Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable Tour: The Best Breweries in the U.S.

Ah, beer. That nectar of the gods, that hops scotch, that oh-so-potent potable…today on International Beer Day, we cheers to YOU. Now we’re not here to claim cicerone status, but the Toads have been known to enjoy mighty good beer and yes, we have a kegerator in the office (which definitely gets used more than our fax machine). We’ve also been on the road as part of our national Save the Planet, Wear Sustainable Tour, so we’ve had the pleasure of stopping into some of America’s best breweries. We checked in with Drew, Rob, and Rachel (our trusty captains and volunteer beer tasters) for their favorite beers across the states:

Drew in truck

Drew’s picks:

  • ALABAMA – Good People Brewing in Birmingham; according to them, the first micro-brewery in the state. They host Birmingham Mountain radio in the brewery, so check them out while you’re drinking. Say hey to the owner, Mike—he’s a good dude.
  • SOUTH CAROLINA – Birds Fly South Project in Greenville (Pronounced “Green-vull” by the locals); tons of beers on tap and a great grass field to chill with your dog. Bonus: Epic food trucks, like Golden, Brown and Delicious.
  • NORTH CAROLINA – Vecino Brewing in Carrboro; Vecino means “neighbor” in Spanish, so they’re staying true to the name by supporting local non-profits and hosting lots of fundraisers. Dave, the owner, is an awesome guy.
  • PENNSYLVANIA – Victory Brewing (a few locations). I went to the one in Kennett Square; great food (pretzels on point!), wash it down with a Golden Monkey, a spiced Belgian-style ale.

 

Rob and Rachel in trailer

Rachel and Rob’s picks:

  • MAINE – Maine Beer Company in Freeport; “A Tiny Beautiful Something” is their signature pale ale for a reason.
  • VERMONT – Foam Brewers and Zero Gravity Craft Brewery in Burlington, VT ( the Little Birdy is delish), and Fiddlehead Brewing in Shelburne, VT (Awesome hazy NEIPAs and according to Rachel, “the Ghost Hits is hands down best beer I’ve had on the tour so far”).
  • OHIO – In Cleveland, Platform Beer Co. is great (go there after hitting up the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame!). In Columbus you’ve got lots of options: Antiques on High, North High Brewing, and Seventh Son are all great and in the super cool Short North Neighborhood.

 

Basically, we love beer almost as much as we love sustainability. If you’re like us, you’ll want to wear your heart on your sleeve. This 100% organic cotton tee can help.

 

STP Drink Nude

And we’re still on the road, headed west through the Midwest and into the Pacific Northwest. So where should we grab a beer?? Follow along on Instagram and send us your favorite beer recs by messaging or tagging us @toadandcoclothing.

 

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in New York City

Finding world-class taverns and bars in New York City is easy. It’s finding the trails, which can sometimes be the challenging part. But if you know where to look—and in some cases, if you’re willing to venture outside the city limits just a little ways—there are some surprisingly great places to hit the trail. And when you do, there’s arguably nothing better than sipping on a nice, cold one after your time out in the wild. Here are five tried-and-tested, trail-to-tavern pairings that will be sure to make for a memorable (and refreshing) experience.

1. Bear Mountain | Defiant Brewing Company

Bear Mountain Bridge—views like these are worth running some hills! Ken

 

Hiking in Bear Mountain is one of the most fun trail experiences you can have without going far from the city. Combined with nearby Harriman State Park, there are roughly 50,000 acres of mostly forested landscape and 235 miles of trails between them. With chunks of the Appalachian Trail in the park, plus plenty of other gorgeous single-track trails that are—especially on weekdays—rarely overcrowded, it’s a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively) if you’re used to pounding pavement in the city.

Once you’re done hiking, you can make your trip outside the city even more fun if you swing by the Defiant Brewing Company in Pearl River on your way back into the city after your hike. Pro tip: if you’re not the designated driver home from this adventure, live large and try the O’Defiant Stout—the creamy, dark Guinness-esque beer will not disappoint, and will fill you up even if you did a 20 miler!

2. Prospect Park | Brooklyn Brewery

Beer has dispelled the illness which was in me Daniel Lobo

 

Brooklyn doesn’t really call to mind nature and nice trails, but they do exist…you just have to know where to look. Head to Prospect Park for some on-dirt adventure in the nearly 3 miles of trails found in the park. It’s a place with a similar vibe to Central Park (they were both designed by the same landscape architect), just way more scaled down and with far fewer people. It’s also the best spot around for a need-to-get-on-trail urge when you don’t have time to go out of the city.

