Best Place to Grab a Brew After a Day Outdoors

Kentucky has always been an outdoor lover’s paradise, a special place whose clear lakes, wooded trails, mysterious caves and mountain vistas have drawn explorers for centuries.
But the beautiful Bluegrass State is also quickly becoming one of the hottest spots for the coldest craft brews around. After a day working up a sweat in our great outdoors, belly up to the bar at these Kentucky brewpubs offering locally crafted beer to help quench your thirst.

North-Central Kentucky
Start your Kentucky beer-venture in the northern part of the state, where charming towns tucked along the Ohio River offer plenty of outdoor recreation, family attractions, diverse food and top-notch craft beer.
After exploring riverfront parks and trails around Bellevue, pop into Darkness Brewing, which specializes in dark, unusual and experimental beer styles for those up to trying new things. 
A little further inland, spend the afternoon boating or fishing at A.J. Jolly Park or along the Licking River before catching a pint (or two) at Alexandria Brewing Company, where the taproom always has customer favorites and rotating seasonals ready to pour.
Drive southwest on I-71 to Crestwood exit 14 heading toward Louisville, where you’ll first run into multiple attractions found in Only in Oldham County. As The Farm Tour Capital of Kentucky, Oldham is known for its unique outdoor antiques such as their 13 educational farm tours and castle at Yew Dell Botanical Gardens. In Crestwood on the same street as Yew Dell and Kentucky Artisan Distillery, you'll also find the largest cultivated beer garden in Kentucky - nine acres within the wisteria-covered greenhouses at 3rd Turn Oldham Gardens - home to 3rd Turn Brewing, Hive & Barrel Medley, and Backside Grill.

If your outdoor adventures take you to the heart of the bluegrass, start north of Lexington to enjoy miles of biking trails and watersports at Elkhorn Creek before visiting Country Boy Brewing in Georgetown, one of the fastest-growing regional craft beer distributors to hit the scene in recent years. Sip a flagship Cougar Bait American blonde ale or the Shotgun Wedding brown ale aged on vanilla beans.
Then take a leisurely journey through gorgeous horse farms on your way to Rooster Brewing in Paris, where locals gather to enjoy rotating taps and popular trivia game nights. A quick side-trip from Lexington, Winchester is home Lower Howard’s Creek Nature Preserve, a major outdoor draw, plus numerous other parks and nature preserves great for kayaking. After a day on the water, stop at Abettor Brewing to try the signature Pale8, an American pale ale hopped with citra and chinook hops, then spiked with a secret local ingredient. (Spoiler alert: It’s Ale-8-One, Kentucky’s famous ginger-citrus soft drink made right here in town!) 

South of Lexington, paddle through the dramatic Kentucky Palisades or explore seemingly endless hiking, biking and paddling trails – plus fishing and boating, too – on your way to Lemons Mill Brewery in Harrodsburg, home of the top-rated Mangonaros. a mango and habanero-spiced creation. Then hike the nearby Tom Dorman Nature Preserve and rest a spell at Gypsy Run Brewery in Danville, where a Bourbon Barrel Black IPA is the perfect way to cap off your day.
Western Kentucky
Along the Ohio River in Henderson you’ll discover the beauty and history of John James Audubon State Park and a wetlands boardwalk that takes you into the peaceful and sometimes haunting landscape of the Sloughs Wildlife Management Area. Soak up the flora and fauna of this unique ecosystem, then study the beer list at Henderson Brewing, a five-family-owned business whose beers are only offered in its local taproom.
Further west, Paducah is a riverfront town known for its internationally acclaimed arts and culture scene. But there’s plenty to see outdoors, too, thanks to local greenways, nature preserves and easy access to Kentucky Lake, Lake Barkley and the Land Between the Lakes area that connects them.

Paducah is a hot spot for great food and drink, too. Taste the local flavor at Paducah Beer Werks, which recently reopened a remodeled facility featuring production upgrades and expanded outdoor seating. Then pull up a barstool at Dry Ground Brewing Company, the city’s first, to hear the fascinating story of why it was built inside the former bottling plant where it now stands.
South-Central Kentucky
Head back east closer to Kentucky cave country and the nature preserves, state parks and underground wonders around Glasgow, where Yancey’s Gastropub & Brewery pours plenty of summer sippers to quench your thirst. But their signature brew may very well be the Brittle Stem Stout with a hint of oatmeal to give it a beautifully cured tobacco color.

Venture on to Flywheel Brewing in Elizabethtown, where a frosty pint in a cheerful spot offering a real neighborhood feel is the perfect way to cap off a day on the water or trails around Freeman Lake.
Further south near Lake Cumberland – a wonderland of watersports and the “Houseboating Capital of the World” – Jarfly Brewing Company in Somerset is ready to pour you beers that evoke the surrounding outdoor playground, like the crisp 76 Falls in honor of Cumberland Falls and the super-hopped Six Oh Six IPA named after the region’s area code.
Eastern Kentucky
Now make tracks to the eastern Kentucky town of Pikeville, an outdoor mecca known for great ziplines, padding, hiking, horseback riding, river tours and so, so much more. It’s easy to wear yourself out here, but be sure to save enough strength to hoist a pint at Dueling Barrels.
While “duel” in the name evokes the infamous Hatfield & McCoy feud, this is also the first “dual” brewery and distillery in the area, opening its doors in 2018. On the tap list are several Appalachian-inspired drafts, including a Hopfield & McCoy IPA and the Coal Porter.

Heading back north don’t miss Sawstone Brewing in Morehead, a Kentucky Trail Town at the northern terminus of the Sheltowee Trace Trail, where you can taste their first collaboration with Ewing, Kentucky’s Turtleback Ridge Brewing, the appropriately named All My Friends farmhouse saison brewed with local honey.
Just like this collaboration between two supportive Kentucky microbreweries, the Bluegrass State’s outdoors and craft beers go hand-in-hand. Or maybe glass-in-hand.

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