21 Top Breweries in New England: The List

After arguing over the finer points—range of offerings, quality, and overall consistency—we’ve settled on this list of the 21 top beer-makers in New England right now. Cheers!

By Lauren Clark, Heather Vandenengel, Andy Crouch, and Christopher Hughes


banded horn

At Banded Horn, in Biddeford, you can fill up a growler and then partake in a game of Ping-Pong. / Photograph by Pat Piasecki

Sam Adams and Harpoon may have kicked off the craft-beer revolution a couple of decades ago, but these days there’s way more to the craft-beer scene in New England. So much more, in fact, that whittling down this list was an extremely tall order. Luckily, we had the beer-nerd brain trust that is Lauren Clark, author of Crafty Bastards, beer writers Heather Vandenengel and Andy Crouch, and our own resident brew guru, Christopher Hughes, to argue over the finer points—range of offerings, quality, and overall consistency—and settle on this, the list of the 21 top beer-makers in New England right now. Cheers!

gansett

Skip ‘Gansett’s flagship lager in favor of these top-notch tallboys. / Photograph by Pat Piasecki

21. 

Narragansett Brewing Company

Providence, Rhode Island (not open to the public)

You know Narragansett for its famed “Hi, Neighbor!” slogan and its delightfully cheap (yet incredibly dull) flagship. But ’Gansett is so much more: It brews some truly excellent beer, including the Bock, a Bavarian helles lager with bready malt flavor and noble-hop zing, and Fest, a toasty, malty brew that’s a classic for fall. narragansettbeer.com

Known for: ’Gansett Lager, a staple of concerts, ball games, and house parties.
But don’t miss: Collaborations with Rhode Island institutions like coffee-syrup giant Autocrat (coffee-milk stout), and Del’s Lemonade (a tart, refreshing shandy).

Food: N/A
Beer to go: N/A
Swag: Available online only
Taproom: N/A


20.

Cambridge Brewing Company

Cambridge, Massachusetts

This Kendall Square brewpub has cranked out innovative beers and consistent favorites for more than 25 years, thanks to brewmaster Will Meyers and a long lineage of talented brewers. It continues to evolve with sake-beer hybrids, a commitment to sourcing local ingredients, and a formidable barrel-aging program. cambridgebrewingcompany.com

Known for: Timeless classics like Charles River Porter; hybrids like the hoppy pilsner Remain in Light.
But don’t miss: Whatever barrel-aged or funky offering is on tap, be it a summer barley wine (Arquebus) or a light-bodied saison with Brettanomyces (Brett Grisette).

Food: Burgers, salads, and pasta
Beer to go: Growlers, bottles, and cans
Swag: Pint glasses and T-shirts
Taproom: Yes, with free samples


19.

Lost Nation Brewing

Morrisville, Vermont

Founders Allen Van Anda and James Griffith execute a range of sessionable (read: low in alcohol) styles done right, from a wheat-based IPA to a Belgian blond ale. The charming taproom, meanwhile, is a must-hit on any Vermont beer trek. The brewery is located just off a year-round recreational trail, so outdoor types can ski, snowshoe, snowmobile, or bike to their beer. lostnationbrewing.com

Known for: Gose, a tart ale brewed with coriander and sea salt.
But don’t miss: Vermont pilsner, because the world needs more hop-forward, crisp and clean pilsners.

Food: Local meats, cheeses, and sandwiches
Beer to go: Growler fills and bottles
Swag: Glassware
Taproom: Full pours, no free samples


18.

Tree House Brewing Company

Monson, Massachusetts

For years, Tree House’s flavorful IPAs have drawn massive lines to the small brewery’s idyllic facilities, first in Brimfield and later in Monson. Now, founders Dean Rohan, Jonathan Weisbach, Damien Goudreau, and Nathan Lanier have opened a 9,000-square-foot space across the street, where they’re making fruited wild beers, barrel-aged stouts, and canned versions of their cult-favorite IPAs. Eventually, Lanier plans on cooking wood-fired pizzas on the premises, as well. treehousebrew.com

Known for: Julius, an easy-drinking IPA.
But don’t miss: Sap, a peachy, resin-y IPA.

Food: Bring your own
Beer to go: Growler fills and cans
Swag: T-shirts, glassware, mugs, totes
Taproom: Yes, with free samples


17.

Banded Horn Brewing Co.

Biddeford, Maine

After five years as the head brewer at Brooklyn’s Six Point Brewing, Maine native Ian McConnell returned home, launching Banded Horn on the banks of the Saco River in 2013. The brewery has since become a community hub, with Ping-Pong and cornhole games at night, “Brewsana” yoga classes by day, and, of course, plenty of great brews, including Pepperell, an unfiltered German pils, and the Jolly Woodsman, a highly sought-after coffee stout. bandedhorn.com

Known for: Veridian IPA, now available by the bottle.
But don’t miss: Greenwarden, an American pale ale brewed almost entirely with Maine spruce tips in lieu of hops.

Food: No
Beer to go: Growler fills and bottles
Swag: Shirts, hats, beer steins, pint glasses
Taproom: Pours available


16.

Marshall Wharf Brewing Co.

Belfast, Maine

Marshall Wharf is the house brewery for what might be the coolest beer-drinking destination in all of New England: Three Tides bar and beer garden. Located right on the waterfront, the beer garden overlooks a fleet of tugboats and boasts groovy touches like vinyl-upholstered booths and lampshade-covered string lights. And, yeah: There are 17 beers on tap. Three Tides opens at 4 p.m., but you can order beer, lobster, and shellfish at Marshall Wharf’s indoor/outdoor tasting room starting at 11 a.m. marshallwharf.com

Known for: Cant Dog imperial IPA, one of several beers distributed in cans around Maine.
But don’t miss: Sea Belt Scotch Ale, brewed with dried Maine seaweed.

Food: Snacks and shellfish
Beer to go: Growler fills and cans
Swag: “Canties” (panties in a beer can)
Taproom: Full pours and free tastes


15.

Notch Brewing

Ipswich, Massachusetts (not open to the public)

All of those low-in-alcohol, big-in-flavor beers you see everywhere? Notch pioneered this category, known as “session” brews. For five years, tenant brewer Chris Lohring has used other companies’ facilities to make his Czech-style lagers, Belgian-style saison, and Left of the Dial IPA, all of which allow drinkers to enjoy a few quality beers without being knocked sideways. A dedicated brewery, as well as a beer garden, are scheduled to open in Salem in 2016. notchbrewing.com

Known for: Notch Pils, a crisp, refreshing Czech-style pilsner.
But don’t miss: Černé Pivo, a Czech-style black lager that’s still packed with flavor yet somehow chuggable.

Food: N/A
Beer to go: N/A
Swag: N/A
Taproom: N/A