20 of the Oldest Breweries in America
In 1873, there were more than 4,000 breweries in the United States. That number dropped to zero with the arrival of Prohibition in 1920, and although a handful survived the Volstead Act, there were fewer than 300 in the entire country for most of the 20th century. Today, the industry has bounced back -- to more than 5,300 breweries. Still, if they were people, the oldest breweries in most states would hardly be old enough to buy a beer. Here are 20 that likely wouldn't have to show ID.
Related: The Oldest Eateries in All 50 States
One of the best-known brewers in the world, Samuel Adams gives a tour every 40 minutes. The hourlong tours are free, although a $2 donation for charity is suggested. The brewery is a lab of experimentation where every beer in the line was created -- except the original (and one seasonal batch), which was concocted in the founder's kitchen even further back, in 1984.
City: Juneau, Alaska
It may be hard to believe, but one of the oldest breweries in the United States was born the same year as the Olsen twins. The Alaskan Brewing Co. began in a 2,000-square-foot facility shared with an indoor driving range. Today, it bottles suds in a 47,000-square-foot home of its own. "Tutored tastings" are $5.
City: Amana, Iowa
Just over a century passed between Amana breweries, but three men succeeded in reviving an Iowan tradition and stuck with it for 15 years before selling to a new trio. The current owners took it a step further, opening an authentic German bierhalle, the Millstream Brau Haus, in 2016.
City: Portland, Oregon
Bridgeport Brewing creates craft beers such as its Original IPA, Kingpin, Stumptown IPA, Tiny Horse Pilsner, and Cream Ale. Formerly a rope factory, the brewery pumped out 600 barrels its first year. That number has climbed to more than 100,000 barrels annually.
City: Portland, Maine
The self-proclaimed first craft brewery in New England, D.L. Geary borrows from British tradition. When the company incorporated, there were only 13 microbreweries in the entire United States. Today, visitors can tour Maine's oldest brewery -- and sample some beer fresh from the tap -- Thursday to Monday.
City: Woodinville, Washington
The Red Hook Brewpub features 24 drafts on tap, including some brewery exclusives, and visitors can get an hourlong guided tour ($5) of what has grown from a modest Seattle transmissions shop, with tastes along the way.
City: Krebs, Oklahoma
Choc Beer has nothing to do with chocolate; the name is short for Choctaw Indian Beer. Oklahoma was a Prohibition state upon entering the Union in 1907, and the state's trade in illegal liquor -- often called Choc beer -- flourished until legalized booze was finally voted in.
City: San Francisco
Promoting itself as "America's first and oldest craft brewery," Anchor brews and bottles every beer, including its trademark Anchor Steam, in the same location. The oldest brewery in California prides itself on combining generations-old traditional copper brewing tools with state-of-the-art quality control.
City: San Antonio
The Lone Star Brewery was created by legendary beer baron Adolphus Busch. Lone Star closed for Prohibition, reopened in 1933, and was christened the "National Beer of Texas" in 1940. In 1965, the brewery helped Texas emerge as a true beer state when it began making more than 1 million barrels a year.
City: Rochester, New York
Home to the original Genesee, Genny Light, and Genesee Cream Ale, the Genesee Brewery shut down during Prohibition as brewmaster Louis A. Wehle turned baker -- then back again as soon as he legally could. The site includes an outdoor area with dozens of massive tanks, including 22 that can hold a full 9,000 barrels of beer.
City: Golden, Colorado
Every drop of Coors Banquet beer is brewed in the same location where Adolph Coors began his operations in 1873 -- now the largest single-site brewery on the planet. Visitors are welcome to take a free 30-minute tour showing the process from start to finish, ending in a cold, tap-fresh sample beer.
City: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
The Leinenkugel brand has remained in the family for six generations, since Jacob Leinenkugel and John Miller began operations 150 years ago. Today, visitors are welcome to tour the working brewery for fees starting at $5, which includes five 5-ounce samples and a taster glass.
City: Frankenmuth, Michigan
The state's first craft brewer has stood in its original location since it was founded during the Civil War. Visitors are invited seven days a week to check out the Gold Medal Taproom, where they can try 21 draft beers from a selection of 36 craft brews rotated throughout the year.
City: New Ulm, Minnesota
Schell's Brewery dates back to the year Lincoln was elected and the Pony Express began delivering mail. The company's philosophy remains "the world can never have enough beer," and it has lived up to that credo by bottling more than 100 varieties. Visitors can tour the brewery for $5.
City: Stevens Point, Wisconsin
Billing itself as the "the third-oldest continuously operating, privately owned brewery in the United States," Stevens Point lets visitors sample not only the latest Point craft beers, but also Ciderboys Hard Cider and gourmet sodas on hourlong tours costing $5 for adults and $3 for kids 5 to 11. Younger children get in free.
City: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
The original Miller brewery boasts an all-star German lineage that involves the Miller, Coors, and Leinenkugel families. The brewery offers a free, one-hour tour that includes a walk through the legendary Miller Caves, as well as a video depiction of Frederick Miller's arrival in Wisconsin and a display of modern brewing techniques.
City: St. Louis
The oldest and largest Anheuser-Busch brewery in the country, the St. Louis location is home to three National Historic Landmarks. The site was chosen for its proximity to the Mississippi River, as well as its massive population of German immigrants and location near caves that served as refrigerators before mechanized cooling. Tours are available on most days excluding holidays.
City: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Jacob Best's brewery churned out 300 barrels of beer during its inaugural year, 1848, and took another big step in 1882: tying iconic blue ribbons around the beers that won awards. Today, Pabst has more than two dozen brands under its umbrella, including classics such as Old Milwaukee, Colt 45, and, of course, Pabst Blue Ribbon. Tours are $8 for adults.
City: Monroe, Wisconsin
Minhas, brewer of Boxer Lager, boasts of being very old yet having "the youngest craft brewery owners in the world" when they purchased company in 2006 (as well as being very large -- the ninth-largest brewery by volume in America as of 2015, according to the Brewers Association). Tours cost $12 and include the brewery, a massive museum, and a look at ancient brewing and distilling techniques.
City: Pottsville, Pennsylvania
America's oldest brewery began making only 600 barrels a year in the days of hand-hewn fermentation caves, before mechanized refrigeration. Now it operates below capacity, letting other Yuengling sites do the heavy lifting while it welcomes tourists -- showing them not just the caves and brewery but also the creamery built in 1920 as Prohibition went into effect. The hour-plus tours are free.