These days, many of us want to know the stories behind the goods we buy, whether it’s food, clothing or, yes, even alcohol. A visit to a beach town can now include a tour of a distillery or brewery, where you not only get to learn how the products are made, but you can taste them, too.
These recommendations represent a wide range of companies — from ambitious startups looking to make an impact nationally to family-owned labors of love aiming to serve their immediate communities — but it is just a sampling. The craft alcohol industry is growing in all these areas, so consider this mini-guide a starting point as you map out your itinerary.
Ocean City Brewing Co.: While this brand has blossomed into a local chain of brewpubs and restaurants (with locations in Glen Burnie, Owings Mills and more), the original brewery still offers daily tours year-round for $10 (includes a sample flight of three beers), so visitors can learn how they make brews like the Ogre Blood Orange IPA and the Dragon’s Moon Belgian-style wheat beer. 5509 Coastal Highway, 443-664-6682, ocbrewingcompany.com
Backshore Brewing Co.: Founded by New Yorker-turned-permanent Ocean-City-resident Danny Robinson, Backshore takes micro-brewing seriously, producing approximately four kegs’ worth of beer per batch. The Candy Mountain, Charlie! blonde ale is sippable on a scorching day, while the Little Debbie oatmeal raisin brown ale shows the sweeter possibilities of craft beer. Too small for tours, the brewery’s production process takes place in the back while Backshore serves bar food in the front. 913 Atlantic Ave., 410-289-0008, backshorebrew.com
Seacrets Distilling Co.: Yes, it’s the same Seacrets known for its complex of bars and general party-hard atmosphere. Last year, it opened a distillery to make rum, vodka and gin, and visitors can take a 45-minute tour of the facility to see how the spirits are made for $10. 111 49th St., 410-524-2669, seacretsdistilling.com
Dogfish Head Brewery: One of the most prominent names in the craft-beer movement, this Delaware company continues to produce high-quality brews — like the 60 Minute IPA and Namaste white ale — more than two decades after its founding. Tours are free and given on a first-come, first-served basis. You can also check out the brand’s distillery, which makes vodka and gin on the premises. 6 Cannery Village Center, Milton, 302-684-1000, dogfish.com
Beach Time Distilling: After working at Dogfish Head, Greg Christmas opened Beach Time Distilling and its tasting room in Lewes in 2015. First known for its rums, Beach Time’s portfolio has expanded to include vodka and gin. Visitors interested in tours are encouraged to schedule it in advance. 32191 Nassau Road, Unit 5, Lewes, 302-644-2850, beachtimedistilling.com
7 Mile Brewery: Founders Pete Beyda and Chris Collett got their starts home-brewing as a hobby, but last year, they took the professional plunge, opening this brewery in Cape May County. Take a seat at the tasting room, where there are always at least a dozen 7 Mile brews on tap, and visitors can try out flights of different flavors. 3156 Route 9 South, Rio Grande, 609-365-7777, 7milebrew.com
Beach Haus Brewery: High school friends Brian Ciriaco and John Merklin brewed their first Beach Haus beer together in 2007, but only launched their brick-and-mortar brewery in 2015. Now, visitors to their Belmar facility can take a tour (guided or self-guided) to see how they make offerings like their Classic American Pilsner and Hopbahn Double IPA. 801 Main St., Belmar, 732-202-7782, beachhausbeer.com
Back Bay Brewing Co.: Blocks from the Virginia Beach oceanfront, this brewery started by five friends in 2011 has a sharp-looking taproom where visitors can try brews like the Beach Cruiser Pale Ale and Frisco Woods Smoke Porter. On the first Wednesday of each month, the taproom hosts Duck Call, an event showcasing a local singer/songwriter. 614 Norfolk Ave., Virginia Beach, 757-531-7750, backbaybrewingco.com
Chesapeake Bay Distillery: Makers of vodka and rum, this distillery has been in operation since 2005. Free tours are given Saturdays, and visitors can try a flight of sample pours for $7 on any given day (except Mondays, when the distillery is closed). Chesapeake Bay also makes a lemon liqueur and a ghost pepper-infused vodka that mixes well with martinis and bloody marys. 437 Virginia Beach Blvd., Virginia Beach, 757-498-4210, chesapeakebaydistillery.com
Outer Banks Brewing Station: Claiming to be the country’s first wind-powered brewery, this North Carolina company values its environmental impact as much as its beers. Come for lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch, and try a flight of brews that can include the Hugh Hefeweizen and Lemongrass Wheat Ale. Free tours, led by co-founder Eric Reece, are given every Wednesday at 4 p.m. 600 S. Croatan Highway, Kill Devil Hills, 252-449-2739, obbrewing.com
Outer Banks Distilling: Housed in a historic building that was once a department store, this distillery focuses on one spirit: rum. While its silver rum is the company’s flagship product, the brand’s Kill Devil Pecan Rum sets Outer Banks Distilling apart. You can even purchase candied rum-soaked pecans in the gift shop. Tours are $10, and given Tuesday-Saturday at 1 p.m. 2510 Budleigh St., Manteo, 252-423-3011, outerbanksdistilling.com
Lost Colony Brewery: Previously known as the Full Moon Café and Brewery, Lost Colony has produced British and Irish-style beers since 2011. Next door to the casual café, which serves steaks and seafood entrees for lunch and dinner, is the Lost Colony tasting room, where visitors can try brews like Kitty Hawk Blonde and Buxton Brown Ale. 208 Queen Elizabeth St., Manteo, 252-473-6666, lostcolonybrewery.com
New South Brewing: Since 1998, this microbrewery has produced beers that won’t intimidate craft-beer novices. Stop by to try year-round offerings (like the lager and nut brown ale) or limited-run seasonal brews like the Oktoberfest, which hits the taproom in August. Tours, which cost $7 and require reservation, include beer samples and a New South pint glass. 1109 Campbell St., 843-916-2337, newsouthbrewing.com
Palmetto Distillery: Although the distillery is nearly five hours away across the state, curious imbibers can learn all about the brand’s moonshine and whiskey at its Myrtle Beach store. Take a free tour to learn how moonshine is made and the history of the brand. 4801 S. Kings Highway, 843-238-2855, palmettodistillery.com