Nebraska's brewing history dates back to the mid-1800s, yet, as with most Midwestern beer towns, it completely died out during the first half of the 20th century, thanks to bummers like Prohibition. A handful of Omaha-based artisan brewers, however, are revitalizing the state's brewing prowess, opening microbreweries throughout the city and organizing the annual Omaha Beer Week to spread the craft gospel. These Corn Huskers can drink, that’s for sure, and they're not too bad at making the stuff, either.
Ground zero for the scene is the historic Benson district, also known as the beer district. Noteworthy spots in the booming area include three-year-old Benson Brewery, a neighborhood brewpub with a warm, Brooklyn-esque aesthetic (think hanging Edison bulbs, exposed brick, reclaimed-wood furniture) and a line on drinkability thanks to its house-made American and English standards. A few blocks down the way, you’ll find Infusion Brewing Company, one of Omaha’s most celebrated new craft outposts. Infusion’s seven-barrel brewhouse and taproom are set in a carefully restored 1917 meat market, giving the joint a real dose of Nebraska-born authenticity to pair with a rotating beer list that peaks with the Camaraderie, an 8.5% ABV imperial IPA dripping with complex blood orange flavor and brewed in collaboration with famed Odell Brewing of Fort Collins, Colorado.
For something a little different, Midtown's Farnam House Brewing focuses on funky farmhouse ales and experimental Brett-fermented and sour ales. Brewed in traditional Belgian style, Farnam’s Papio Kriek and Oud Bruin are beautifully tart, like two swift kicks to the jaw followed by a drying embrace. Welcome to the craft beer revolution, Omaha.
Oh, and here's a tip: grab the Omaha Visitors Board-designed free "Explorer’s Journal." The pamphlet currently highlights nine top-notch Omaha microbreweries and comes with vouchers for a free pint at each stop. Yep. Free beer. You're welcome.
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Meredith Heil is a writer, drinker, and dad-joke enthusiast living in Brooklyn. For misdirected late-night texts, follow @beerdedladies & for ill-fated attempts at humor, see @meredad.