Craft brewing is not only a huge part of New York’s history but an important part of its present as well. Brewers increasingly draw on ingredients, from hops to seasonal fruits, which showcase New York flavor and creativity. Even better, nearly every spot on this list serves delicious beer-compatible local bites to pair with a pint. Read on for 11 of the best brewery experiences across the state, and remember to stay as local as possible when traveling. Remember to social distance and wear a mask as required by state guidelines. Call ahead and check websites and social media to make sure attractions are open and available. Be advised that New York has a travel advisory in effect.
1. Brewery Ommegang, Cooperstown (Central NY)
Ommegang is a BIG name in the craft brewery scene. You can find cans and bottles of its Belgian-inspired specialty and seasonal ales in most high-end beer shops. It’s been brewing since 1997 on a 136-acre farmstead in Cooperstown. Tours and tastings are temporarily suspended, but the Tap House and mercantile are open with limited hours. As for its beers, don’t miss the classic “Hennepin,” Ommegang’s farmhouse Saison, the Hopstate IPA, grown with New York hops, or consider one of its more inventive limited editions. The brewery is also known for its special Game of Thrones-themed brews—try "For the Throne," a golden ale co-fermented with Pinot Grigio and Viognier grape juices. We think John Snow would approve!
2. Greenport Harbor Brewing Company, Greenport/Peconic (Long Island)
Credit: Liz BanField
The Greenport Harbor Brewing Company has two locations on Long Island, one in Greenport and another larger one in Peconic; both offer an amazing atmosphere and even better beer. To start, the Peconic brewery can be described as a beer drinker’s haven, with an enormous lawn where you’ll find Adirondack chairs, outdoor games like cornhole and giant Jenga, dogs of patrons, and often live music. It’s also got a fantastic restaurant serving up locally sourced dishes that pair perfectly with Greenport Harbor Brewing Company's beer. The menu is ever-changing so you have a reason to visit time and time again! A bit further east on the North Fork at the Greenport location, you’ll find a cozier atmosphere inside the firehouse-turned-brewery. In the second-floor tasting room, try a pint or two of the rotating taps or the tasting flight.
3. Druthers Brewing, Albany (Capital-Saratoga)
Druthers Brewing is another microbrewery that has several locations, blessing the Capital-Saratoga region with excellent beer in Albany (with a state-of-the-art filler visible from the restaurant), Saratoga Springs, and Schenectady. The man behind the beer is Druthers' master brewer, George de Piro, who has won three gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival, and three medals at the World Beer Cup. Each location’s food menu varies slightly, though all three share items in common, like the drool-worthy beer cheese dip made of three cheeses, hop butter, and beer served with pretzel bites, and wood-fired pizza with house-made sauces. Beer and homemade pizza? Name a better duo—we’ll wait.
4. Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Lake Placid (Adirondacks)
Credit: LPP & B
The Lake Placid Pub & Brewery has twice been voted Best Brewery in New York State at the TAP-NY Brewery Festival, and its flagship “Ubu Ale” microbrew (named, adorably, after a regular customer’s chocolate lab) has swept up awards right and left almost every year for more than a decade. The beer picked up notice ever since some White House interns bought it for then-President Clinton, who liked it so much he ordered three cases! You can try the Ubu and other beers on tap, as well as tasty pub fare like nachos, wings, pizza, and even ribs at the three-story bar/restaurant (currently only open for outdoor seating and to-go orders). The third floor, dubbed “The Hop Loft,” has a gorgeous view overlooking Mirror Lake.
5. Catskill Brewery, Livingston Manor (Catskills)
The only thing better than a sip of one of Catskill Brewery’s refreshing beers is knowing that by imbibing you’re actually supporting a mission of sustainability. The brewery is Gold LEED-certified, which means it’s powered by solar and natural energy, and anything that can be recycled, reused, and re-purposed, is. Currently, beer is available in the beer garden or to-go only. As for the beer itself, it's brewed with pure Catskill Mountain water and natural (mostly local) ingredients. You can check the brewery’s website in advance to see what’s on tap.
