Hawaii's built up more than its share of craft breweries and brewpubs, but tourists still have to get away from Oahu to find the best on the islands. Kona Brewing got its start in 1998 and has stuck to the same relatively small town on the west side of the big island. While folks on the mainland have been getting a taste of Kona's Longboard Lager, Pipeline Porter and Wailua Wheat courtesy of the Craft Brewers Alliance and its distribution deal with Anheuser-Busch InBev, brews such as Duke's Blonde Ale, Hula Hefeweizen and Castaway IPA are available only on Kona's taps. While the brewery does have a small pub on Oahu, the 2,000-square-foot outdoor lanai in Kailua Kona is perhaps the best place to enjoy the scenery, a pork sandwich, some fish tacos and a Lava Man Red Ale.
Salmon River Brewery
Whether you're visiting in the summer or fall for a dip in Payette Lake and a hike around Ponderosa State Park or in winter to hit the slopes, Salmon River should be any beer lover's last stop after a day in McCall. This small, lodge-style spot by the Salmon River gives tourists plenty of live music, happy hour specials and elk burgers to liven up their trip, but bold rotating brews such as the 6.2% ABV Chunder Chocolate Stout, 7.5% ABV Big Double IPA and 9.1% ABV Terra Incognita Barley Wine make them stick around a while -- if only to work them off. Even if none of those are on tap, flagship beers such as the Buzz Buzz Coffee Porter used in the brewpub's chocolate cake are consistent favorites among locals and newcomers alike.
A tough call in a city that's also home to Goose Island, Local Option and Haymarket Pub and Brewery and a state that's produced heavy hitters such as Lunar Brewing in Villa Park and Flossmoor Station in Flossmoor, but this Logan Square brewpub is destination dining and drinking. Beer lovers who etch Wrigley Field or Millennium Park onto their Chicago itinerary would do well to also seek out solid selections such as the hoppy Iron Fist American Pale Ale, its even more pungent Anti-Hero IPA and the heavy, smoky 7% ABV Eugene porter. The menu's no slouch, either, with selections ranging from bacon fat popcorn and wild boar meatball appetizers to pork belly and egg sandwiches and pale ale-battered fish and chips.
Three Floyds Brewing & Brewpub
Though Indianapolis has built a strong brewing culture of its own thanks to brewpubs such as Triton and Sun King, Three Floyds is where the Indiana brewing and brewpub discussion begins and ends. The tattoo-style artwork on the bottles, the creative and potent brews such as its Alpha King American Pale Ale, Gumballhead wheat beer and Robert The Bruce Scottish ale and the absolute frenzy and lines for the release of its Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout each April (on a day more commonly known as Dark Lord Day) give beer pilgrims more than enough reason to visit the brewpub. When the facility is as small and packed as Three Floyds tends to be, though, vittles such as barbecue jerky, beer-and-meat pairings and Moloko milk stout ice cream help quell the madding crowds a bit.
Court Avenue Brewing
Des Moines, Iowa
Here's the problem with Iowa: Most of its best breweries either don't have a brewpub, brew their pub's beer offsite or are part of the Rock Bottom and Granite City chains. Court Avenue is one of the few exceptions and makes the most of it by turning its spent grain into pretzels, brewing root and ginger beer for nondrinkers and kids and labeling each of its brews with labels used by Iowa brewers beforeProhibition. The brewpub's "Root Down" root beer and Jaegermeister drinks are a bit ominous, but batches such as the 6.7% ABV 21st Amendment American Pale Ale, the citrusy 6.6% ABV Honest Lawyer IPA and malty, mellow brews such as Pointer Brown Ale and Blackhawk Stout flow freely from the gavel-handled taps during happy hour and out of casks on Monday's "Firkin Steak Night."