10 great breweries where the scenery’s as good as the beer

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With the explosion of craft breweries, good beer is more accessible than ever. But some places are worth an extra trip just for the scenery. “There’s a huge variety of beer experiences all over the world,” says Robin Barton, who helped produce the new book Lonely Planet’s Global Beer Tour (Lonely Planet, $19.99). “With few exceptions, you’re never far from a beer wherever you are.” He shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg for USA TODAY.

Wicked Weed Brewing
Asheville, N.C.

Outdoorsy and artsy, Asheville is a natural for beer lovers: The city claims to have the most breweries per capita in the nation. Barton singles out Wicked Weed, which offers visitors dozens of proprietary draft beers. A second location a few blocks away focuses on barrel-aged sour beers. “It’s a handsome brewery with slightly raw fixtures and fittings in a great mountain town.” wickedweedbrewing.com

PFriem Family Brewers
Hood River, Ore.

Not only can you find European-style brews in southern Oregon, but also a laid-back place to enjoy them. PFriem, located near the Colombia River Gorge Natural Scenic Area, has a patio with fire pit and sits across the street from a waterfront park. “There’s a big windsurfing scene, and it’s also known for great cycling and hiking,” Barton says. “It’s a refreshing outdoorsy spot to explore some very serious and highly regarded Belgian beer.” pfriembeer.com

Bissell Brothers
Portland, Maine

While its location on a Fore River point is notable, Barton is also impressed by the interior of this brewery. “It’s a huge airy taproom with very high ceilings, street-art murals on the inside and industrial beams,” he says. There are also outdoor areas for food trucks and picnic tables. “It’s a nice place to be inside and outside.”  bissellbrothers.com

Ballast Point Brewing Co.
San Diego

Based in San Diego’s lively Little Italy, this spot has an ideal setting just a few blocks from the waterfront. “It’s got a very appealing street-side location in a pretty neighborhood, just north of downtown,” says Barton, who once lived in the area. It also turns out great brews. “It’s very much an incubator in beer talent.” ballastpoint.com

Hook Norton Brewery
Hook Norton, England

With steam-powered machinery and shire horses delivering beer to local pubs, this brewery seems to be lifted from the Victorian era. Dating to the 1850s, the equipment uses gravity, instead of a pump, to move water and beer around the building. “It makes some very classic British beers,” says Barton, who used to visit when he was a university student in nearby Oxford. “You can sit outside in a rural country pub, and have a few pints.” hooky.co.uk

Meander River Farm and Brewery
Canada

This cottage brewery in Nova Scotia has made its name for country-style beer-making. “It’s a very idyllic farm with red roof barns and a hop garden — a sustainable, holistic approach to brewing,” Barton says. The family-owned enterprise also grows lavender and fresh-cut flowers, and raises livestock. meanderriverfarm.ca

Pilsner Urquell
Czech Republic

Beer lovers know this storied brewery for its golden lager, but others will just enjoy the setting, with a double-arched front gate and 175-year-old limestone cellars lined with barrels and copper kettles. “You can tell from the grandeur that this is a very historic place, a venue that produces a global beer,” Barton says. pilsnerurquell.com

4 Pines Brewing Company
Sydney

Even the trip to this brewery is memorable: a ferry ride from downtown Sydney, passing the Opera House and Harbour Bridge before tying up on Manly Beach, just outside its front door. “It’s right on a sandy crescent beach with warm water and a row of tall pine trees. It’s a classic Sydney beer experience,” Barton says. 4pinesbeer.com.au

Brassneck Brewery
Vancouver, Canada

This Pacific city’s celebrated for its grand mountain and ocean views, but it also has cozy neighborhoods like Mount Pleasant, home to a small-batch brewery. Founded by a British ex-pat, it features a busy, rustic tasting room lined with scrap wood. brassneck.ca

LeVeL33
Singapore

Breweries aren’t limited to ancient abbeys or bustling entertainment districts. This Asian beer-maker has set up shop in the penthouse on the 33rd floor of a financial tower, offering visitors sweeping city and bay views. “You’re in one of the world’s most futuristic cities,” Barton says. And the brews are worthwhile too. “There’s a good blond lager and all sorts of other beers to try.” LeVeL33.com.sg