These breweries draw on area flavors to inspire meals, beers or brew names.
Founders Brewing Company Peanut shells litter the floor of this Grand Rapids, Michigan, brewpub, where the vibe leans toward casual bar, not polished pub. Sample the popular, hoppy Centennial IPA or the seasonal Cerise, made with tart Michigan cherries. A deli menu includes dips, French-bread pizzas and sandwiches (ordered at the kitchen window). Live music on many nights completes the festive atmosphere. See reviews and ratings. (616) 776-1195; foundersbrewing.com
Goose Island Brew Pub Twenty-five-year-old Goose Island brewery provides a cozy, quiet oasis in Chicago (the original in Lincoln Park, a newer one in Wrigleyville). The casual, wood and brick dining room surrounds an elegant bar where patrons find nationally recognized classics like mildly hoppy Green Line Pale Ale and the fruity 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Balance a flight of four 3-ounce beers with the amazing Stilton burger, topped with roasted garlic. See reviews and ratings. (312) 915-0071; gooseisland.com
Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company At five locations in Wisconsin (including Madison and Wausau), Great Dane built a reputation for food that’s as delicious as its beer—perhaps because they often combine the two. Start dinner with beer bread slathered with honey butter, then dive into a plate of Wisconsin Style Cheddar Mac, made with the brewery’s own golden Peck’s Pilsner. But it’s OK to simply sip on a brew here, too. The malty, smooth—and heavy—Emerald Isle Stout may leave you too full for dinner. See reviews and ratings. (608) 284-0000; greatdanepub.com
Little Apple Brewing Company Since 1995, this humble Manhattan, Kansas, steer and beer spot has prided itself on handcrafted brews and Certified Angus beef. But these days, the owners offer two menus: the standard, full of burgers, steaks and pizzas, and the white menu, a seasonal wonder showcasing small-batch producers, as in Ducktrap River of Maine smoked salmon atop potato cakes and goat cheese mousse—a fine addition to a night out. See reviews and ratings. (785) 539-5500; littleapplebrewery.com