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!

earth eagle

Find gruits, Belgian brews, and IPAs in Earth Eagle’s snug taproom. / Photograph by Pat Piasecki

14. 

Earth Eagle Brewings

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

IPAs may be Earth Eagle’s top-selling beer, but it’s the brewery’s revival of the gruit, an obscure medieval-style ale brewed with ingredients such as rose hips, sage, sweet gale, and spruce tips, that makes this cozy Portsmouth spot a true must-visit. eartheaglebrewings.com

Known for: Gruits galore (like Exhilaration, a lightly sour and floral variety).
But don’t miss: Belgian, English, and hop-forward styles with a twist.

Food: Small plates and sandwiches
Beer to go: Growler fills only
Swag: Yes
Taproom: Flights for a price


13. 

Jack’s Abby Brewing

Framingham, Massachusetts

For decades, craft beer had all but left the lager game: That stuff was for Europeans and Super Bowl-advertising macro-brewers. The game began to change when Jack Hendler and brothers Eric and Sam opened this Framingham enterprise in 2011, reinventing the crisp, bottom-fermented style with the type of tropical hops previously only seen in West Coast IPAs. Not only did they pioneer the now-popular India pale lager, they’ve also brought attention to less heralded Germanic styles with award-winning bocks, doppelbocks, and schwarzbiers. jacksabbybrewing.com

Known for: Hoponius Union, a game-changing India pale lager.
But don’t miss: Anything smoked, including the Fire in the Ham rauchbier, and the Smoke & Dagger schwarzbier.

Food: No
Beer to go: Growler fills and bottles
Swag: Clothing, hats, and a cooler bag
Taproom: Samples and flights for a price


two roads

A peek inside Two Roads’ vast state-of-the-art brewery. / Photograph by Pat Piasecki

12.

Two Roads Brewing Company

Stratford, Connecticut

Cofounded by a former Pabst marketing executive, Two Roads has been cranking out masterful beers, crafted by brewmaster Phil Markowski, since 2012. Find a wide range on offer here, from zesty saisons to Conntucky Lightnin’, a bourbon-barrel-aged strong ale made with corn grits. tworoadsbrewing.com

Known for: Ol’ Factory Pils, a German pilsner.
But don’t miss: Anything from its experimental Road Less Traveled series, like Philsamic, a sour beer made with 14-year-old balsamic vinegar.

Food: Food trucks are nearby
Beer to go: Growlers, bottles, and cans
Swag: Clothing, koozies, Frisbees
Taproom: Full pours and a beer garden


11. 

Mystic Brewery

Chelsea, Massachusetts

This Chelsea-based brewery follows old-world brewing methods to create its range of fantastic Belgian-style ales. What keeps them modern? A nerdlike fascination with yeast. For the “Vinland” series, Mystic forages for local fruit, isolates the wild yeast strains, and incorporates them into its brews, a process known as “yeast hunting”—with delicious results. mystic-brewery.com

Known for: Saisons from the “Cycle Saisonnier” series, which offers a new style each season.
But don’t miss: Table Beer, a dry and lemony session saison.

Food: Bring your own
Beer to go: Growler fills and bottles
Swag: T-shirts, hats, and glassware
Taproom: Samples and full pours


10.

The Alchemist

Waterbury, Vermont

There’s plenty of hype around John and Jen Kimmich’s Vermont brewery—their Heady Topper is widely considered the best double IPA ever. But the Alchemist lives up to its reputation with a beer that’s citrusy and piney, with an alcohol content—8 percent by volume—and a sturdy malt platform that accentuates those flavors. Getting your hands on it requires serious determination, but when the brewery/visitors center/taproom opens in Stowe in 2016, you’ll be able to get samples and beer straight from the source. alchemistbeer.com

Known for: Heady Topper.
But don’t miss: Focal Banger, an American IPA with Mosaic and Citra hops—if you make it to one of the Alchemist’s new ticketed beer releases.

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


9.

Enlightenment Ales/Idle Hands Craft Ales

Everett, Massachusetts

One of the first nanobreweries operating in Massachusetts, Idle Hands produces an intriguing mix of Belgian and German styles in limited quantities. Enlightenment Ales, meanwhile, focuses on urban farmhouse and American-style ales. So why are we pairing them? The two partnered in Everett in 2013, with Enlightenment’s Ben Howe taking over as head brewer for both. enlightenmentales.comidlehandscraftales.com

Known for: Idle Hands’ Patriarch, a Belgian pale ale, and Enlightenment’s Brut, the only bière de champagne produced regularly in the U.S.
But don’t miss: Enlightenment’s Titania, a Nordic saison.

Food: No
Beer to go: Growler fills and bottles
Swag: Glassware, clothing
Taproom: Samples only


8.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids

Warren, Vermont (not open to the public)

Lawson’s represents all that’s great about Vermont beer—like luscious IPAs and maple-syrup-infused ales—without going overboard or slacking on quality. Sean Lawson has kept his Vermont brewery small and closed to the public, but he’s begun crafting batches at Two Roads (see: number 12), and teaming up with others. The brews are tough to track down, but you can find the lineup in Vermont (try Warren Store, in Warren, for bottles, and Waitsfield’s Mad Taco for drafts). lawsonsfinest.com

Known for: Double Sunshine IPA.
But don’t miss: Sip of Sunshine, an equally good IPA that can be scored in 16-ounce cans in Connecticut.

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


  • Brian

    Dispise these stupid lists. Call it “our favorite” which puts it in the right context. Either that or go and try EVERY one and their recent offerings, and then make a grand statement over who is “best”. Otherwise these lists are a waste of ink other than being fluff pieces.

