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The Best 5 Local Breweries in New England

The Best 5 Local Breweries in New England
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New England’s beer culture is as rich and robust as a dark, toasty stout. Our region boasts more than 100 breweries, so picking its five best beermakers poses a rather enjoyable challenge. Kerry J. Byrne, a food and beverage writer for the Boston Herald (and creator of, a site devoted to beer, food, and football), did the hard work of sampling.

Best Local Breweries in New England
Photo/Art by Heath Robbins
Best Local Breweries in New England.

Atlantic Brewing Company

A combination beer garden, smokehouse, and brewery tucked behind an unassuming white farmhouse on a leafy country road at the edge of stunning Acadia National Park. The beers are straight out of the old New England tradition: that is, British beer styles that often take advantage of American-grown malts, hops, and other native ingredients. Bar Harbor, ME;

Best brews: “Special Old Bitter Ale,” “Coal Porter,” and “Blueberry Ale,” made with wild Maine fruit.

Gritty McDuff’s

No trip to Maine is complete without a stop at one of these cozy and inviting brewery taverns. Auburn, Freeport, and Portland, ME;

Best brews: “Best Bitter” and “Black Fly Stout,” preferably served at one of the pubs via traditional hand-pull.

Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

Longtime New England brewer and Connecticut native Dann Paquette specializes in what he calls “American artisanal” styles: beers brewed in the rustic Belgian tradition, but with American malts and hops and our nation’s gift for style-bending creativity. Cambridge and Westport, MA;

Best brew: “Jack D’Or,” a domestic version of the saison-style farmhouse ales of Wallonia.

Boston Beer Company

Although its Samuel Adams Boston Lager is brewed mostly in Cincinnati, Ohio, Boston remains the corporate home of the largest American-owned beermaker. The firm’s small pilot brewery in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood–where brewers experiment with small-batch and vintage beer styles–is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations. Tasty test batches are served in the brewery’s two taprooms. Boston, MA;

Best brew: “Samuel Adams Utopias,” the world’s strongest commercial beer.

Smuttynose Brewing Co.

Named for Smuttynose Island, this maker produces year-round and seasonal beers that are sold up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest, plus a selection of limited-release brews for local markets. Portsmouth and Hampton, NH;

Best brew: “Finestkind IPA,” a generously hopped India pale ale and, in my opinion, the single best beer brewed in New England.

Updated Monday, December 15th, 2014

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