Navigating the Bloomington Indiana Brewery Scene (2024)

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Welcome to Bloomington, Indiana—a charming city known for its vibrant culture and Indiana University plus a burgeoning hub for craft beer enthusiasts. Over the past few years, Bloomington has quietly but impressively cultivated a Bloomington Indiana brewery scene that rivals even the most established beer cities. This growth has brewed a deep sense of pride among locals and a buzz of excitement from visitors eager to taste their way through the city.

Once my daughter chose IU as her home for college, we began making frequent trips to visit – and lucky for me it’s just a quick hour and a half from Noblesville Indiana! As huge fans of local breweries of course we’ve made it our mission to check out all the Bloomington Indiana breweries. And as I’ve discovered, whether you’re a casual sipper or a beer connoisseur, there’s a brewery in Bloomington that will catch your palate and perhaps even surprise you!

Need a place to stay in Bloomington? One of my favorites is the SpringHill Suites with its fantastic location downtown.

Glass of beer

A Guide to Each Bloomington Indiana Brewery

1. Bloomington Brewing Co: The Trailblazer

Bloomington Brewing Co., one of the first breweries to kick off the craft beer movement in Bloomington, stands out as a pioneer in the local scene (definitely one of the OGs!). Located near downtown Bloomington, this brewery has built a solid reputation for producing distinctive ales using locally sourced ingredients.

Bloomington Brewing Co, was originally housed within Lennie’s (which has AMAZING pizza), and that’s where you can find the official taproom, so be sure to go when you are hungry as beer & good pizza is a killer combination!

Bloomington Brewing Co, 514 E Kirkwood Avenue

Outside of the Wood Shop in Bloomington Indiana

2. Upland Wood Shop: The Innovator

The Wood Shop, part of Upland Brewing Co., specializes in sour ales and offers a unique twist on the traditional brewery experience in Bloomington. Just a short walk from the main Upland campus, this distinct spot focuses on crafting and experimenting with barrel-aged sour ales, and as a lover of sours, this is one of my favorite unique breweries in Bloomington – during COVID we picked up a case of sours and enjoying a bottle by the firepit in the evening was one of our favorite things to do!

The modern, industrial space, complete with a view of the barrels where the magic happens, provides an ideal backdrop for tasting sessions. Whether you’re new to sour beers or a devoted fan, the Wood Shop is well worth a visit just because it’s so different from your traditional Bloomington Breweries.

The Wood Shop, 350 W. 11th Street

Outside of Upland Brewing in Bloomington Indiana

3. Upland Brewing: The Go-To

Speaking of Upland, Upland Brewing is always a great go-to in Bloomington. We’ve visited most of the Upland Brewery locations (Carmel, Fountain Square, and Columbus to name a few), and so if we are in the mood for good beer, good food, and a fun atmosphere, we can always count on a trip to Upland Brewery.

It’s open more hours than the Wood Shop, but if they are both open it’s fun to have a delicious dinner at Upland and then walk over to the Wood Shop for sour tastings since they are right next to each other. The atmosphere at Upland Bloomington is casual and they have a wonderful outside patio if the weather is nice.

Upland Brewing, 350 W. 11th Street

Outside of Heartwork Brewing in Bloomington Indiana

4. Heartwork: The Newcomer

Heartwork Brewing is a great newer addition to Bloomington’s brewery scene, boasting a blend of local charm and innovation. Founded in 2021 and officially opened in late 2023, this independent, family-owned, and veteran-owned brewery focuses on small-batch brewing, with a special emphasis on crafting high-quality lagers.

At Heartwork Brewing, there’s a clear dedication to pushing the boundaries of modern brewing and hospitality. Something that’s really unique about them is that they filter their water and build mineral profiles with reverse osmosis – Heartwork Brewing is the only brewery in Bloomington to do this! It means that they can build their water profile based on the type of beer they are brewing – cool, right?

Heartwork Brewing, 1703 N. College

salmon salad from The Tap in Bloomington Indiana

5. The Tap: The Crowd Pleaser

Located in downtown Bloomington, The Tap is a great spot to hit up if you have a larger group. There is plenty of indoor seating, although I love to sit outside and people-watch – there is always something happening downtown! Although there are two other Tap locations (Indianapolis and the Indy airport), Bloomington is my favorite!

On our last visit we enjoyed a delicious dinner along with a super yummy fruited beer. The Tap has a LOT of different beers on tap, and the selection changes often, so you’d be pretty hard-pressed not to find something you enjoy. They do have their own beers too, so definitely give those a try before you make a final selection. Another plus to the Tap is that they are open every day starting at 11:00 – many breweries aren’t open on Mondays or for lunch.