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  • David Shanahan

    Treehouse 18th???

  • jacobtheprobasketballtalk

    Bog Iron needs some loving.

  • CMAC

    No Wormtown? They win best brewery in the US, but don’t make this list? This article loses all credibility, also their new taproom is open and its awesome.

  • TheFez98

    No Bog Iron (Norton, MA), no Wormtown (Worcester, MA)? This article is BS.

    • Mike

      I like WormTown Be Hoppy. Bought a growler of their Buddha Liscious at their grand opening and drank it 5 days later…not sure what happened because it was horrible and I had tasted it at the Brewery (and like it). I think I’ll just stick to Be Hoppy at the local bar on tap. Haven’t been to the place in Norton…

      • TheFez98

        You should visit the Bog if you like good brews. Right across the street from Wendell’s (excellent wing joint) on 123 (a nice combo). They are actually premiering a new Pale Ale tonight (Robble Robble – 5.2%).

  • http://www.monheganwellness.com/ Tara Hire

    What About Monhegan Brewing Company on Monhegan Island, Maine?

  • bud_man

    Thank you for finally finding CT on the map. A few things however:

    1. Treehouse that low, really? Should be top 10.
    2. You guys need to find Beerd.
    3. How do you miss OEC? Boston is one of select places it reaches an coming off a great appearance at Extreme, you would think they would be on the radar.

    • Mike

      I agree that Tree House should be top 10 MINIMUM.

      • tracymt

        I thought the same exact thing–but then I read they’re going off of availability, which coincides with ‘gansett and Allagash being so high.

  • gregk

    No Fiddlehead?

    • Zack

      the best part of that brewery is Folinos

  • Blatherbeard

    Portsmouth Brewery. one of the best in ne and one of the only ones that had at least 1 beer that people NOT in new england had heard of. (KtG is the only beer outside of ne that ive ever been asked about, i moved to Tx.) Glad to see pretty things and CbC get some attention, even though CbC should be higher on the list as well, IMO. Will also admit, that ive never even HEARD of 90 percent of the list.

    so ymmv and my opinion subject to change.

    😉

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    • sowseeds

      Maybe come back to New England and try some of the 90% you haven’t then your opinion will change. Many of these are semi recent start ups that are putting New England on the map as world class. Tree house should definitely be higher up and Wormtown is missing. I also think Bissell Brothers deserves a spot on this list especially with the release of swish but maybe that’s a better kept secret…whoops.

      • Blatherbeard

        Yeah, i def want to do a beer trip up there one o these days. I did discover Able Ebeneezer last trip up, which was some great beers as well.

      • Dominic Leo

        Swish, dinner, substance , epiphany, lunch,etc

        Not a lot of messing around in maine these days

        Dinner is number 27 top beer in world on beer advocate right now

  • Paul

    Just tried the beers at Medusa Brewery in Hudson. Very impressive. My favorite was the Moffat Scottish 80 Shilling but all the beers we tasted were impressive. 111 Main Street Hudson MA.

  • Mike

    I was not impressed with Medusa. I look for beers that stand out with originality, and Medusa reminded me too much of Amherst Brewery. Bought a growler but won’t refill it with anything they had at their initial opening. Tree House and Trillium have ruined me for beers that taste like every one else’s. I also like Pretty Things Meadowlark enough to buy it regularly at Julio’s.

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    • tracymt

      I went to Medusa a couple of months ago and thought their beers were pretty damn good for a brewery that just opened. I had one of their pale ales and it was super crisp and fresh with a a nice light bitter finish. I find that I’m pretty hard to please but would take the 45 min drive there just to hang out and drink!..and of course find refuge in a hotel room and/or pee pee soaked heck hole.

  • David

    What no Night Shift? Boooo!!!

  • Bruce Thomas

    No Long Trail? Really?

  • kfg

    Anyone ever hear of BuzzardsBay Brewery????

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  • Hubis

    Anyone who has ever had Tree House knows they don’t belong outside the top 5. This list is a joke. I’m skeptical they’ve even had their beer since they list Julius as an IPA when it’s an APA. Morons.

    • GamehendgeBrewingCo

      I agree… but Julius is most definitely an IPA

  • Steve Petrarca

    How Long Trail, Bog Iron, and Trillium are not on this list is beyond me. Also, Rising Tide!

    • Renee Giusti

      Ahem…there are 3 pages in the article. Trillium is page 3, #3 🙂

  • Christopher Perry

    You missed Kelsen in Derry, NH with their Gold Medal Paradigm Brown Ale.

  • Liam

    As someone that works in the beer industry… anyone that thinks Naragansett makes this list and Night Shift doesn’t, obviously knows nothing about beer. Fiddlehead and Wormtown are also massive snubs. I get that this is about pageviews but if you were looking for brand recognition on page one Smuttynose would have been a much better choice.

  • Dan Stevens

    Tree House at #18, are you f#$5ing kidding me? Plenty of their beers are among the top ranked beers by Beer Advocate & they cant keep up exploding demand. Two Roads is an impressive facility but their beer is by and large thoroughly mediocre. They do brew the incredible Sip of Sunshine as a contract brewer, but come on now.

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  • Hudson Valley Slim

    Hill Farmstead & Trillium. Well hell, someone has good taste.

  • Disappointment

    How much did Narragansett and Notch pay you to get on this huge swing and miss of a list…have you ever drunk beer prior to writing this article?

  • balcobomber25

    Long Trail, Wachusett, Shipyard, Smuttynose, Otter Creek all should be on this list.