Afterwards, Brooklyn Brewery is a staple for any serious beer drinkers in the tri-state area (and you can get it worldwide now!). The brewery itself, with a bar inside, is a sweet place to land post-hike, and since it’s located in Williamsburg, there’s no end to the possibilities for an ultra-hip brunch spot if your hike was earlier in the morning. With a wide range of seasonal brews alternating in and out of the taps throughout the year, there’s no shortage of brew options. But it’s the flagship Brooklyn Lager, which is perhaps the must-drink beer at Brooklyn Brewery.

3. Cunningham Park | Fillmore’s Tavern

Trail running in the city just got a lot more fun with Cunningham Park around. Molly Hurford

 

Cunningham Park, up in Queens, isn’t just for mountain bikers: it’s a great spot for trail runners and hikers as well. And the meticulously groomed and well-signed trails make its 358-acre expanse one of the best kept secrets in Queens. If you’re trail running or casually strolling, be aware that it is a somewhat popular spot for mountain bikers, so listen for bikes behind you. Bonus mileage: if you need to add more miles, you’re just a few blocks from Alley Pond Park, another great park with a combo of paved, doubletrack and singletrack trails weaving through wetlands, forests, and meadows.

And you might need that mileage if you’re going to go two miles down the road to Fillmore’s Tavern—a 102-year-old establishment with a ton of character—to indulge in a a beer or two during their fantastic happy hour, or if you’re planning on having the Tequila Poppers (we won’t blame you if you don’t share them with your hiking buddy).

4. Inwood Hills Park | Hogshead Tavern

Hard to believe Inwood Hill Park is located right in New York City Barry Solow

 

Inwood Hills Park has some of the best trails in the city. Winding singletrack allows great views of the Hudson River and skyscrapers, so it’s a bit of a fairyland vibe where you feel completely alone in the middle of nowhere, but you’re actually totally surrounded by the hustle of the city. The route from the tip of the park down to Hogshead—one of NYC’s top taverns—is (dare we say) epic. You’ll start winding through Inwood Hills, exploring and enjoying some of the serious stairs, before heading through neighboring trails in Fort Tryon as you head south four miles to Hogshead Tavern in Harlem. The selection of craft beer, whiskey, and uber-hip snacks (and brunch, naturally) make this the perfect post-hike destination, especially if you finish thirsty and hungry, and want some incredibly Instagram-able eats and drinks.

5. Sprain Ridge Park | Pete’s Park Place Tavern

Twenty-five cent wings post-hike? Sounds like the best day ever, which is why you should venture north of Manhattan on Mondays to make a visit to the technical trails of Sprain Ridge Park (the terror of mountain bikers, and the training ground for those hoping to compete in more serious trail running events). After you’ve exhausted all of those trails and your legs, you can head to Pete’s Park Place Tavern for beers and wings. It’s the most traditional sports-bar environment out of the taverns we’ve checked out, but the ultra-casual atmosphere is welcoming even if you’re a little bit sweaty, so it’s worth the stop. And again—where in Manhattan will you find tasty wings for 25 cents?

Shop Our Heritage Trail to Tavern Style:

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Want more adventures? Check out the Runner’s Guide to New York City Breweries.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co. Featured image provided by Thomas Angermann

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairing in Dallas-Fort Worth

The Dallas-Fort Worth area may be a sprawling metropolis, but there’s no shortage of natural beauty both in the city and among its (vast) outskirts. This is Texas, after all, and Texas is big. And spread out. And quite wild. Folks here also appreciate a good craft brew or a good number of other poisons with our long-loved Tito’s Vodka being made in state and, now, even bourbon and (Texas) moonshine. Our days are also long and, in the summer, often grueling. So we’ve gotten real good at pairing two of the things we love most ‘round here: trails and ales. Whether downtown lovin’ is your cup of tea (er, booze) or you prefer a watering hole outside of town, here are five pairings for your day off.

1. Dogwood Canyon | Bishop Cider Company

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For those who appreciate rare flora, observing endangered birds, and fresh cider, this pairing goes quite nicely with a spring day. Begin your day just outside of Cedar Hill State Park, southwest of Dallas in Cedar Hill, Texas. Here you’ll find Dogwood Canyon, founded by the good people of Wild Birds Unlimited. In the spring, Dogwood Canyon is rich with color as the flowering dogwoods blossom, and also rich with birdsong, as hummingbirds are regulars around these parts. It’s also thought that the endangered golden-cheeked warblers live among the reserve. The trails within Dogwood Canyon are short, but they’re also hilly and picturesque with scenic overlooks providing views of nearby Cedar Hill State Park and Joe Pool Lake.

