The Great American Ale Trail

UPDATE: The Great American Ale Trail is being updated and revised completely for 2016 and will be published by summer in a new 416-page version. Keep checking back for updates. Thanks!

With a foreword by Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver, THE GREAT AMERICAN ALE TRAIL, covering the incredible world of craft beer in the United States, came out on 9/6/11 from Running Press (Perseus Books). Featured in the pages of The New York Times, The Chicago TribuneMen’s JournalOutside, USA TodayThe Atlantic MonthlyPortland Monthly,, and The Huffington Post‘s top cookbook and food books for Fall 2011, this is a groundbreaking guide. UPDATE: The Society of American Travel writers has awarded The Great American Ale Trail the gold medal for best travel guidebook, 2012!

Click here to buy it via

THE GREAT AMERICAN ALE TRAIL: The Craft Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Watering Holes in the Nation

OVERVIEW:  There are now close to 1,800 craft breweries and brewpubs in America, and countless sophisticated craft beer bars opening almost weekly. For the intrepid, culinary-minded beer lover, where to begin? From crab shacks and copper-lined brewpubs to farmhouse startups and four star New York restaurants, the book leads readers on the ultimate, coast-to-coast road trip of craft beer. This ambitious project is the first definitive guide to the worthiest places to discover and drink craft beer across the entire United States. With over 400 destinations and suggestions for what to order in each one, it also maps out how those beers relate to the local, national, and international beer cultures and profiles the interesting characters driving the constant innovation. By celebrating the places craft beer culture thrives—breweries, beer bars, bottle shops, festivals and restaurants including some of the country’s highest-rated eateries—this book will show readers where and how to make their own beer journeys, and what to watch out for along the way. The big question behind this book, and the one it will answer, is: to find the best craft beer in the land, where do I go, and what will I discover? What inspires these artisans, and what do they know about beer—and, perhaps, life—that I don’t?


“Here is joyful evidence that doomsayers who lament the dumbing-down of America’s taste are only Chicken Littles. The Great American Ale Trail posits that in fact we are, right now, enjoying the Golden Age of craft beer, offering as evidence a guide to hundreds of bars, breweries, and even barbecues around the nation that make and/or serve the best of it. What a roadmap for taste-bud adventure! With this book in hand, anyone who prizes good beer need never go thirsty again.”

—Jane & Michael Stern, authors of ROADFOOD

“Christian has been an evangelist for and card-carrying member of the craft brewing community for many years. And now, with this book, his encyclopedic knowledge of American brewery geography and mythology is right at your fingertips.  There are over 1,800 commercial breweries in this country and the average American lives within 10 miles of at least one brewery and a short road trip away from hundreds of them. So get truckin’ and explore the vibrant, diverse, craft brewing landscape America is now internationally known for.”

—Sam Calagione, President & Founder, Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, author of BREWING UP A BUSINESS

 “From sea to foaming sea, we’ve become a great Beer Hoisting Nation. And Christian DeBenedetti is our convivial, savvy, and good-humored guide. The result of his dedicated wanderings is a tangy compendium that’s part travelogue, part practical handbook, and part cultural history, giving us fresh perspective on the Hop Revolution that has quietly overtaken our land, one pint at a time. Carry this book with you on your own cross-continental travels, and bring it home stained and sour—a field manual soaked with happy memories.”

 —Hampton Sides, Editor-at-Large, Outside magazine and author of AMERICANA, BLOOD AND THUNDER, GHOST SOLDIERS, and HELLHOUND ON HIS TRAIL

“Christian is the Christopher Columbus of beer, exploring the craft beer scene and discovering new brews, one draft at a time. The tales from his recent journey across the country are an enlightening look into the American craft beer renaissance we are experiencing today. If he had set out on this expedition 30 years ago, his book would have only been a few pages long – and his beer tab, much less expensive.”

—Jim Koch, Founder and Brewer, Samuel Adams

“Christian DeBenedetti’s book is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

—Jack Hitt, author of  BUNCH OF AMATEURS: A Search for the American Character (Crown, 2011)

 “Beer is a personal endeavor anyway you look at it.  Christian DeBenedetti’s Great American Ale Trail provides a good dose of nourishment, eloquently awakening a thirst for America’s craft brews.  Detours, “scenes,” local heroes, beer philosophy, key brews, “best of the rest” and suggested itineraries unzip America’s golden age of beer.  It’s the perfect companion for your next road trip!”

—Charlie Papazian, author THE COMPLETE JOY of HOMEBREWING, and MICROBREWED ADVENTURES; founder of the Great American Beer Festival

“What a great read this is—packed with places I instantly want to visit and fizzing with fun, enlightening glimpses of the coolest aspects of our nation’s craft-beer renaissance. I can’t wait to take a few of these roadtrips. They promise a whole new way to see and taste America.”

 —Margo True, Food Editor, Sunset magazine; author, THE ONE-BLOCK FEAST

“Great beers are about places, not just where they’re made, but where we get to drink them, and there’s no better tour guide than Christian, who’s picked the best breweries, best bars, and best bar snacks (Juneau? That’d be the pelmeni) for the thirsty wanderer in all of us. His book is the best answer yet to that eternal question, as old as travel itself: Where can I get a drink around here?”


“Easily the most thirst-inducing book ever written. Three cheers to Christian DeBenedetti for mapping out the route to beer heaven. It’s about damn time someone got around to writing the definitive guide to beer bars in America. I was afraid I was going to have to do it.”

 —Dan Dunn, author of  LIVING LOADED: Tales of Sex, Salvation and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour.

Got book? Click here for a list of retailers. Thank you!

15 thoughts on “The Great American Ale Trail

  1. Christine Meier Smith

    Chris, just received word from Stephanie that your book is coming out in September. Wonderful news! We have four copies on order. Good for you!!!! Will you be having a reading in the Seattle/ Bellingham area? All the best, Chris & Richard Smith

    1. Hi Chris and Richard! Wonderful to hear from you! I truly appreciate your support, and yes, I do hope to have a reading in the Seattle area – I will be updating this site and the Facebook page (in case you use it) with dates. Hope you are doing so well, and thanks again!

    2. Hi Christine and Richard, I’m going to do an event at Pike Brewery on Thursday Dec 1 from 4-730PM if you happen to be in the area! It will be in The Museum Room. I would love to see you there!

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  4. Christine Meier Smith

    Hi Chris,
    As luck would have it, we have a previous commitment in Bellingham on December 1. We would love to have been able to see you at Pike Brewery, and hope that there will be another opportunity to get together at a later time!
    Chris & Richard

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