6. Hudson Valley Brewery, Beacon (Hudson Valley)
Welcome home, sour-beer-lovers. Hudson Valley Brewery has a very large range of perfectly tart sour beers, which can sometimes be hard to find. The folks here age their wild ales between four and 14 months before blending them with younger saisons. All that extra time spent aging (as opposed to only a few months) gives the beer a tannic complexity. Plus, the owners use a special bacteria and yeast culture that they’ve cultivated since before they opened shop. (FYI they have excellent non-sours as well!) Also, they’re located right in the heart of Beacon, which means that fun activities nearby, like Dia:Beacon and gorgeous hiking are at your fingertips. The brewery's taproom and patio are temporarily closed; all beer must be ordered in advance for pickup using this online form.
7. Ithaca Beer Company, Ithaca (Finger Lakes)
Credit: Ithaca Beer Company
The Ithaca Beer Company stays true to the innovative spirit it had as a tiny seven-barrel brewhouse, even though today it brews about 25,000 barrels of beer a year, including several IPAs and a double IPA. The "Nut Brown" ale is wonderfully rich and the “Apricot Wheat” beer is sure to please the hop-averse beer drinkers. The bottles, as well as small-batch brews, are delightful to drink in the enormous outdoor beer garden, which is currently available for first-come, first-served seating (with no table service). The indoor taproom is temporarily closed but the restaurant's menu is available for to-go dining, and includes comfort food favorites like pizza and fries. As a tribute to the region, the foods focus heavily on local ingredients straight from the on-site farm or local suppliers throughout the Finger Lakes.
8. Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn (New York City)
Duck into any bar (or beer shop or supermarket) and odds are you’ll see the classic green Brooklyn Brewery lager logo, designed by Milton Glaser, who also gave us I LOVE NY! The lager itself, brewed under the guidance of brewmaster Garrett Oliver, was actually created as a throwback to the 19th-century era when Brooklyn was the country’s brewing hub and Vienna-style lager was the local favorite. Oliver has expanded the Brooklyn Brewery lineup to include many cutting-edge, award-winning styles, and while the popular brewery tours are temporarily suspended, you can still visit the tasting room to pick up bottles and cans to go—as well as merchandise featuring the famed logo!
9. Big Ditch Brewing Company, Buffalo (Greater Niagara)
The name “Big Ditch” comes from a place of deep love and pride for the city of Buffalo. The story goes like this. In 1825, New York Governor DeWitt Clinton opened the Erie Canal, a project he had championed, connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. It was thought a doomed venture, and thus nicknamed “Clinton’s Big Ditch”—but the haters were proven wrong! Once it was completed it was an immediate success and turned the city into a thriving trading port. So the folks at Big Ditch Brewing pay homage to those who changed the course of Buffalo history, with both their name and with their top-notch brew. Visit the Tap Room, a massive two-level restaurant that offers beer paired with great food. For example, they have a Breuben sandwich, made of corned beef brined in “Excavator Rye Brown Ale,” or chicken wings coated in “Hayburner IPA” wing sauce. For beers, try the signature IPA, golden ale, and rye brown ale, as well as seasonals. As the weather cools down, go for special beers like “Cinnamon Apple” amber ale, and “Fresh Baked,” a winter ale brewed with chocolate malt, English brown malt, and oats that tastes a bit like oatmeal cookies. What’s not to love?
10. Skewed Brewing, Lowville (Adirondacks)
Skewed Brewing's original location inside the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown is closed, but the brewery is operating out of its newer facility in Lowville, where a beer garden is open on select weekends (check social media for up-to-date information). As for the beer, Skewed is best known for its Disco Mom IPA, a light, crisp ale, and Oo-op Drop, a classic New England–style IPA. Skewed offers session beers, including a pineapple hefeweizen, and gose sour ales as well.
11. Ellicottville Brewing, Ellicottville/Fredonia/Bemus Point/Little Valley (Chautauqua-Allegheny)
Ellicottville Brewing is a microbrewery (a really large one) with four locations. Their Bemus Point and Ellicottville brewpubs are now open for dining with social distancing restrictions, offering what it calls "Fresh, American-forward cuisine" including crowd-pleasers like brewer tots (house-made pulled pork over tater tots), salads and burgers, and regional favorites like beef on weck. The food is a main draw, but so is the beer of course, including Ellicottville Brewing's “Everyday Series,” with classics like blueberry wheat ale and “Keepin’ It Peel” Citrus IPA, among other seasonal brews. The imperial series is where the flavors get even more interesting, with inventions like the Caramel Apple Cuvée and the Chocolate Cherry Bomb Stout.