Once you’ve had your day’s flora and fauna fix, head just due north to Bishop Cider Company in Southwest Dallas’ Oak Cliff. With ciders named things like Crackberry and Suicider, Bishop’s cider may be unconventional in the text of the old school, offering up cider with jalapenos, peaches, pecans, and hops, but that’s precisely what makes it so Texas. Even better, you are assured a high-quality concoction at the Cider Company because the owners’ philosophy is simply: “Is this a cider that we want to drink all day every day?” And that’s a philosophy we can support.

2. Lake Grapevine’s North Shore Trail | Grapevine Craft Brewery

Sunset at Grapevine Lake Austin Marshall

North Shore Trail runs along Lake Grapevine in Grapevine, Texas (northwest of Dallas) and offers an incredibly scenic out-and-back hike and bike trail up to 12 miles each way. There are three entry points to the trail, though you should take note of the two free entry points (because we’re saving our money for a post-hike brew, right?): Murrell Park and Twin Coves Park. Twin Coves Park technically has a fee, but the official Lake Grapevine site says if you park outside of the gate and enter the trail, there is no fee. Because the trail follows alongside Lake Grapevine, it’s an incredible place for those who enjoy chasing a stellar sunrise or sunset (though if drinking is on the agenda, perhaps sunset is a better choice).

After the sun sets (or rises—we aren’t judging), head over to Grapevine Craft Brewery. The local brew joint says “craft is their middle name.” There’s always a selection of rotating seasonal and limited release beers and the year-round staples like the crisp Monarch Pilsner (which is a great choice after a hot day aside the lake) and Nightwatch Oatmeal Stout (which makes for a good cool weather beer). Grapevine Craft Brewery is an award-winning kind of place, with awards won from events like the Great American Beer Festival and the Denver International Beer Competition. They often feature great local food trucks too, so you can sample the finest of Grapevine in just one sitting.

3. Big Cedar Wilderness Trails | Deep Ellum Brewery

Southwest of downtown, Big Cedar Wilderness Trails offer more than twenty miles of pristine, well-kept trails that are great for hiking and biking. There are both short and long loops that cross over the highest elevation in the city, which provides a great sunset viewing point and beautiful views of a nearby lake and downtown. Some of the trails are moderate, so those seeking a solid workout before imbibing have the opportunity to experience a good bit of elevation change, while still being close to downtown Dallas.

Once you’ve finished your Big Cedar elevation, it’s only appropriate to go to what is, perhaps, Dallas’ longest celebrated brewpub—Deep Ellum Brewery in the heart of downtown Dallas, where they say “love runs deep.” We can argue that post-hike cheer and a solid ABV can certainly lead to love running deep. The Deep Ellum IPA is a go-to classic at the brewery, while other local favorites include its Double Blonde and the Double Brown Stout. If you’re the kind who prefers to take a sixer for the road, the Easy Peasy IPA is described as a “perfect summer beer” and travels well.

4. Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge | The Collective Brewing Project


Brewmaster Mike Goldfuss filling up a cold one. Jake Wheeler

Fort Worth is a little less big city and a whole lot more old-school Texas. And that means the area immediately surrounding the city is a lot less developed than nearby Dallas. The Fort Worth Nature Center & Refuge is a sprawling refuge that provides nearly 4,000 acres of beautiful land along the West Fork of the Trinity River. Paddlers and hikers love the park for its pristine landscapes and outside-the-city vibes. There are more than twenty miles of hiking trails ranging from a quarter of a mile to 3.3 miles, and several entry points to the river, so land and water folks alike will enjoy the well-preserved ecosystems within the refuge.

Whether you’ve spent the day paddling along the Trinity or hiking the refuge’s trails, Fort Worth’s The Collective Brewing Project is a perfect next stop to wind down and hydrate. They call themselves Fort Worth’s “first franken-monster of a brewery” and use the hashtag #funkytownbeer, both of which are a warm invite to their tucked away taproom in an unassuming corner of the city’s Southside. Staple beers include their Mustache Rye’d and Tropic Thunder. And, if you’re anything like the masterminds behind Collective Brewing, you may be tempted to take a growler to go. Maybe even all the way to Big Bend.

5. Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve | Nine Band Brewing

Just twenty miles northeast of Dallas in Plano, Texas is an 800-acre nature preserve called Oak Point Park. The park was recently named a Certified Audubon Sanctuary because of the number of bird species that flourish within the preserve, making it an ideal day trip for birdwatchers and photographers too. Offering 3.5 miles of paved trails and more than seven miles of soft-surface trails that follow along Rowlett Creek, the park provides access to an environment that’s largely undisturbed as well as a pavilion and amphitheater. While the trails at Oak Point Park are not technical, they are far from the bustle of city life and immerse you into an important, peaceful, and beautiful ecosystem.

