MILWAUKEE, Wis. ( TheStreet) -- Beer as a vacation is usually a bad idea that warrants an intervention, but American craft brewers have managed to make their brews and breweries worthy of a trip.
Craft brewing grew 11% by volume and 12% in sales to $7.6 billion last year, according to the Brewers Association.More than 1,750 breweries operated for some or all of that year, giving the U.S. its largest pool of breweries since the late 1800s. Paul Gatza, director of the Brewers Association, estimates that the majority of Americans live less than 10 miles from a brewery. Why not call a cab and take a tour?
In many cases, a craft brewery opens its tours to the public either for free or for less than the cost of a pint at a local pub. When it's free, that usually means free beer, but even when a visitor pays it usually means they're going home with a glass or some other knickknack along with some free beer for their troubles.
It's a growing field, too, as last year 55 brewpubs and 97 microbreweries opened for business. Existing craft brewers are also getting bigger, with Yuengling (6.6%), Samuel Adams (11.8%) and North American Brewing (owner of Magic Hat, Anchor Brewing and Gennessee -- 6.8%) all experiencing growth last year.With lots of options to choose from and only a few summer months to work with, TheStreet narrowed down its craft beer travel guide to a 10-pack of must-see destinations. Enjoy responsibly: