We love touring Brooklyn Brewery right here in Williamsburg, but several other of the country’s best small-batch beer-makers are worth a day trip. These four are easy to visit—even without a car. All you need is a ticket to ride.
• Beer lovers should toast the Little Beer Bus, which whisks drinkers straight to scenic Hudson Valley beer country—no designated driver required. On “Take Me to the Brewski” tours, riders hit three different breweries, leaf peeping all the while. The $140 package includes tastings, tours, snacks and lunch at a brewery, which might end with Mother’s Milk Stout brownies at Keegan Ales. The bus, which departs Midtown weekends at 9 a.m., brims with games, karaoke and beer trivia—though once you cross the GWB, we also recommend the view. Tania Dougherty, Hudson Valley native and enthusiastic CEO (her company also hosts winery tours) hopes to add a new stop this fall at a farm-to-bottle brewery that harvests their own hops. thelittlebeerbus.com
• Scott Vaccaro began making beer on his parents’ stove top as a teenager, so it’s no wonder his Captain Lawrence Brewery includes an “experimental brew house” for unique batches available exclusively on-site. A 45-minute Metro-North train ride from Grand Central and a quick taxi from the Mount Pleasant station, his newly expanded facility features a tasting room where serious beer geeks line up for award-winning brews. Bonus: free brewery tours on Saturdays, plus an outdoor patio where food truck fare is on offer and bocce tourneys are waged. captainlawrencebrewing.com
• Tucked into the quaint Hudson River town of Pearl River, New York, Defiant Brewing Company’s spacious tasting room is a paradise for laid-back suds fans. Chat with the brewmaster beside the tanks, or with knowledgeable servers who remember not just how the beers are made, but also your name. A PATH train to Hoboken and an hour aboard the Jersey Transit Spring Valley Line land you right at their door. We recommend Defiant’s signature Muddy Creek lager or the seasonal Abominable Snow Beer, plus the Ample Sampler ($25) of house-smoked salumi. defiantbrewing.com
• Michael Philbrick launched Port Jeff Brewing Company a block from the Long Island Sound last year. From a bar made of a boat, tapmasters serve pints like Port Jeff Porter, made with local organic honey. The microbrewery is open daily through fall and hosts free tours every Saturday, which is a fine time to explore the charming coastal town it calls home. Getting there: at Atlantic Terminal, board a Port Jefferson–bound LIRR train for a two-hour ride, then take a short taxi ride or a 20-minute stroll. portjeffbrewing.com