Is there anything more refreshing than a cold craft beer after experiencing the beauty of nature? McHenry County is home to many great things but these two complement each other. Whether you are a local looking to experience your community and the beauty that surrounds it, or a visitor looking for the best kept-secrets of McHenry County, this is a list to get you started.
Cary Ale House & Brewing | Fel-Pro RRR Conservation Area
3.4 miles / 7 min
Fel-Pro RRR Conservation Area is an example of protecting natural areas while providing diverse outdoor recreation opportunities. This location offers visitors activities like hiking, fishing, picnicking, sand volleyball, and disk golf. Hiking at Fel-Pro RRR is perfect for beginners. There are two options for paved paths, which both connect to further hiking opportunities. Don’t miss the portion of the hike where you will find the most instagrammable spot in the park at the bridge connecting the northern ponds.
After your scenic adventures through Fel-Pro RRR make your way to downtown Cary and grab a beer and burger from Cary Ale House & Brewing Company. Cary Ale House is a gastropub focusing on serving high-quality chef-created pub food and craft beer in a fun pub environment. Not only will you find a variety of Cary Ale House’s craft brews, but they have a great variety of tap beers, bottles, and cans available for your drinking pleasure.
Crystal Lake Brewing | Veteran Acres/ Sterne’s Woods
0.7 miles / 3 min
Veteran Acres is one of the crown jewels of the Crystal Lake Park District. This park boasts a variety of outdoor recreation opportunities like picnic shelters, a playground, a splash pad, and multiple miles of hiking trails varying in difficulty. The Prairie Trail also meanders through Veteran Acres park so if you choose to extend your adventures. Just a 15-minute walk from Veteran Acres is a local favorite, Crystal Lake Brewing. Crystal Lake Brewing is known for creating beer that is easy to drink and hard to put down. With as many as 12 different offerings on tap regularly, you will find something you’ll love. This is a BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) place, and you’re encouraged to bring your own grub or have a local restaurant deliver right to your table.
Holzlager Brewing | Emricson Park
(1.9 miles / 6 min)
The quick 1.8 mile loop through Emricson Park is perfect for the whole family. This is usually considered an easy route and is popular for biking, running and walking. This is a perfect afternoon stroll to take before heading into town to visit Holzlager Brewing Company. Holzlager brews something for the casual consumer to the craft beer aficionado and everyone in between. They also offer many non-beer options including wine, NA beer and Soda.
Kishwaukee Brewing | Kishwaukee Headwaters
(4.4 miles / 9 min)
Visitors to Kishwaukee Headwaters can enjoy a looped nature trail that traverses over a boardwalk, through wetland, sedge meadow and savanna communities. Take time ad enjoy the diverse array of prairie plants and flowers, swaying in the breeze, as grassland birds, butterflies and dragonflies dart about. The Kishwaukee River meanders throughout the western portion of McHenry County so its no wonder there are so many things named after it. After experiencing the headwaters of "The Kish" head over to Kishwaukee Brewing where they have created an open, inviting place to relax with their beers among a laid-back community of family, friends and neighbors.
McHenry Brewing Company | Moraine Hills
(4.0 miles / 8 min)
From hiking and biking to fishing and birding, Moraine Hills State Park is a recreational paradise in McHenry County. About half of the park's 2,200 acres is composed of wetlands and lakes which provide a diverse habitat that supports an abundance of plants and wildlife to enjoy along the ten-plus miles of trails. Just a few miles down the road from Moraine Hills you will find McHenry Brewing Company, a friendly neighborhood brewery where you can come to be a local. McHenry Brewing has a passion for the history of McHenry and the building they reside in.
More Brewing Co. | Deicke Park
(3.0 miles / 7 min)
This is another great loop for families. Deicke Park's 0.8 mil loop trail is perfect for running or hiking and is conveniently located near Stingray Bay and and the one of a kind Discovery Zone. Bring the whole family for an afternoon of outdoor fun, and then head down Route 47 to More Brewing Co. for dinner and drinks. More Brewing has a fabulous menu with mouth watering offerings like a Tikka Masala Platter, Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich, and Street Tacos. Wash that down with one of their many craft beer options brewed right on site, or explore their spirits, cocktails and wine options.
Scorched Earth Brewing | Prairie Trail
0.3 miles / 2 min
Whether it’s a morning trek, a family weekend ride, or part of your weekly fitness regime, hike, pedal, or roll along over 45 miles of trails offered throughout McHenry County on the Prairie Trail. There are several scenic and recreational stopping points along the Prairie Trail, including the Fox River and Larsen Prairie. Main access points to the trail are located north of Algonquin, along Main Street in Crystal Lake, at Petersen Park, and in McHenry and Glacial Park north of Ringwood. Not far from the Algonquin access point is Scorched Earth Brewing. Using local ingredients, old-world brewing techniques, and a whimsical sense for exploration, Scorched Earth Brewing hopes to challenge your notion of what beer is and inspire you to share our passion with others. Scorched Earth is also a BYOF (Bring Your Own Food) place, and they will have plenty of local menus to help you decide.
Sew Hop’d Brewery | Exner Marsh Conservation Area
(3.3 miles / 7 min)
Exner Marsh offers 1.3 miles of hiking trails within this shallow glacial lake bed. Cattails, bulrush and rice cut grass are common plants of the marsh with white water lilly, spatterdock and bladderwort the dominant plants of the shallow ponds. After a scenic hike cool off on the epic patio of Sew Hop'd Brewery. Sew Hop'd is another McHenry County brewery who takes the history of their building seriously. Located in what used to be an old dairy production facility in the early 1900's, Sew Hop'd shares its home with Union Special, a manufacturer of industrial sewing machines with a history that dates back to 1881. Almost every one of their beers eludes to their history or the history of the Huntley area.
ShadowView Brewing | Pleasant Valley Conservation Area
(6.6 miles / 12 min)
Pleasant Valley expands 2,080 acres and is a mosaic of natural areas. In addition to viewing native wildlife and plants, visitors can explore over five miles of hiking and nature trails, gather at the natural amphitheater, go fishing at the small two-acre pond, and even cross-country ski the solar lit trail in the winter. After exploring Pleasant Valley, ShadowView Brewing will be ready to welcome you with an ice cold beverage and a wood-fire pizza. ShadowView's name comes from an ancient Celtic festival, Imbolc, that is celebrated on February 1st, marking the beginning of Spring. Can you think of another Woodstock area event with a similar theme happening around the same time? We think Woodstock Willie would approve!