When you’ve finished exploring Oak Point’s trails, head just six miles north of Plano to Nine Band Brewing in Allen, considered the Plano-area’s first microbrewery. The 8,000-foot facility and taproom is filled with vats brewing up three signature beers and a range of seasonal blends, and communal, handmade wooden tables that make bringing a big crew or rallying a new one an easy task. Whether their 6% Nine Band Pale Ale or their 10.6% Toad Choker Barleywine is more your speed, Big Band’s taps are eager to pour you a post-adventure brew that’ll keep you on your toes, or bring you to your knees. Bottoms up!

Wear from the trail to the tavern…

Msshorts WsBluehoodie

Men’s Wonderer LS Shirt $79, Rover Short $75, Motile SS Polo $52,  Transverse Shirt Jac $119

Women’s Lean Layering Tank $32, BFT Hoodie $89, Festivator Short $49

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

The Best Trail to Tavern Pairings in Chicago

Part of the joy of hiking comes from exploring new places. And certainly part of the growing appeal of microbrews is the enjoyment that comes from trying something unique. So it’s no surprise that the combination of hiking and craft beers is appealing to outdoor enthusiasts who have been known to tip back a pint or two. Here, we’ve created five trail-to-tavern trips in the Chicago area that include a great hiking destination followed by a place to stop for unique, locally brewed beer. So get out of your neighborhood and explore some of the best trails (and beer) the Chicago area has to offer.

1. Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve | Stockholm’s Brew Pub

Following the Path of the Fox River, the paved Fox River Trail is one of the great resources for cyclists and runners in the far western suburbs. But if you want to get off the beaten path, take a detour at the Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve, which is just off the trail in St. Charles. While the preserve is a relatively small 65 acres, it offers plenty to explore, including an oak tree dating back to 1864. You’ll find mostly oak and maple forests on higher ground, a floodplain forest closer to the Fox River, and a restored prairie in former farm fields.

You’ll also find a network of trails through the fields and forested ravines, but nothing too strenuous. It’s a great place to enjoy wildflowers in the spring, and plenty of wildlife—particularly birds—any time of the year.

After the hike, head just south of St. Charles to downtown Geneva for an excellent beer choice. Stockholm’s Brew Pub offers several house-made beers made in the “Old World Tradition, cask-conditioned and un-filtered, for full balance flavor.” You’ll find about a dozen beers on the menu, usually including the Viking Red Ale, the Downtown Honey Brown, and the Older But Weisser, a Belgian White that’s certainly refreshing after some time on the trail. In addition to the beer selection, Stockholm’s offers an excellent menu for a full meal.

2. Palos Trail System | Granite City Brewery


Sunset singletrack in the Palos Trail System Mark Montri

The Palos Trail System in the Cook County Forest Preserves surrounding Palos Heights offers quite simply the best hiking experience in the Chicago area. And it’s not even close. Near the intersection of I-55 and I-294, Palos features nine significant trails—more than 20 miles worth—with hills, stones, downed trees, slippery surfaces, roots, and creeks. A few minutes away from the parking lot and you’ll forget you’re in the Chicago area.

The Granite City Brewery in Orland Park is just south of the trail system on LaGrange Road and opposite the Orland Grove Forest Preserve. It isn’t locally owned—the restaurant group got its start in St. Cloud, Minn., in 1999—but it does brew its own beer on the premises. And they certainly do a good job, with the four hand-crafted beers on the menu, including The Bennie, a German-style bock that will hit the spot after any hike.

3. Indiana Dunes State Park | Hunter’s Brewing


Exploring the sandy trails at Indiana Dunes State Park Steve Johnson

As the name implies, the Indiana Dunes State Park is best known for its big sandy hills that line the Lake Michigan lakeshore. And yes, you have more than three miles of very nice beach among the 2,182 acres of the park, with a long-distance view of the Chicago skyline on a clear day. But the dunes next to the beach offer some of the most challenging hiking around.

The state park features seven different trails—rated from easy to rugged—which tour the dunes and the adjacent nature preserve. That means that while you can certainly attempt to tackle the towering dunes, you also can explore trails that are more suitable for hiking. Find a trail map on the second page of this pamphlet.

You’d be hard pressed to find an area with more diverse terrain. You have sandy beaches and dunes, hard-packed trails and even boardwalks over marshes in the trail system. The 5.5-mile trail No. 10 is the largest at the dunes, and it offers a big loop that goes out via the nature preserve and back along the dunes and the beach. Trail No. 9 is a 3.75-mile loop inside the preserve, with plenty of climbing.

