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!
New England Brewing Company
Long before Connecticut emerged as a craft force to be reckoned with, NEBCO was producing sought-after double IPAs and great German pilsners. The brewery’s double IPAs established its fine reputation, but it’s NEBCO’s continued experimentation—barrel-aged specialty brews, single-hopped IPAs—that make this spot a darling of the beer-geek community. newenglandbrewing.com
Known for: Sea Hag IPA, one of the first IPAs to be canned back in 2005.
But don’t miss: Imperial Stout Trooper, released each December.
Beer to go: Growlers only
Swag: Glassware and apparel
Taproom: Four free samples per person
Oxbow Brewing Company
Newcastle, Maine, and Portland, Maine
Oxbow’s slogan is “loud beer from a quiet place.” That volume? From distinctively funky, often dry, amply hopped, and sometimes sour farmhouse styles. Visit either location to drink in the scenery: The Newcastle brewery and taproom is beautifully rustic, while the Portland taproom sits within a graffiti-splashed, barrel-filled warehouse. oxbowbeer.com
Known for: Farmhouse Pale Ale, a saison brewed with American hops.
But don’t miss: Saison dell’Aragosta, a collaboration with Italy’s Birrificio del Ducato that’s brewed with live lobsters.
Food: Cheese plates in Newcastle
Beer to go: Growler fills and bottles
Swag: Hats, glassware, lighters
Taproom: Pours available
Maine Beer Company
Daniel Kleban was interning at a law firm in 2007 when an attorney introduced him to the joys of home brewing. He ditched his law career immediately. Daniel and his brother David were the first to brew in the One Industrial Way building outside Portland (now the home of notable newcomers Foundation Brewing Company and Bissell Brothers), and now produce six immaculate core beers out of their slick new Freeport facility. mainebeercompany.com
Known for: Lunch, a West Coast-style IPA.
But don’t miss: The extremely hoppy Dinner, available four times a year at the brewery.
Food: Bring your own
Beer to go: Bottles only
Swag: Hoodies, glassware, and more
Taproom: Samples and flights for a price
Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project
Somerville, Massachusetts (not open to the public)
Founded seven years ago by husband-and-wife team Dann and Martha Paquette, this proudly quirky tenant brewer (which produces its beer at Buzzards Bay Brewing, in Westport) makes unusual takes on traditional saisons and Belgian tripels and quads. Inspiration can come from anywhere: vintage German postcards, The Book of Saints, even a tree full of decaying baby dolls (the tree is real, located in the U.K., and the true story behind the brew Baby Tree). prettybeer.com
Known for: Jack D’Or, a “Saison Americaine.”
But don’t miss: Baby Tree, a Belgian-style quadrupel.
Beer to go: N/A
In 2013, home brewers JC and Esther Tetreault took their hobby to the next level, opening this farmhouse-style brewery in Fort Point. The hopped-up IPAs and special sour beers reflect all things local: grain from Valley Malt, hops from Four Star Farms, and barrels from nearby GrandTen and Bully Boy Distillers. Keeping things personal? The native yeast culture used in Trillium’s Stonington saison comes from Connecticut’s Saltwater Farm Vineyard, where the couple were married. trilliumbrewing.com
Known for: Trillium farmhouse ale, a rustic, unfiltered saison.
But don’t miss: PM Dawn, Day & Night, or any of Trillium’s other cold-brew-infused stouts.
Beer to go: Bottles and growler fills
Swag: Glassware and wearables
Taproom: Samples coming soon
Allagash Brewing Company
Back in 1994, when founder Rob Tod introduced his Belgian-inspired flagship brew—a lemony witbier he dubbed Allagash White—it was viewed as a charming curiosity. Two decades later? It’s one of the most emulated in the country. Today, Tod and brewmaster Jason Perkins continue to push palates in new and interesting directions, particularly with their limited-edition brews, which use all manner of fruits and berries, mead barrels, and even 2,700-gallon wine foudres. allagash.com
Known for: Allagash White, the finest Belgian wit style in America.
But don’t miss: Nancy, a red sour ale brewed with Brettanomyces and Maine cherries.
Beer to go: Bottles only
Swag: Tap handles, soap, you name it
Taproom: Samples only
Hill Farmstead Brewery
Shaun Hill’s brewing compound, opened at his family’s farm in Greensboro in 2010, produces ales that combine tradition with wild, forward-thinking experimentation, be it with hops, barrel-aging, style mash-ups, or local fruits. That Hill does it with such consistency and quality helps explain why Hill Farmstead has twice been named best brewery in the world—yes, the world—by the website RateBeer. Thankfully for those making the trek to the Northeast Kingdom, soon you won’t have to wait outside: Hill Farmstead is expected to have a proper taproom by early summer. hillfarmstead.com
Known for: Beers with a new-world hoppiness and an old-world farmhouse character, such as the Edward pale ale and Abner imperial IPA (both named after Hill’s ancestors).
But don’t miss: Ann Saison, a wine-barrel-aged, Belgian-style farmhouse ale brewed with local honey (these grand crus come out only when Hill deems them ready).
Food: Coming soon
Beer to go: Bottles and limited growler fills
Swag: Branded glassware, hoodies, shirts
Taproom: Coming soon
Read more about Hill Farmstead Brewery.
Check out all of our Top Breweries in New England coverage.