Sun, sand, and suds are an iconic combination. Here are 10 of America's top hops-loving spots by the sea.
By Joe Yogerst & Chris Hughes
1 of 10Photo: Courtesy of Coronado Brewing Company
Coronado Brewing Company
"Summer all year long" is the motto here. The brew pub exudes a Baja vibe of sun-baked bricks, glazed tiles, tropical plants, and serape-inspired booth benches. Coronado Brewing Company specializes in West Coast--style ales, but also produces pilsner, stout, and Belgian-style wheat beer. With its distinctive pine and citrus tones, Islander IPA is the brewery flagship, but the offbeat brews are no slouch. Black Sails Ale boasts a more spicy, roasted flavor. Watch your consumption of the chocolatey Stupid Stout, which has 9 percent alcohol by volume. (Mainstream beers run 4 to 6 percent ABV.) The menu also travels south of the border with dishes like carnitas (pork) quesadillas and green chili-jalapeño hummus.
2 of 10Photo: Michael Hanson
Half Moon Bay Brewing Co.
Half Moon Bay, California
Half Moon Bay is renowned for its gargantuan waves, its prize-winning pumpkins, and its waterfront brewery. The crowd at Half Moon Bay Brewing Co. is a mixed bag of surfers, farmers, urban hipsters, and Silicon Valley techies sipping the smooth and malty Mavericks Princeton-by-the-Sea IPA (made from seven different hops varieties); the crisp, clean Harbor Lights Ale; and other award-winning libations. The food is an upscale take on West Coast seaport grub—fisherman's stew, crab rolls, beer-steamed prawns. With its low, wood-beam ceiling, exposed pipes, and random surfboards, the decor channels a garage where California surf culture was born back in the 1950s and '60s. But the spot to hang is the huge (pet-friendly) patio.
3 of 10Photo: Courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats
Rehoboth Beach, Delaware
Dogfish Head began concocting incredible suds in 1995, when microbrewing was first taking off on the East Coast, and it became one of the first microbreweries to gain a national following. Its home base is a landmark along the main drag in Rehoboth Beach. While the beverage selection has matured since the early days—from brewing a single pale ale to 20 beer varieties plus several handcrafted spirits—the brewery retains its small-town ambience and neighborhood pub vibe. Canoes and wooden boats hang from the rafters, while the long, polished bar extends across the room like an old dock. Pale ale has always been Dogfish Head's strongest seller, personified by 90 Minute IPA and 60 Minute IPA; the names were derived from how long the ales are boiled to release their herbaceous character and hoppy flavor. Bonus: Dining here is an unexpected gourmet treat, with cumin lamb sliders and homemade chocolate cheesecake on the menu.
4 of 10Photo: Courtesy of A1A Ale Works
A1A Ale Works
St. Augustine, Florida
Tucked among the historic plazas of America's oldest city is A1A Ale Works, one of Florida's oldest breweries. Named after the nearby coast highway, A1A has a veranda overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway, an ideal spot to watch sailboats go by with a cold beer in hand. The pub's architecture and ambience—a Victorian-era building with wrought iron balconies flanked by swaying palms—is very Bourbon Street meets Key West. There are five flagship and two rotating beers on tap: King Street Light Lager is the perfect cool-down for a hot afternoon, while the full-bodied A. Strange Stout goes great with an evening meal. And dinner—Cuban pork tenderloin or savory shrimp and grits—awaits in the dining room upstairs.
5 of 10Courtesy of Rogue Ales Brewers
Rogue Ales Brewers on the Bay
Oregon is where it all started—the American craft beer revolution. Rogue has created more than 80 different ales over the past quarter century via a brewing process with no preservatives and all-natural ingredients including hops and malts grown in the Pacific Northwest. They range from craft brew legends such as the Hazelnut Brown Nectar (12-time gold medalist at the World Beer Championships) to off-the-wall creations like the aquarium beer series, with a crisp hint of juniper berry, dedicated to the bay's marine creatures. Literally in the shadow of the hulking Yaquina Bay Bridge, the joint has a rustic vibe—wooden paneling, old black-and-white photos, windows with views of the harbor. Forty taps dispense a wide variety of Rogue offerings, while the kitchen creates nouvelle Northwest dishes like a smoked salmon melt and oyster shooters.