The Tap, 101 North College Avenue

Metal Works Brewing Company sign

6. Metal Works Brewing Company: Downtown Brews & Games

Also located in downtown Bloomington is Metal Works Brewing Company. Metal Works Brewing Company really brings something special to downtown Bloomington, mixing great beer with top-notch food. In the kitchen, the local chef whips up dishes that keep everyone coming back for more. He uses fresh, local ingredients to craft a menu that changes with the seasons, always keeping things interesting and tasty.

The whole place is set up to be super welcoming and family-friendly. There’s plenty of room for big groups, and they’ve got all sorts of games for every age. Local metal artists can show and sell their work, and the frequent live acoustic music sets just the right mood. Plus, they have a big patio for warm weather and they’ve got brunch on weekends – and I know we aren’t the only family with an IU student who is always looking for a great brunch spot for weekend visits!

Metal Works Brewing Company, 108 East 6th Street

meatballs from Switchyard Brewing in Bloomington Indiana

7. Switchyard Brewing Company: Good Food & Good Beer

The last (but not least) Bloomington brewery I want to share is Switchyard Brewing Company. On our last visit, we sat outside on the dog-friendly patio and enjoyed amazing NY-style pizza (HUGE slices), delicious meatballs (I’m still dreaming about them) and of course great beer.

Switchyard also has weekly events such as trivia, live music, etc., and for those non-beer lovers, they do offer cider on draft. Within walking distance of downtown, Switchyard is a terrific option if you want to find a place to just sit and hang out with friends and family.

Switchyard Brewing Company, 419 North Walnut Street

Why Bloomington’s Breweries Stand Out

Bloomington’s breweries really make their mark by doing things their own way and keeping it all about the community. What sets them apart isn’t just the quality of the beer—which is top-notch, by the way—but how they’re rooted right here in Bloomington.

Each brewery has its own flavor, and not just in terms of beer. They each bring something unique to the table, whether it’s their dedication to local ingredients, their environmental efforts, or how they turn their spaces into local hangouts that everyone from families to students, can enjoy.

Sign for Upland Brewing on outside of building

Planning Your Bloomington Brewery Visits

Planning your brewery visits in Bloomington is all about making the most of your time and tasting as many great beers as you (safely) can. After many brewery visits, we’ve got it down to a science, so here’s how to do it right:

Start with a Game Plan: Decide which breweries you want to hit up first. Maybe you’re into trying the boldest flavors, or perhaps you’re just looking for a spot with a great patio. Check out their websites or social media to see what’s on tap and any special events they might be hosting.

Map It Out: Bloomington’s breweries are pretty close together, but if you plan on visiting more than one, it’s still smart to map your route in advance. A few of them you could actually manage to visit on foot.

Timing Is Everything: Weekends can get busy, and so can evenings. If you prefer a quieter experience where you might chat with the brewers or staff, try visiting on a weekday afternoon. But, be sure they are open because some breweries aren’t open every day and don’t open until 4:00.

Stay Safe: If you’re sampling several beers, it’s important to do so responsibly. Plan for a designated driver, walk or call an Uber/Lyft to ensure you and everyone else on the road stays safe.

Make a Day of It: Many breweries in Bloomington also offer tours, food, and even games. If you have an entire free day, check out what else is available to turn your brewery visits into a full day of fun.

Typically we just hit up one brewery in Bloomington at a time, but we have done “brewery crawl” weekend trips in other locations, and following all of these tips makes for a much better experience!

Map of Bloomington Indiana Breweries

FAQs: Breweries in Bloomington IN

Are there any Bloomington Indiana brewery tours?

The Wood Shop offers tours from time to time which is a great way to learn about their unique process for brewing sours.

What is the Bloomington Indiana brewery history?

Bloomington Brewing opened in 1994 and seems to be the earliest commercial brewery in Bloomington Indiana.

What is the most popular Bloomington Indiana Brewery?

It all depends upon what type of beer you are interested in trying.

Upland Sour Ale bottle

Conclusion: The Bloomington Indiana Brewery Scene

As you can tell, Bloomington isn’t just home to Indiana University and its lively student culture; it’s a thriving hotspot for craft beer lovers too. We’ve had a ton of fun checking them all out and I’m always on the lookout for new ones entering the scene.

Whether you like sours (go to the Wood Shop) or lagers (Heartworks is for you) there’s always a new flavor to discover and a new spot to call your favorite. So, do what we do and drop by for a full meal or a quick drink, or consider a leisurely afternoon of brewery-hopping – I’m sure we’ll get around to this in Bloomington at some point. Regardless, you’ll be happy with your choices of Indiana Bloomington breweries, and get a chance to try some yummy brews!


Discover the Bloomington Brewery Scene