For as long as I can remember, my dream was to work remotely and take a road trip. This Fall the opportunity arose and I went for it. The first leg included 9 states, 8 campsites, 7 cities, and 3 national parks. I left Atlanta on Labor Day and arrived in Kansas on October 1 with my truck, a 16-foot travel trailer, and two pups. Over 25 days, I visited 41 breweries so I will talk about a few that stick out in my mind but scroll to the very bottom to see every brewery I visited and the beers I had there!
My first stop on the trip was Asheville, NC. This was a highly anticipated stop but actually didn’t live up to my expectations. The beer was good and I'll never complain about a city with a brewery everywhere you look but I didn’t feel like the city offered much more than that. It is in a beautiful setting, nestled in the Smoky Mountains, but purely looking at Asheville, it was subpar. Sierra Nevada was my first brewery stop in Asheville. The building was unreal, a huge cabin with a rolling backyard and an amphitheater. I wasn’t overly stoked to drink beer here because I prefer the microbreweries with funky brews but it was worth the visit. My favorite brewery in Asheville was DSSOLVR. They’re known for unique beers - a lot of sours and IPAs. I only had one beer here because it was my last stop of the day but I wish I would have just stopped here! I chose the One Punch Defeat Dry Hopped Fruited Smoothie Sour. The flavor gave mimosa and was super smooth. The coolest brewery setting in Asheville for me was at the Hi-Wire Brewing Beer Garden location. They have a couple of spots in Asheville but I thought this one looked the coolest. It was basically all outside and gave luau vibes. I had their Lager which is super crisp and I would always recommend it if it's available on tap.
After Asheville, I headed west through the Smoky Mountains to Knoxville, TN. I was only here for a weekend and my main focus was hitting the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I spent the majority of Saturday there and left very happy after seeing two black bears, one that I was the only one to see. I only hit one brewery, Crafty Bastard, after struggling to find one that was dog friendly and safe from the incoming rain showers. I tried their Session IPA and Earl Gray Tea Pale Ale. I wasn't impressed by the IPA, it tasted like any other but the Pale Ale was delicious. The tea flavor came through in the aftertaste and it was just really smooth. Looking back on the trip as a whole, this beer sticks out as a favorite.
Cincinnati, OH was up next and I racked up a good bit in my total brewery stops, adding seven in this city. This was my favorite city of the trip for beer and brewery vibes. I also loved my campsite in Cincy, it was right on the river so I had a beautiful view. It was Tucker’s Landing RV Park just east of downtown. Streetside Brewery was a highlight because I made friends with the beertenders. I tried a lot of their beers but the one I'd recommend is their Came Through Drippin’ Berries & Cream Milkshake IPA - very fruity, real smooth. I spent an evening at Fifty West and their setup was super rad. They had two pickleball courts, three sand volleyball courts, and a huge outdoor area to hangout. The atmosphere here was great plus they had good burgers and fries for food and a delicious Payload Hazy IPA. Urban Artifact stood out to me when I was researching breweries because it is located in an old Catholic Church. Their taproom is in the basement and they have kept some church-like touches to include the theme. They only brew Fruit Tart beers so think sour but like the best sours ever. They brew using only real fruit so the flavors come through strong. They are sour so you get a pucker effect but they’re so well balanced with the fruity flavor that I hardly noticed. I had to hit Rhinegeist to check out their rooftop bar and Madtree Brewing was another memorable stop because they had good merch, beer, and a beautiful outdoor patio.
Just up the road, I made my way to Indianapolis, IN. I was surprised at how small Indy felt to me but it was nice because the pups and I could walk everywhere. We spent a morning visiting a farmer’s market, strolling the river walk and park, then headed to find some beer. I hit my second brewery located in a Catholic Church, St. Joseph’s Brewery. This one was based in the actual church and it still looks just like a church so it’s pretty wild. The beer was okay but the setting was very unique. Metazoa Brewing Company was my favorite. It had a dog park attached so that was awesome. Leo and Saylor got to run around and make friends while I drank. I also learned that maybe I just have a thing for Earl Grey Tea beers because my favorite here was their Early to Rise Extra Special Bitter with Earl Grey Tea. Other stops worth mentioning include Chilly Water Brewing which was music/concert themed and Sun King which is a bigger one in Indy.
After a few cities, it was time for a nature break, and Indiana Dunes National Park was just the spot. I actually think this was my favorite stop out of everywhere I went. It was so peaceful and the pups loved playing in the waves on Lake Michigan. The sunsets were stunning and I loved the diversity of nature. There was a “beach”, and swamps, and forests all in a little oasis. I did hit two breweries in the area, both in nearby Michigan City. Zorn Brew Works and Shoreline Brewery, Zorn was my favorite of the two but neither was great.