6 of 10Photo: Boston Globe / Contributor / Getty
Dan Kenary and Rich Doyle’s legendary New England brewery offers some of the best sightseeing in Boston. Positioned on the Seaport District’s historic waterfront, guests at Harpoon are afforded a panoramic view of the skyline to partner with over a dozen different beers—including rarities from their 100 Barrel Series and a rotating cast of brewery-only exclusives. Take a seat inside Harpoon’s Bavarian-style beer hall and try newer offerings like their Hoppy Adventure double IPA or a seasonal cider to pair with a can’t-miss spent grain pretzel. Dipped in bacon ranch or Harpoon’s house-made IPA beer cheese, those warm, doughy knots become a transcendent bar snack.
7 of 10Photo: Courtesy of Allagash Brewing Company
Allagash Brewing Company
Over two decades after Rob Tod brought his flagship witbier, Allagash White, to the masses, the Portland icon continues to captivate adventurous palates. Alongside Allagash Brewing Company brewmaster, Jason Perkins, Tod has made saisons sexy, brettanomyces (a wild yeast that imparts funky, tart flavors) de regueur, and barrel-aging a craft standard. But it’s not just all high-octane tripels (Curieux) and barnyard-y brews (Coolship series), Allagash also excels at everyday sippers like their Hoppy Table Beer, a low-ABV session ale brewed with Chinook, Cascade, Comet, and Azacca hops.
8 of 10Photo: Courtesy of Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens - Liberty Station
San Diego, California
Clearly Greg Koch’s ambitions are his bold as his beers. With locations now in Escondido, the San Diego airport, and even Berlin, Germany, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens has become the envy of the entrepreneurial-minded craft world. But we still have a soft spot for Koch’s original bistro and beer garden, situated inside a former navy mess hall. Who could resist Liberty Station’s outdoor bocce ball courts and a garden space big enough to host regular outdoor movie screenings? Or the massive farm-to-table restaurant, which offers Stone’s full range of hop-forward offerings alongside chef Thomas Connolly’s yellowfin poke tacos, pork belly steamed buns, and his swoon-worthy yakisoba bowl with Jidori chicken.
9 of 10Photo: Jeremy Lindberg
Maine Beer Company
Attorney turned hop whisperer, Daniel Kleban, has had a tremendous impact on the Maine craft beer scene since he first started brewing one-barrel batches of his MO and Peeper pale ales inside Portland’s One Industrial Way circa 2009. Not only has that original space been turned into a craft beer incubator for influential brands such as Bissell Brothers (since moved to Thompson’s Point) and Foundation Brewing, but his legacy of envelope-pushing IPAs (Lunch and Dinner) have become standard-bearers for his many successors. Recently, Kleban unveiled plans to quadruple Maine Beer Company's current facility in Freeport to accommodate an expanded tasting room, develop an outdoor seating area complete with food trucks, and most importantly, add tanks in order to brew more of his coveted suds.
10 of 10Photo: Robert Donovan
Coast Brewing Co.
Charleston, South Carolina
At this laidback, North Charleston brewery, husband-and-wife team David Merritt and Jaime Tenny have created a crowd-pleasing neighborhood watering hole in the town’s former naval yard. While sampling Coast Brewing Co.'s excellent kölsch (32/50), practice your putting skills on a disc golf basket or play a little corn hole while partaking of their highly sought after Boy King, a resinous double IPA. Food trucks like Big Boned BBQ provide great grub at night, bands can often be found playing on the outside lawn, and dogs are always a welcome sight.