Blog Post Jennifer Errick Oct 27, 2015

Park-Made Beer

One national park has an on-site brewery that serves beer made from the park’s own water.

Anyone who has taken a bath in a hot spring knows how soothing it is to soak in geothermally heated water after a long day outdoors. Turns out, that water can also become a delicious post-hiking beverage.

In 2013, the Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery opened—literally, in a converted bathhouse—at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. It was the first brewery to operate inside a national park, though at the time it opened, it only served beverages made by other companies. That changed earlier this year, when the proprietors began offering a selection of craft beers made from the park’s own hot springs, including everything from ale to hefeweizen to stout, as well as non-alcoholic root beer. (Using pre-heated water apparently saves time and energy in the brewing process to boot.)

Though the Superior Bathhouse Brewery and Distillery is the only restaurant of its kind in the park system, it’s not the only place you can enjoy something tasty direct from a national park. At Capitol Reef National Park, for example, it is legal and even encouraged to pick and eat apples, apricots, cherries, peaches, and pears from the park’s historic orchards in Fruita when in season. Cuyahoga Valley National Park has its own farmers market, featuring offerings from dozens of local growers and vendors. You can even tap maple trees with rangers at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in the early spring to learn about—and help make—pure maple syrup.

Learn more about Hot Springs National Park and its 47 thermal springs with year-round temperatures of 143 degrees on the Park Service website.

Update: Since publishing this story, we’ve learned that Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, is within the boundaries of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and reportedly uses water from the Mississippi River in its brewing.

About the author

  • Jennifer Errick Managing Editor of Online Communications

    Jennifer co-produces NPCA's podcast, The Secret Lives of Parks, and writes and edits a wide variety of online content. She has won multiple awards for her audio storytelling.