I jumped to the other side of the lake for a weekend in Chicago, IL, and managed to notch 9 more breweries. I took Friday off from work to give me an extra day to enjoy the city because I hadn’t ever been. I loved it but I will say it was a bit hard to manage with two pups, one a huge German Shepherd and the other an anxious gal. I tried to visit The Bean but was kicked out because dogs weren’t allowed. I learned quickly that Chicago wasn’t the most dog-friendly city but that wasn’t a shock. It just meant I had to spend most of my time at breweries. We took a Canine Cruise Saturday morning and got to learn about the history and architecture of the city. I loved that and it was awesome to explore the river and go out to the lake for a skyline view. Dovetail Brewery was a standout. They brewed classic European beers so I went with the Vienna Lager and enjoyed it. I could have tried their whole menu here. Alarmist Brewing was a stop I was excited about and besides the little kid’s birthday party that was going on, it was fun. I had their Le Jus NEIPA. It was the 2018 GABF winner and the first-ever winner for the Hazy IPA category so that was exciting for me since it’s my favorite beer style. Another notable beer was the Beer for Cafes from Off Color Brewing. It was a pumpkin beer but it didn’t taste like someone was trying to make it pumpkin. It tasted of Fall and spices so the pumpkin flavor was there but it didn’t come across as fake to me. Pilot Project is a cool concept. It is basically a brewery incubator so brewers can get a chance to brew and sell their beer without the upfront costs of their own brick-and-mortar. I liked it because I could try beers from a handful of places and they all had their own style.
My last big stop was St. Louis, MO. I hit nine breweries and a national park, The Gateway Arch. I had seen the arch before, I think when I was in high school, but I never realized it was a National Park so I had to stop by again. My first brewery stop was Four Hands Brewery. I liked the vibes but their beers were just a little boring for me. Side Project Brewing was recommended to me by the beertender I made friends with in Cinci. They do barrel-aged beers and I loved this stop. It was out of my comfort zone and I actually had to ask for help to decide what beer to try. I tried two beers and they both tasted like a sour wine to me. Another stop I enjoyed was Earthbound Beer. It is located in The Grove, which I was told is the LGBTQ+ area of town. The beer was good, merch was fun, and they had this cool upstairs area inside the brewery. I also liked Rockwell Beer Co. which is partially built with old storage containers and 2nd Shift Brewing which actually had my favorite beers out of all of St. Louis. I loved their Little Big Hop Session IPA. It was my favorite IPA of the trip. The other beer I loved was a Key Lime Blonde. I’m always a sucker for Key Lime beers but typically they’re sours and I enjoyed that this one was a blonde.
My final stop of the trip was Columbia, MO. It was a quick stop but I squeezed in a brewery and a cidery. Columbia was not pup-friendly so I actually tried to hit three breweries but only one allowed dogs, Logboat Brewing. This place was busy but I wasn’t impressed by their beer. I had a flight but nothing stood out to me. Waves Cider Co. was more of a hit for me. I also had a flight here and their pineapple cider was my favorite.
Overall, I had a few great beers, a lot of good beers, and basically no bad beers. On my road trip back to Atlanta I am stopping at a few more cities and plan to add even more breweries to my ever-growing list! Check out the list below to see every brewery I hit on my way to Kansas, plus the beers I tried, and a quick review on each.
Liquid Hoppiness IPA 7% - delicious, rides the line between a classic ipa and hazy
Honey Pale Ale 5% - light but didn’t get any honey or sweet vibes
Greenman Lager 4.2% - crisp and crushable
Nerd Nectar IPA 6.2% - super hazy super fruity
Wicked Weed Brewing
Watermelon-Dragonfruit Burst Sour - tastes like koolaid. good, not just a pucker sour
One Punch Defeat - Dry Hopper Fruited Smoothie Sour. favorite beer of the day reminded me of a mimosa but better. super smooth
1985 Hazy Mango IPA - good as expected. fruity aftertaste but not too hazy overall
Lager - so crisp
Pink Lemonade Session Sour Ale - tastes like lemonade but doesn’t have as much flavor as i’d like. wish there was more of a tartness to it
Session IPA - okay nothing special
Earl Gray Tea Pale Ale - really good. can taste the tea in the aftertaste a lot
DDH All Together New England/Hazy - okay, no flavor depth
F*ck It We’ll Do It Lime Key Lime Pie Gose - so so tart but so good. super limey but no pie flavor like crust or anything.
Trouble in Paradise Fruit Beer with Mango, Pink Guava & Passionfruit - real fruity, not a lot of beer taste but i think that’s the point. refreshing
Who’s A Good Beer Hazy Pale Ale - typical but has kind of a smoky flavor which is interesting.
Came Through Drippin’ Berries & Cream Milkshake IPA - really smooth, fruity. no ipa bitterness
Festbier - nice light beer. little bit more flavor than your typical lager.
Wiggle Wagon West Coast Pale Ale - nice light crisp with the hop body
Payload Hazy IPA - real good. idk how to explain it but it has a wheat beer finish to it like a hoppy blue moon
Spyglass Lemon Lime Fruit Tart - yum. just tastes like citrus. i think i’m used to artificial lemon and lime and this doesn’t have as much of a flavor
Fire Iron Tropical Midwest Fruit Tart - favorite, so many flavors (pink guava, banana, passionfruit). love the banana in it
SBS Passionfruit, Lime & Orange - somehow tastes a little like apple juice
Pickle - tastes like a pickle. doesn’t have a tart punch though
All beers are really good. they’re so fruity but genuine fruit-fruity.
Cloud Harvest Double Dry Hopped Hazy IPA - yum but nothing special. pretty smooth though
Water Melly Fruited Ale with Watermelon - so much watermelon flavor. it tastes like a jolly rancher exactly.
First of All Session IPA - meh had way better. flat in flavor
pizza was meh too wouldn’t recommend
Beluga Pale Ale - very good. lots of depth in the flavor
Ramble On Low Cal IPA - delicious. lots of flavor for being so light. honestly wouldn’t know it was light if you didn’t look at the color
Helles Lager - okay. think i’ve had others with more flavor
Tropical Wheat - not very fruity at all, overall not impressed
St. Joseph Brewery
Mango Confessions Mango IPA - good. lots of mango not enough hop flavor for me
Apricot Belgian Blonde with Apricot - boring. not any depth just a lot of apricot upfront
Tangerine Wit - seems to be a crowd favorite. really good tangerine flavor
Holy Rolled Oat - IPA brewed with oats. smooth, bitter, oats give it a different malt flavor
Fountain Square Brewery
Hop Your Face Imperial IPA - don’t like, way too bitter
Preachers Daughter Amber - good full flavor. not my favorite kind of beer but can appreciate
Java Hop 4 Teacher Coffee-Infused Pale Ale - yum tastes like straight coffee
Inevitably Hazy IPA - not as hazy as i like but good. more bitter than typical
Hop For Teacher Pale Ale - good. not a huge difference between this and the hazy but i like this one better.
Workingmans Pilsner - crisp, real good classic pilsner
Chilly Water Brewing
Landslide Peach IPA - good ipa but didn’t get much peach
Captain Trips Hoppy Summer Ale - eh i was hoping for more of a fruity hop but it was just bitter
Metazoa Brewing Company
Good Boy Pilsner - okay. had crisper. too much dance around not just pils flavor
Whoa Blackberry Bramble Lamb Blonde Ale - boring. hardly any flavor
Early to Rise Extra Special Bitter with Earl Grey Tea - favorite. the tea flavor is so good
Jumpin Joey Pale Ale - a little boring. flavor is flat to me
Cat Hops West Coast IPA - second fave but wish the mouthfeel was fuller. flavor is good and fruity
Trash Panda Vanilla Latte Inspire Blonde Ale - yum. tastes like a vanilla latte
Indiana City Brewing
Kickoff Peach Blueberry Pale Ale - okay. wanted more fruity flavor. just tasted like a pale ale to me
Sun King Brewing
Sunlight Orange Vanilla Cream Ale - tastes just like a creamsicle. could drink multiple
Keller Haze IPA - yum hazy ipa front and kind of a orange wheat beer finish
Zorn Brew Works
Golden Grain Cream Ale - good but not as crisp as i expect. had a lemon twist.
After Two NE Hazy IPA - best one. big flavor. tastes like a hazy should taste.
Mystical Space Typhoon NE IPA - described as aggressively juicy and i feel like it’s hardly juicy. not much flavor.
Pachuca Sunrise Margarita Gose - least favorite. weirdly had a tequila flavor but not enough lime to make it good.
More Betterness Golden Ale brewed with Wildflower Honey & Lemon Peel - lemon really comes through. it’s more tart than i expected. more of a sour to me than a golden ale.
Hop, Drop & Roll Pale Ale - not it for me. too dark of a pale ale. not a bad beer but it says it was finished with blood orange so i was expecting lighter and fruitier and it isn’t
Forest Crawler Hazy IPA - i wouldn’t call it a hazy hardly. good but just an ipa. more bitter than i like
Vox Pilsner - told the beertender it was good after one sip cause it was really good. crisp. took me back to bierstadt, especially cause it’s served in a .5 liter mug
Corridor Brewery & Provisions
Echo Laser Punch DDH IPA - good. big flavor but surprisingly smooth. 6.6% abv but the flavor makes me think it’s stronger, in a good way
Vienna Lager - delicious. darker color and maltier flavor like it should be.
Bone Valley Hazy IPA - super juicy, tropical fruit forward.
Tuna Pale Ale - interesting in a really good way. the color looks like a light lager and the flavor finishes like a light beer rather than hoppy. flavor gives me apricots
Magolorian Pale Ale - okay. more bitter than i like.
Fall Lager - tasty. light and very drinkable but has a fall flavor to it. not pumpkin just tastes like fall
Le Jus NEIPA - 2018 GABF winner. first-ever winner for hazy ipa. v good. exactly how a hazy should be.
Tangled Root Brewing
Sunkissed Blonde Ale - description says it is blackberry, lime, and citrus. it’s good. tastes barrel aged to me. can really taste the lime and blackberry
Off Color Brewing
Beer for Cafes - pumpkin beer. really good. wouldn’t want more than one but it doesn’t taste like artificial pumpkin it’s just super flavorful with spices. first pumpkin of the season and it may be the best i’ve ever had
Pilot Project Brewing
Manana De Mallorca Spanish Tea IPA - good but interesting. american ipa body but almost like a barrel aged flavor to it.
West of Piha Hazy IPA with Phantasm - yum super dank. really smooth.
Courtesy of Copenhagen Fruited Pale Ale - tastes like fruit punch. so good. could drink a bunch.
Medusa Pale Ale - light flavor but refreshing. easy sipping.
Four Hands Brewing
State Wide Hazy Pale Ale - good but kind of boring to me. tastes like anybody else’s hazy pale ale
Single Speed Blonde with Jasmine - good and boring in a good way. light beer with a bit more flavor from the jasmine than a plain blonde
schla like shaft and fly like flee
Pale Ale - classic pale ale. no complaints
Just A Bit Hazy IPA - smooth and hazy. has a bit of lemon to it. dank smell but not so much in the taste. tastes like froot loops.
American Lager - this is when i decided i like a pilsner better than a lager. not bad just not my thing
Pumpkin Ale - pretty good. taste like fake pumpkin pie but i love fake pumpkin pie.
Mckenzie Hop Trial - unique flavor that i can’t place. hits you at the front and then finishes with not much flavor. i like it but don’t love it. front flavor is kind of smoky, malty, weird for an IPA
Dry Hopped Marietta Ave. Wine Barrel Aged Farmhouse Pale Ale with Amarillo Hops - i usually don’t like barrel-aged because it typically tastes too much like alcohol for me but i really enjoy this. tastes like wine and a sour and a slight hint of hops
Grisette Blend #6 Farmhouse Ale Aged in a Missouri Oak Foedre with Brettanomyces - pretty funky, really good. more sour than the last.
Parity Error American IPA brewing with tangerine and Caliente hops - it’s okay. nothing wrong with it but nothing amazing. flavor just feels a little flat but i like the touch of tangerine
Civil Life Brewing
American Pale Ale - good. tastes just like it should. their thing is maltier beers so not my fave but a good classic
Space Dream IPA - funky. not like super hoppy to me. definitely hazy but like a sour hazy. it’s like a hazy ipa and a smoothie sour had a baby. berry flavor.
Rockwell Beer Co.
Friend of Science Pale Ale - delicious. more flavor than i get in a lot of pale ales without the abv punch of an ipa. drinks really smooth
2nd Shift Brewing
Little Big Hop Session IPA - the name is perfect. only 4.9% abv but so much flavor. they added lactose which gives it a fuller mouthfeel which i like. a little orange flavor to it. i’m a big fan
Bless This Mess Golden Ale with Key Lime - good. no sourness to it which i like but super limey with a bit of the graham cracker finish that i always want in a key lime beer.
Masterly Pilsner German Pilsner - i was really hoping for crisp on this one and it’s just not there. not bad just missed the mark for me
Lookout Pale Ale - good but basic
High Tide Wheat - was hoping for a bit more fruit flavor but easy drinking
Giraffe Tropical Ale with Mango - yum. favorite. kinda sour, lots of mango
Stormin Norman Golden Ale - good. crushable
Waves Cider Co.
Alspaugh Orchard Blend - takes like apple juice with a little kick
Semi Dry - meh, too dry for me
Semi Sweet - yum, tastes like how i think a good cider should taste
Pineapple - favorite. I think they just make their semi sweet cider and add pineapple juice at some point but it tastes good to me