on a balcony as well as a patio. You'll want to try year-round favorites like 11th Hour IPA and Canyon Cream Ale before sampling small-batch lagers and goses.

Advertising

Founded by a pair of brewers who each studied their craft in Germany, KC Bier Co. brings the crisp flavors of traditional German lagers and ales to Kansas City. Guests can have a glass of pilsner and a bratwurst in the Bierhalle or try to snag a seat in the outdoor Biergarten, where you can sit down at a picnic table and enjoy a Bavarian pretzel and a hefeweizen. This loving homage to Europe's largest bier producer may seem out of place, but 22 percent of Kansas City residents claim German heritage. Prost!

Nestled in the small college town of Athens, Ohio, Jackie O's began as a brewpub uptown (which you can still visit) before opening this much larger taproom and brewing facility. There are typically more than 50 varieties of beer available on tap and in bottles and cans, including limited-edition barrel-aged stouts as well as standbys like the Razz Wheat ale. Look for the towering silos, head inside to order and then bring your beer to the patio to soak in the feeling of being among the hilly landscape of Appalachia.

Discover the best things to do in Ohio

Advertising
Chicago, IL: Metropolitan Brewing
Photograph: Nick Murway

7. Chicago, IL: Metropolitan Brewing

You probably know the downtown stretch of the Chicago River (yes, the part that gets dyed green for Saint Patrick’s Day), but the less-traveled western branch wraps up through city neighborhoods and, eventually, the patio at Metropolitan Brewing. With floor-to-ceiling windows and a patio perched right on the riverbanks, Midwestern views don’t get much better than the sweeping sights here. Metropolitan is also known for its meticulously crafted German-style lagers, so you can treat your taste buds as much as your eyes.

Born out of a Central Minnesota homebrew club, Spilled Grain Brewhouse has gone on to win more than 25 awards since opening in 2015—iincluding back-to-back wins for its False Hope Wheatwine at the Great American Beer Festival in 2018 and 2019. The spacious taproom serves 14 drafts (along with house made root beer) that you can sample indoors or at an outdoor table. Don't leave without trying the Bearded Man Old Ale, a dark, malty brew with notes of toffee, brown sugar and sherry.

Discover the best things to do in Minnesota

Advertising
Marshall, MI: Dark Horse Brewing Company
Photograph: Courtesy Dark Horse Brewing Company

9. Marshall, MI: Dark Horse Brewing Company

Originally founded as a brewpub in 1997 before quickly transitioning to a full-blown microbrewery, Dark Horse Brewing Company is a veteran of Michigan's fertile craft beer scene. You can still grab a pint of Dark Horse's ubiquitous Crooked Tree IPA and Raspberry Ale while relaxing on its patio near the Kalamazoo River, outfitted with a dedicated outdoor bar. And following a 2019 merger with Royal Oaks' Roak Brewing Co., there's now even more beer to try (including kettle sours and hazy IPAs) when you stop by.

Discover the best things to do in Michigan

10. Cincinnati, OH: Rhinegeist Brewery

The highest space on this list, Cincinnati’s beloved Rhinegeist Brewery features a scenic rooftop terrace that gives guests a panoramic view of the city. The rooftop also features an entirely separate full bar to better serve those seated up top. The interior isn’t too shabby either, literally—a cool, shabby-chic space with exposed brick, vintage touches and tall ceilings. An added bonus: Rhinegeist also brews its own cider and serves house-made cocktails, if you or a friend needs a change of pace.

Advertising
Bucyrus, MO: Piney River Brewing Co.
Photograph: Joleen Senter Durham

11. Bucyrus, MO: Piney River Brewing Co.

A late-night bonfire and a bottle of Belgian-style beer inspired Joleen and Brian Durham to transform their 1940s-era barn into a craft brewery. Tucked away in a valley in the Ozarks, Piney River Brewing Co. has won awards for its Old Tom Porter and Float Trip Ale—and it's top-notch beer is complimented by some amazing views. Grab a drink and head to the BARn's patio to gaze at the rolling hills while you savor ales made with limestone filtered Ozarks water from an on-site well.

Discover the best things to do in Missouri

Just across the highway from Marquette University, Third Space Brewing has transformed an old warehouse into an urban oasis for beer-lovers of all stripes. Conceived as a place for Milwaukee residents to gather with their community, this relative newcomer to the city's craft brewing scene is known for its award-winning Unite the Clans Scottish ale as well as an array of approachable IPAs—including some juicy and double varieties, naturally. Meet up over a pint indoors or take the conversation to the dog-friendly beer garden in the taproom's courtyard.

Discover the best things to do in Milwaukee

Advertising
La Vista, NE: Kros Strain Brewing Company
Photograph: Jeff Hardy

13. La Vista, NE: Kros Strain Brewing Company

Hopheads, get your taste buds ready. Kros Strain Brewing is known for its potent IPAs, earning a Great American Beer Festival medal for its hazy Fairy Nectar London DDH IPA. Thankfully, if you prefer something less bitter, there's also a solid lineup of helles and hefeweizens on the menu at this Omaha brewery, which bears the last names of the friends who joined forces to found it. The taproom boasts a sizable patio complete with a firepit—and there's usually a food truck on-site serving hangover-easing eats.

A mainstay of the Indiana brewing community since 1997, Upland Brewing Co. has locations throughout the state, but its taproom in Indianapolis's popular Fountain Square neighborhood is your best bet for great sights and even better beers. One block from Indianapolis bike and pedestrian pathways the Cultural Trail, Upland FSQ boasts a gigantic beer garden and 22 brews on tap, so that you can nurse a Campside Pale Ale amid the urban scenery. There's even an on-site bike shop where you can get your ride tuned up while you rehydrate.

Discover the best things to do in Indianapolis

Advertising

15. Marengo, OH: Hoof Hearted Brewing

Hoof Hearted has a pair of locations in its Ohio home, but its Marengo outpost is situated on a vast piece of rural countryside just off a county road. You’ll find fantastic brews with pop-culture-riffing names (“Did We Just Become Best Fwendz?”) and a laid-back vibe in a taproom that channels simple comfort with its supper-club-meets-your-parents’-basement aesthetic. The brewery makes the most of its outdoor space, too, boasting sizable front and back patios, plus a walking trail that wraps around a small pond with additional seating tucked back in the wooded area.

Discover the best things to do in Ohio

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising