New Ulm, MN, 800-770-5020 (for tours)
Why: Schell’s history dates back to 1860, and it’s on display everywhere. The venerable brick brewery has its own gardens, complete with beer-friendly gnomes. A separate museum is jammed with Schell’s items from well before Prohibition. The brewery tours costs $2. There is no charge of admission to the museum.
Beer to try: Schell Bock. That gives you an excuse to visit for Bock Fest (March 1, 2003), an event complete with bonfires and the traditional Bock Hunt (for Bock cutouts hidden in the surrounding woods).
Red Rock Brewing Co.
Salt Lake City, UT, 801-521-7446
Why: Located in a converted warehouse, Red Rock looks like an awful lot of the other brewpubs opened in the mid-1990s. What makes it different is Utah’s restrictions on the alcohol content of its beer (3.2 percent by weight, about 4 percent by volume). Despite the laws, Utah breweries—including Red Rock—consistently produce beers that win medals against international competition, proving there’s more to making interesting beer than packing in extra alcohol.
Beer to try: Spalty Alt. As convincingly hoppy and smooth as a German alt should be.
Troutdale, OR, 503-492-4636
Why: The showcase spot in the McMenamins empire of breweries and pubs across Oregon and Washington. Explore whatever you want on this 38-acre estate—the 23-barrel brewery, the distillery or the winery for starters—but be sure to take the tour that includes the funky murals and other artwork added to the poor farm turned into upscale lodge.
Beer to try: Terminator Stout.
Boonville, CA, 707-895-2337
Why: Founder Ken Allen likes to describe the brewery as one of the most international in the world, with equipment from the Dominican Republic, the former East Germany, Italy and Canada. Included are parts from two German breweries, but those copper vessels now make ales. The setting in Mendocino County is as pretty as the images on the labels, and there’s the opportunity to learn the 1800s lingo of Boontling (for instance: bahl hornin’ means good drinking).
Beer to try: Hop Ottin’ IPA. In Boontling, ottin’ means working hard.