As 2019 comes to a close, I want to highlight the 10 breweries that I scored the highest in the past year. As I say each year, this is not an attempt to rank the 10 best breweries in the country simply because I haven’t been to them all (yet). Instead, these are my favorites that I have personally visited this year. They run the gamut from national level breweries to true independent craft breweries. Regardless of their stature, if you are near one of these breweries I highly recommend stopping in for a pint or two. Now, without further ado, here is my top 10 list for 2019!
- New Belgium Brewing – Fort Collins, Colorado
Is it any surprise that this is my top brewery of the year? From the unique to the tried and true, every year they put out high quality beers that are always a delight to try. Add in a gorgeous tap room in one of my favorite cities along with a years’ worth of exciting events such as Tour de Fat and they are a hands down selection for this spot.
- Left Hand Brewing Company – Longmont, Colorado
Another perennial favorite, Left Hand is also home to my all-time favorite beer: their Milk Stout Nitro. Nestled along the banks of the mighty St. Vrain river about an hour north of Denver, be sure to stop in when traveling along the front range of Colorado to enjoy some top-notch beer. This year has seen them craft several variants and new beers that have all been delightful to drink, and I always try to stop by to enjoy their tasting room when in the area. If you go, be sure to take the free tour and hear the story of how the brewery got its name.
- pFreim Family Brewers – Hood River, Oregon
A relative newcomer to the Oregon craft beer scene, this lovely brewery in the Columbia river gorge has made quite the name for itself in the area. Combining high quality beers with unique ingredients and styles, pFriem has become one of my favorite breweries in Oregon. Combine that with a lovely tap room at the foot of Mt. Hood and it becomes a must visit for anyone who loves beer.
- Block 15 Brewing – Corvallis, Oregon
A local favorite for me checks in at number four on the list, and for good reason. Heavy on the hops and experimentation, Block 15 quickly became my Friday night haunt once I moved here. Not only is their beer top notch but the food they serve, both in the tap room and their downtown pub, is delicious. One of my favorite things about the brewery is the gorgeous views of the sun setting over the coastal mountains during the summer, viewed from their lovely patio or inside the cozy tap room. This is a must visit when traveling through the central Willamette Valley.
- Equinox Brewing Company – Fort Collins, Colorado
The first brewery I ever went to on my first trip to Colorado, I have always loved this cozy and underrated spot in a crowded craft beer scene. Their beers are top notch and the tap room is the perfect spot to spend an evening with friends while listening to one of the many musical acts they host on the patio each year.
- The Unknown Brewing Company – Charlotte, North Carolina
Brewery number six on the list shows the east coast some love! A hopping and trendy spot in an unexpectedly hip beer scene, this brewery crafts some really unique (and sometimes downright weird) beers in an upscale warehouse turned tap room right at the edge of downtown.
- Full Sail Brewing Company – Hood River, Oregon
One of the granddaddies of the craft beer scene in the PNW, this was a brewery I have been familiar with for a long time and finally managed to make it to their main facility in the gorge. From their tried and true beers to innovative one-offs, Full Sail has managed to stay relevant (and delicious) at the forefront of the craft movement and continues to be one of the must-visit breweries in Oregon.
- Wicked Weed Brewing – Asheville, North Carolina
Another east coast big name that has been on my list to visit, I finally managed to stop in when back east this year. Bold, hoppy creations abound on their tap list, but you will also find a handful of Belgian, German, sour, and barrel-aged beers hanging around. The flavors do not disappoint, nor does the creativity and complexity that has gone into all of these brews, and they do it all from a gorgeous tap room in the heart of downtown Asheville.
- Silver Falls Brewing Company – Silverton, Oregon
The youngest of the breweries on my list this year, I was none the less impressed with the depth and quality of beers available on their tap list. Located in a cozy little brewpub in a small town in the Willamette Valley, this is a great stop for food and drinks after hiking the nearby state park. A little off the beaten path for most folks, it is well worth the trip.
- Stickmen Brewing Company – Lake Oswego, Oregon
From the outside, the place looks nondescript and quiet, located in an equally tranquil suburb of Portland. This external appearance belies a quality brewpub with good food and great beer paired with an amazing back deck overlooking a lake. Definitely high on my list of recommended places to check out in the crowded Portland beer scene.
And there you have it: the top 10 list of 2019! While these are my highest rated breweries from the past year, be sure to check out all of my reviews throughout the year and stop in to any you may be close to. Happy Holidays and cheers to another great year full of excellent beer!