10 of the Oldest Breweries in America
Craft breweries aren’t something that just sprang up with millennials. In fact, there were more than 4,000 U.S. breweries in existence as early as 1873, Of course, many went belly-up in 1920 when Prohibition rolled in, and for most of the 20th century the U.S. had fewer than 300.
The industry has bounced back in a big way — you can even take a craft beer destination vacation — and today the U.S. boasts more than 5,300 breweries. Find out which of those are the country’s 10 oldest and see if you recognize any — if you drink beer, chances are you will. Plus, discover which 1 Midwestern state is home to 5 out of 10 of the breweries on the list.
Location: Pottsville, Pennsylvania
According to the website Cheapism, America’s oldest brewery is Yuengling. When the brewery was founded, it made only 600 barrels a year — at that time, people were using fermentation caves, which were popular before mechanized refrigeration came into being.
Today, the brewery is more of a tourist stop than a functioning brewery — it operates below capacity, while its other sites do the heavy lifting. There, you can take a free tour of the caves, brewery, and the creamery Yuengling built when Prohibition went into effect.
Next: Old brewery, young owners
2. Minhas Craft Brewery
Location: Monroe, Wisconsin
In 2006, young owners bought the old Minhas Brewery, which brews Boxer Lager. According to Cheapism, as of 2015, the Brewers Association named it the ninth-largest brewery by volume in America as of 2015. You can tour the brewery and museum — which shows old brewing and distilling techniques — for just $12.
Next: Here’s a name you’ll recognize.
3. Pabst Brewing
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Owned by Jacob Best, Pabst made 300 barrels of beer in its first year, and in 1882 it started putting blue ribbons on the award-winning beers, according to Cheapism. Today, Pabst boasts more than 24 brands, including Colt 45, Old Milwaukee, and, of course, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Adults can take a tour of the place for only $8.
Next: Another familiar name
Location: St. Louis
St. Louis is home to the largest — and oldest — Anheuser-Busch brewery in the U.S., according to Cheapism. Founders chose St. Louis because it is close to the Mississippi River and also near caves they could use to keep the beer cold. The founders also chose it because of the massive German immigrant population in St. Louis, who were known for loving good beer. You can take a free tour on most days, but it is closed on holidays, so either check online or call ahead before you visit.
Next: An all-star German lineage
5. Frederick Miller’s Plank Road Brewery
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
According to Cheapism, this was the original Miller brewery, and it comes with German lineage that includes the Miller, Coors, and Leinenkugel families. You can take a one-hour tour for free here, and you’ll get to walk through the Miller Caves. In addition, you can watch a video that shows how modern brewing techniques work and explores Frederick Miller’s arrival in Wisconsin.
Next: Free samples — yes, please
6. Stevens Point Brewery
Location: Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Stevens Point Brewery calls itself “the third-oldest continuously operating, privately-owned brewery in the United States,” according to Cheapism. When you take a tour, you’ll not only get to see where the magic happens, you’ll be able to sample the latest Point craft beers in addition to Ciderboys Hard Cider and gourmet sodas. The tour is $5 for those who are 12 and older, $3 for kids for those who are from 5 to 11, and free for kids under 5.
Next: This brewery was founded the year Lincoln was elected.
Location: New Ulm, Minnesota
What was happening in 1860? Abraham Lincoln was elected president, South Carolina succeeded from the Union, the Pony Express started delivering mail, and … Schell’s Brewery was founded. Schell’s philosophy is “the world can never have enough beer,” and if you’re reading this article, you likely agree. The company has bottled more than 100 varieties of beer, so it truly has something for everyone. You can tour the premises for $5, according to Cheapism.
Next: 36 craft brews
8. Frankenmuth Brewery
Location: Frankenmuth, Michigan
Frankenmuth was Michigan’s first craft brewer, according to Cheapism, and it remains in the original location since it was founded during Civil War. The Gold Medal Taproom is open seven days a week, and there you can try can try 21 draft beers from a selection of 36 craft brews the company rotates. You might not want to try all 21, particularly if you’re driving.
Next: 36 craft brews
Location: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Owned by the family for six generations, Jacob Leinenkugel and John Miller opened its doors 150 years ago, according to Cheapism. Leinenkugel’s offers a wide selection of brews in addition to seasonal specials and a number of shandies — beer mixed with a non-alcoholic drink, such as lemonade. You can tour the working brewery for $10, which will gain you admittance and either two 12-ounce beers and a complimentary glass or five 5-ounce samples and a complimentary glass.
Next: An American staple
10. Coors Brewing
Location: Golden, Colorado
Adolph Coors founded Coors Brewing in 1873 and to this day, all Coors Banquet beer is brewed there, according to Cheapism. It is now the largest single-site brewery on the planet, and you can take a free 30-minute tour of it and see the process from start to finish. At the end, you’ll get a cold, tap-fresh sample beer.
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