Located just outside the park in Chesterton, Ind., Hunter’s Brewing is a nanobrewery that features hand-brewed beer from its one-barrel system. You’ll find a variety of small-batch boutique beers in its tasting room, which also offers sandwiches and snacks. With 18 taps, you have plenty to choose from, and guest beer and wines (that is, not made on the premises) are also available.

4. Kettle Moraine State Forest | 841 Brewhouse


Taking to the trails in Kettle Moraine Forest Amy Bayer

Of course, if you’re talking about beer, Wisconsin should come to mind. If you’re up for a short road trip, the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest also offers some of the best hiking options within two hours of Chicago. The state forest contains more than 22,000 acres in southern Wisconsin, about 37 miles southeast of Milwaukee. For hikers, that means more than 130 miles of trails to explore—with lots of variety. You’ll find hardwood forests, pine plantations, and prairie.

The term “kettle moraine” is actually a geological description that comes from how the area was created. A moraine is an accumulation of rock and soil that comes from a glacier, while a kettle is a shallow body of water formed by a retreating glacier. You don’t need a degree in geology to figure out that this means the area is filled with rolling hills, valleys, and ridges. So you’ll discover some great views, but also have to do some serious climbing. Keep in mind when planning your mileage that these trails can be tough.

Reward yourself afterward with a trip to the 841 Brewhouse in nearby Whitewater, Wis. You’ll find four in-house beers on tap, usually a wheat, amber, IPA, and a stout, plus plenty of other options from Wisconsin craft breweries. Their large menu is solid and filled with pub favorites.

5. Deer Grove Forest Preserve | RAM Restaurant and Brewery

kyiotbsdpe3ukthu4ywz Deer Grove Forest Preserve offers the best hiking trails in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Jeff Banowetz. 

Offering the best hiking trails in Chicago’s northern suburbs, the Deer Grove Forest Preserve features nearly 10 miles of off-road trails in addition to several miles of paved routes that have made this a popular escape. Some have even referred to this as “Palos North,” in reference to the bigger trail system in the southwest suburbs. You don’t have the volume of trails here, but for north suburban residents this is certainly the gem of the forest preserve system.

Located just north of Dundee Road in Palatine, Ill., the Deer Grove Forest Preserve is bisected by Quentin Road, creating east and west sections of the park. The west side is slightly bigger, and has the longest trail, the yellow, which offers a 5.4-mile, uninterrupted loop. You can connect to black and orange trails on the west side and get in a good 10-mile hike without too much repetition. On the east side, which is connected to the west via a paved trail, there’s a 2.6-mile brown loop as well as the 2.6 mile paved trail.

Head east to nearby Wheeling, Ill., and you’ll hit the RAM Restaurant and Brewery, which offers a number of seasonal beers on tap. You can even create your own personal flights served in 10-ounce glasses from its wide selection. The impressive menu has everything from pub staples like burgers and fish and chips to beef short ribs and wild Alaska salmon. Be sure to work up an appetite.

Shop Our Heritage Trail to Tavern Style:

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Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

You Choose America’s Best Town Ever

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One of these 64 towns can be called the “Best Town Ever.” Crowning the winner will be up to you.

Picking the locations for the fifth annual Best Town Ever contest wasn’t easy. Outside Magazine looked for places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene— these are the towns that are hidden gems, underdogs, towns on the rise, or those solid golden-oldies with a new twist. 60 towns were picked to represent 4 regions of the U.S. – West, East, Midwest and South. And for the first time a wild-card round had Instagram followers nominate their favorite towns for the final four spots: Port Angeles, WA; New York, NY; Saugatuck, MI; and Roanoke, VA had a strong showing of support to bring the competition to 64 towns. Now the gauntlet begins!

Who will advance in the tournament? That’s up to you. Click through to the voting section to vote for your favorite towns and see which town rises to the top. Here’s what you need to know:

  • You can vote once per round, per matchup (So that’s 32 votes the first round, 16 the next round, etc.)
  • Starting on May 4, the first five rounds of voting will last five days each (so vote every 5 days on a new matchup)
  • The winners will advance until only two towns remain on May 29, 2015 to kick off the final round
  • The winner will be the town with the most votes on June 5

Oh ya, and you can win great stuff!

Enter your email address and ZIP code at OutsideOnline.com for a chance to win a three-night vacation to the winning town or up to $300 worth of new Toad&Co threads! Happy voting, and may the best town win!

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