One of our nation’s most historic homes of invention and industry, Omaha, Nebraska, continues to be a city that inspires residents and visitors. Omaha is one of the American Midwest’s most iconic cities and is home to several Fortune 500 companies, historic sites, national sports tournaments and much more. Now, with more than 100 years of brewing history to build off, breweries in Omaha are primed and ready to take center stage.
Omaha’s brewing history dates all the way back to 1859, when German immigrant Frederick Krug founded his brewery in the modern-day Benson neighborhood. By the end of the 19th Century, Omaha would boast its “Big 4” collection of breweries and distilleries. After Prohibition and brewery consolidations closed Omaha’s local beer plants throughout the 20th Century, the last major local brewing plant closed in 1983.
Luckily for Omaha residents, it wasn’t too much later that the first craft brewery opened in Omaha. Upstream Brewing Company—Omaha’s oldest craft brewery—opened in 1996. Just three years later, Thunderhead Brewing Company started operations.
The microbrewery industry in Omaha is now teeming with craft beer makers spread throughout all corners of the city. The diversity of brewing knowledge represented throughout Omaha has resulted in a craft beer scene that offers something for all beer tourists. Whether you’re on the hunt for an historic European pilsner or a barrel aged stout, Omaha breweries have you covered.
Omaha also has plenty of unique experiences to offer visiting beer tourists. We’ve made a list of a few must-stop breweries and landmarks in Omaha to help guide you through the city. Here is a breakdown of all the best breweries, bites and sights in Omaha.
Best Breweries in Omaha
There are more than 15 breweries in and around Omaha to check out.
Where to Bag a Barrel-Aged Beer in Omaha
There are advantages to running a distillery alongside your brewing operations—just ask Brickway Brewery & Distillery. The award-winning brewhouse and distillery, found in Omaha’s bustling Old Market, utilizes its stock of spirit barrels to age some of its brews in.
Brickway Brewery & Distillery in the past has aged a Wild Ale in its whiskey barrels, and the brewery has a few whiskey barrel-aged imperial stouts on its menu. What else pairs better than a rich stout and whiskey barrels? We’ll wait for an answer.
Where to Find Light Beers
There may not be a better time to visit Nebraska than the late summer and early fall, when the state is enraptured with football fever. While the University of Nebraska’s main campus is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, the residents of Omaha have a fervent passion for their home state Cornhuskers.
Zipline Brewing Co. brews up a special beer every year to elevate any Nebraska football tailgating party. Head to the Zipline Brewing Co. taproom to try the “Dear Old Nebraska Brew,” a crushable lager that is brewed year round, but best enjoyed during football season.
Where to Snag a Sour
Vis Major Brewing Co. in Omaha specializes in brewing up drinks for beer tourists that have a particular interest in tart tastes. The brewery’s inventive flavor combinations are on full display among its sour beer and fruited ale offerings.
The Omaha brewery always has something interesting on. Whether it is a watermelon gose or a wine barrel-aged cherry ale, you’ll find something at Vis Major Brewing Co. that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
An Afternoon in Omaha
Check out this collection of local hot spots in close proximity so you can eat, drink and see Omaha in one afternoon.
The first site of Krug Brewery, founded prior to the American Civil War, is found in the historic Benson neighborhood in northwest Omaha. Today, several breweries in Benson carry on the neighborhood’s brewing traditions.
Infusion Brewing Co. now occupies a historic building in Benson that was once home to a meat market for more than 60 years. The brewery helped preserve the landmark building’s character and restored all historic finishes, including mosaic floor tile and an ornamental tin ceiling. Today, the brewery’s cozy downtown Benson taproom is the perfect place to stop while exploring nearby shops and restaurants. Infusion Brewing Co. consistently offers more than a dozen beers and other drinks on tap, with styles available for everyone. Try the brewery’s top-rated Vanilla Bean Blonde Ale, a light drink perfect for summer.
Found just one block down from Infusion Brewing Co., The Benson Brewery offers a great opportunity for visiting beer tourists to go taproom hopping. The Benson Brewery is a classic brewpub with a diverse range of beers on tap to satisfy every guest that walks through the doors.
If you’re craving European beers in an open air setting, the Bärchen Beer Garden is the perfect spot to spend your afternoon. The German-style beer garden serves imported German and Belgian beers paired with American pub fare.
There are myriad restaurants to choose from in downtown Benson, ranging from family-focused diners to chic dining rooms serving up European dishes. Good lunch options in Benson include Taco Co., which specializes in the elusive San Antonio-style puffy tacos, and the modern American Jojo’s Diner.
For a nice evening out in Benson, try to get a table at Ika Ramen. The izakaya-style eatery features a dozen quality ramen bowls, as well as a full menu of Japanese small plates. After your meal, head your way into the basement to find Kaitei, the restaurant’s hidden sake bar. The speakeasy-turned-sake spot is a highlight of Omaha’s nightlife scene, with delicious cocktails and an unforgettable ambiance.
Beercade offers a perfect nightcap to a full day in Benson. The bar features dozens of retro pinball machines and arcade cabinets for guests to play to their heart’s content, and Beercade’s beer menu boasts craft draughts from across the country.
Swing by these sites to document your trip to Omaha.
Golden Spike Monument
Head east of Omaha and cross into Council Bluffs, Iowa, to take a photo with the Golden Spike Memorial. Constructed in 1939 to promote the premier of the film “Union Pacific”, this 56-foot tall behemoth is 100 times the size of a regular railroad spike.
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium
The Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is internationally recognized for its conservation and research efforts, but visitors to the zoo can enjoy one of its many, many exhibits. The zoo and aquarium features a desert dome, a nocturnal exhibit and an aquarium with an underwater viewing tunnel.
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
Worth the Drive
Looking to get out of the city center? These nearby attractions are Worth the Drive.
Omaha is the most populous city of the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area, a massive area covered by 8 counties and 2 states. Because of the size of the Greater Omaha area, there are tons of interesting sites in the suburbs surrounding downtown Omaha that deserve the attention of visitors.
If you head west of Omaha, you’ll come across the curiously-named Boys Town. The small village was first established in 1917 as the headquarters of Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, an orphanage and educational center for the care of at-risk children. Flanagan and the center became nationally famous after a movie about Boys Town was produced in 1938. Today, visitors to Boys Town can visit the still-operating nonprofit’s historical center, which houses a 600-pound giant ball of stamps—the largest of such in the world.
While driving out to Boys Town from downtown Omaha, visitors can stop at Borsheims for some luxurious indulgence. Borsheims, first founded in 1870, has grown to become the largest fine jewelry store in the U.S.
Also located in western Omaha, Thunderhead Brewing is one of Nebraska’s oldest craft brewing institutions. Since opening in 1999, the microbrewery has produced some of the state’s most beloved ales, such as its Cropduster Mid-American IPA. Try out its Cornstalker Dark Wheat, a dunkelweizen made with wheat and malted Nebraska corn. Thunderhead Brewing is also famous for its Thunder Punch—flavored hard seltzer that was first brewed years before the current hard seltzer craze.
No visit to Omaha would be complete without visiting one of the area’s vaunted steakhouses, and few deserve your attention more than Brother Sebastian’s Steak House and Winery. The steakhouse, open since 1977, was modeled after rustic abbeys and designed to offer a reprieve from the burdens of daily life. At Brother Sebastian’s, patrons will find more than 150 bottles of internationally-sourced wine to complement the classic steak menu, featuring the restaurant’s specialty prime rib.
Interact with the map below to navigate to every stop mentioned in this article, and have fun exploring Omaha!