With Thanksgiving upon us and the winter solstice less than a month away, we’re officially well into hibernation season. Fall is all about twirling through crunchy leaf piles, but winter is for blankets, good books and great beer. Although it takes a lot to convince us to set foot outside, these impossibly warm, inviting taprooms are enough to tempt us to brave the elements. With handcrafted furnishings made from salvaged wood and worn leather, along with crackling fireplaces and countryside farms, these places are ideal for a long, leisurely conversation over a winter warmer. As long as we can hang out here, we’re in no hurry for spring to get here.
Lawson’s Finest Liquids
Set to the backdrop of tree-covered mountains, Lawson’s Finest Liquids is a true Vermont-style taproom, complete with a wooden bar and timber-covered ceiling. Grab a pint of maple imperial stout to sip in front of the fireplace and then take to the walking paths surrounding the property. This mountain lodge-style escape may be a bit off the beaten path—it’s an hour southeast of Burlington—but it’s one of the only places you can snag limited-release brews such as Stony Hill Smoked Porter and Maple Tripple.
While Columbus proper is not lacking exceptional breweries, it’s worth the trek to nearby Lancaster to visit the former horse farm that now houses Rockmill Brewery. Situated on the top of rolling hills overlooking a serene pond, once you arrive at this Belgian-inspired farmhouse brewery, you won’t want to leave. The original taproom is built into the old farmhouse—think reclaimed wood bars and oversized fireplace surrounded by well-worn leather couches. If you’re looking for something more spacious, the brewery recently opened a larger tasting room on the property, complete with its own indoor-outdoor stone fireplace where you can warm up with a glass of saison.
The Bar at Moody Tongue
Moody Tongue’s recently opened brewery, taproom, and restaurants on Chicago’s south side is different from your run-of-the-mill beer bar in a lot of ways: it has pilsner made with black truffles, its taproom is encased in dark brown walls, and The Dining Room next door serves 12-course tasting menus. Being inside The Bar feels like you’re drinking in a cave—if that cave is well-equipped with leather furniture, a brick fireplace, and the occasional potted plant. In front of that fireplace is the ideal spot for a glass of barrel-aged scotch ale paired with smoked beet tartare.
West Kill Brewing
If you want an honest-to-goodness beer retreat, West Kill Brewing has you covered. The 127-acre former dairy farm, located in the beautiful and secluded Catskills Mountains in upstate New York, is home to a local ingredient-focused brewery (think: maple syrup, honey, foraged herbs) and a modest but adorable taproom featuring a succinct eight beers at a time. The drive through the majestic woods is worth the trip alone, but sipping West Kill's famous Kaaterskill IPA in the fresh mountain air can't be beat.
Plank Road Tap Room
Get your Abraham Lincoln on at what may be the finest beer-filled log cabin in Illinois. Plank Road's taproom in Elgin, just outside of Chicago, has some serious Grizzly Adams vibes both inside and out, where food trucks line up on weekends to feed hungry patrons. (You can also bring your own food, as Plank Road has no kitchen of its own.) Plank Road features more than a dozen rotating taps of mostly local brews, including the likes of 3 Floyds and Chicago's Une Année, as well as a few selections from around the country.
With its warm-wood interior illuminated by candles, Folksbier feels more like a cabin in the Adirondacks than a taproom in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. New Yorkers unable to flee upstate have been turning to this snuggly space for a little bit of solace in the winter since 2017. The owners also grow their own hops, which appear in beers like their rye porter—a farm-to-glass touch that only adds to the rustic vibe.