The craft brew scene is redefining community in some unexpected places. Omaha, Nebraska, in particular, has created a culture of ale-passionate family that extends from its tourist-popular downtown Old Market all the way to the redesigned Benson butcher shops and warehouses. (Infusion Brewing Co.’s signature feel, for example, is the result of a rehabbed 1917 Meat Market building that served the community for 60 years.)
All over the city, people come in search of good times, partaking in classic games (like Bingo), uptempo fundraisers, and even tasting parties after a yoga session. The flavors that draw crowds range from subtle notes of vanilla to a punchier sea salt and blood orange (and include my personal favorite, Infusion’s graham cracker amber ale).
This sudden expansion of the local brew market is reason enough to make a quick stop to the city of Stockyards. While the Metro’s motto has just recently been changed to “We Don’t Coast,” those with some time to settle in and sample over 12 uniquely-inspired local brew brands, might choose to do just that. Omaha’s always-packed calendar of beer-focused community and entertainment events help ensure that your frosty mug is never enjoyed the same way twice, and it’s easier than ever to show up to one of these cozy tap rooms and stay for the entire day (and night).
If you haven’t considered imbibing in this thriving Midwestern hub, the following hot spots are designed to entice and entertain.
Omaha Breweries You Need To Visit
Infusion Brewing Company
This Benson-area brewery was built from an early 20th Century meat market and is a favorite stop for anyone looking for fresh flavors and friendly conversation. Infusion’s efforts to bring better brews to the Metro is why they’ve had to create a second location just to handle their customers’ needs. Both sites offer a tap house and brewery tours, and their community events often benefit worthy charities near and dear to the hearts of Nebraskans.
Top Flavor Picks: Vanilla Bean Blonde and Grahahamber (Graham Cracker Amber Ale)
Lucky Bucket Brewing Company
Never short on ideas, the crew at Lucky Bucket is always rolling out new flavors to please experienced beer sommeliers and novice guzzlers alike. Inspired by the old-school method of lugging beer home in a bucket (before 12-packs and growlers were a thing), their creative name reflects their efforts to leave customers feeling like they hit the flavor lottery. (Part of the credit goes to their sister company, Cut Spike Distillery, which creates quite the tasty whiskey cocktail right there on site.) While private tours are available, their tasting room and tours require no reservation during regular hours.
Top Flavor Picks: Pre-Prohibition Lager and Wide Eye Coffee Stout
Nestled deep in the tourist-favorite Old Market portion of Omaha, this trendy beer stop has its roots deep in history. Dubbed Omaha’s first brewery/distillery since before Prohibition, the masterminds of Brickway believe that no one should be subject to sub-par brews. Don’t believe them? They started a movement with their “Beer Amnesty” program, which allows drinkers to dump off “bad beers” during an annually-designated week and pick up a six-pack of Brickway brews in exchange – no questions asked.
Top Flavor Picks: India Pale Lager and Coffee Vanilla Stout
With a first-class food menu and pairing opportunities for the most discerning taste buds, this is another Benson-based pick you can’t possibly pass up. Created from the bones of a turn-of-the-century movie theater, Benson Brewery has been churning out brews on site since 2013. As one of the few places in Omaha to grab a classic Poutine, it’s the kind of sit-down business lunch spot you can enjoy well into the weekend.
Top Flavor Picks: Driveway Wheat and New Brewer, Who Dis?
Okay, so this location doesn’t make its own beer, but sometimes girls (and guys) just wanna have fun! With 30 rotating beers on tap, there are plenty of opportunities to try a wide selection of bold brews – many of which are made right here in Omaha. Two floors full of arcade, pinball, and skeeball games are designed to keep you entertained all evening. There’s even a $3 bargain basement deal for those who want unlimited free play options to go with their brew. For the vintage arcade junkie, there’s no better place to be.
Where to Stay in Omaha
Since responsible drinking is a must, I recommend that you stretch out your beer tasting over a few days. With so many excellent accommodations close by to help you relax and unwind, you’ll have no problem planning out the perfect brewery tour the next time you are in Omaha.
Magnolia Hotel Omaha
Those spending a night touring breweries in the Old Market will love that the Magnolia Hotel Omaha is just three blocks from the heart of shopping, dining, and drinking. With a selection of lofted suites of impeccable style, it’s a four-star hotel experience at a price that rivals the big chains. The complimentary hotel shuttle and a pet-friendly atmosphere keep guests coming back again and again.View Hotel
Element Omaha Midtown Crossing
For guests wanting to be near midtown (and a closer jaunt to those Benson breweries we love), look no further than the Element Omaha Midtown Crossing. This modern hotel boasts green policies and amenities, as well as a fully-equipped kitchen with connected grocery for cooking on site. Guests also love the 24-hour fitness center.View Hotel
Hyatt Place Omaha Downtown Old Market
Looking for a chain hotel to earn or redeem loyalty points? Look no further than the Hyatt Place Omaha Downtown Old Market, located conveniently downtown and just a quick 15 minutes to almost every brew favorite on our list. Make a day of taking a drop-in tap room tour before hitting the town (and those breweries, too.) Traditional Hyatt perks and service make this a consistently satisfactory stay for Omaha visitors.View Hotel
Pick a Penny
Can’t decide on which brewery to visit first? The Omaha area “Pick a Penny Program” gives you the kind of loyalty card that boozy dreams are made of with a buy one get one for a penny offer for 12 area beer businesses. The program brochure can be requested online to be sent through the mail. Upon completing the 12-shop tour, you can redeem your completed checklist to the Omaha Visitors Center for a free souvenir pint glass.
Omaha Brew Bus
Need a responsible way to get around town? Instead of calling for an Uber or Lyft, allow the Omaha Brew Bus to do the job. Their private tours last around four hours and take you to some of the best Omaha breweries (including Lucky Bucket and Infusion). Your journey comes with a beer, snacks, a guided experience, and use of a cooler for anything you buy and bring home. Designated drivers ride for a discount.
Feature photo courtesy of Visit Omaha