District Chophouse & Brewery
Washington, DC, 202-347-3434
Why: The Chophouse is part of the Rock Bottom chain, and as much upscale steakhouse as brewery. But that doesn’t mean that Jason Dorpinghaus makes the exact same beers as every other Rock Bottom brewery. The hefeweizen has a sharp clove element and little patronizing banana, for instance.
Beer to try: The bourbon stout on the hand pump. If that’s not available, try the oatmeal stout.
Great Lakes Brewing
Cleveland, OH, 216-771-4404
Why: The brewery is located in six buildings, three of which were originally constructed as stables and warehouse facilities for the Schlather Brewing Co., and the facility is just stunning (lots of large glistening tanks). But go to find out about the Zero Waste Initiatives. Local growers of organic produce use spent grain, yeast and hops from the brewery to produce vegetables and fruits, for instance, and the bottling line recycles water for final bottle rinsing.
Beer to try: It’s hard to resist the lagers at Great Lakes (because there are fewer great lagers around), but we have to go with the Edmund Fitzgerald Porter.
Boscos Nashville Brewing Co.
Nashville, TN, 615-385-0050
Why: Boscos also operates brewpubs in Little Rock and Memphis, but there is nothing chainlike about them—this is a neighborhood hangout with plenty of regulars. Brewer Fred Scheer is a fully trained German brewer with a master’s degree in brewing and malting from Doeman Academy. Yet his English-influenced ales (Boscos regularly serves cask-conditioned beer) show the same distinctively American bent as founding brewer Chuck Skypeck.
Beer to try: Boscos Bombay IPA, even though it is hard to resist the Flaming Stone Beer that Skypeck made (relatively) famous.
Stone City Brewing
Solon, IA, 319- 624-1360
Why: Only the tax determination tank, the heat exchanger and the bottling and kegging apparatuses are equipment originally meant for a brewery, and they were purchased used. Dairy tanks, bought through a dealer, are at the heart of the 16-barrel system. They are fired by burners acquired for as little at $1 each in local junkyards. The tasting room was put together by hand, and brewer Jeff Allen crafted its centerpiece—a beautiful stained-glass window of cattails.
Beer to try: Artist Colony Ale, named for painter Grant Wood’s old art colony in Stone City up the road.