The Lake of the Ozarks has a well-established reputation for being an easy-going vacation destination. The area’s flourishing hand-crafted beverage industry epitomizes that laid-back lifestyle while offering excellent products that are easy to enjoy without any fuss. The Lake of the Ozarks’ award-winning microbreweries, wineries, and distillery each offer their own take on popular beverage styles in fun and inviting locations complete with live music, food, snacks, board games, and yard games, too, providing an environment that all can enjoy.
“We have so many great little wineries and breweries at the Lake of the Ozarks, with several opening up recently, providing even more options for an enjoyable outing with friends and family,” says Lagina Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Tri-County Lodging Association. “The rolling Ozark hills and our rugged terrain have always been fertile grounds for vineyards and wineries, but we’ve recently seen a surge in microbreweries opening up in the area as well as a couple more wineries, which has been very popular with visitors and locals alike. Each of these establishments provides a fun atmosphere where you can hang out and enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening with your favorite people. It’s a lovely way to spend part of a day.”
The Lake of the Ozarks’ five unique breweries produce classic styles of ales and lagers as well as inspired, creative twists on old favorites to craft new flavors and fusions. If a pint of a local, craft-made beer is what a visitor is after, they will surely find it at the Lake of the Ozarks. And, if the available selection of brews is too hard to pick from, patrons can enjoy sample flights of their choosing.
The Lake’s first microbrewery, Bee’s Knees Ale House, which opened in 2016, offers hand-crafted brews, pizza, and live entertainment. At the brewery, eight beers remain on tap year around with two additional taps changing seasonally. Bee’s Knees’ brews feature honey and honey malt, which pay homage to the company name. Some of the favorite brews at this establishment include the Electric Nectar Honey Blonde, Hazy Hive Hefeweizen, the Colony Pale Ale, and the Six Feet Bee-Low. This fun, eclectic brewery is locally-owned and operated and located in the historic downtown of Versailles on the west side of the Lake of the Ozarks. Come for the pizza and/or the nachos, live music, and enjoy the cool environment and the tasty home-brewed beverages.
While relatively new to the Lake area, the Lake of the Ozarks Brewing Company (LOZBC), located in Osage Beach, quickly established itself as a local favorite. One of two independent Lake-area microbreweries that opened in 2019 (LOZBC and Ozark Brewery), Lake of the Ozarks Brewing Company has been recognized by readers of Lake Lifestyles Magazine as the “Best Place to Grab a Beer” at the Lake for the last three years in a row. This family-owned and operated brewery features a selection of beer varieties, all named in tribute to Lake of the Ozarks landmarks, such as the Bagnell Brown (in honor of the Bagnell Dam which created the Lake in 1931); Grand Glaize Haze IPA, Little Niangua IPA, Big Niangua IPA and Osage River Red (all named after four of the Lake’s tributaries); and the PB #2, a peanut butter-chocolate stout named after Public Beach #2 at Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Additionally, patrons at LOZBC can enjoy a curated menu of house-made pizzas as well as light pub fare to complement their beverages of choice.
Ozark Brewery, located in Osage Beach, is an offshoot of the Ozark Distillery, the Lake’s celebrated spirit distillery. Ozark Brewery, which was named the Lake’s “Best Brewery” by Second Home Living Magazine, sets adjacent to the distillery and offers a Lake Time Lager, Lemon Kölsch, Beach Blonde Ale, Crazy Daisy Almost Hazy IPA, Bourbon Barrel Stout and a rotating seasonal selection. Patrons at Ozark Brewery can enjoy homemade pizza or complimentary popcorn with their beer of choice. And, next door at Ozark Distillery, which was named the “Best Kept Secret at the Lake,” patrons can sample several flavors of Ozark Moonshine (Apple Pie, Blackberry, Butterscotch, Cinnamon, Sweet Tea and Vanilla Bean) as well as their own made-in-house vodka and/or bourbon whiskey. The distillery’s spirits are crafted from locally sourced grains and limestone-rich water providing complex flavors from a traditional distilling method. Distillery tours are open and available to the public on select Saturdays for anyone that is interested in learning about the distilling process. Tours last between 45 minutes to an hour. To learn more about the brewery, distillery and/or to book a distillery tour, visit www.OzarkDistillery.com.
Shortleaf Brewing Company, whose flagship brewery is located in O’Fallon, Mo. expanded by opening a second location at the Lake of the Ozarks in Camdenton during the summer of 2022. This family-owned and operated brewery has already established itself as a serious contender by bringing home a bronze medal at the prestigious 2023 Great American Beer Festival held in Denver. Shortleaf’s “MexicAle,” a tart, fruity sour gose made with Himalayan pink salt and ley lime, received third place in the Contemporary Gose category. Shortleaf features 24 different brews, including the “AmericAle,” “Bow Rider Wheat,” “No Wake West Coast IPA,” and the “Kick Back Brown Ale,” to name but a few. Additionally, Swallowtail Farm-to-Table Scratch Kitchen sets up their food truck at Shortleaf Thursdays through Sundays for any guests looking for some delicious, made-from-scratch, upscale menu items to accompany their brews. Swallowtail’s food truck menu includes Chicken-fried Buns, Short Rib Corndog Bites and the Swallowtail Smashburger, among others.
You could say that the owners of The Sanctuary Brewery took Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote seriously: “Beer is proof God loves us and wants us to be happy.” The Sanctuary Brewery, located in a converted church complete with stained glass windows in Osage Beach, opened in late June 2023. In just a short few months, The Sanctuary has already made a splash with its first homebrews, including the Ozark Easy Blonde Ale, Bob Light Lager, Wakeboard Wit and Dad Bod Stout. The Sanctuary also offers complimentary popcorn and an impressive selection of light fare, including charcuterie boards and other tasty treats, for anyone feeling a little peckish.
When it comes to wine, the Lake of the Ozarks has several proven winners. The Lake’s different wineries provide visitors with the opportunity to sample some of the best local wines and enjoy vineyard views at five different stops. Visitors will find a variety of vintages for tasting and amenities such as food to complement the wine, gift shops, picnic tables and more. Each winery has its own unique sights, sounds, smells and tastes to excite the senses and create lasting memories. So, stop by and enjoy the fruits of the local winemakers’ labor.
Dale Hollow Winery and Vineyard, which opened in 2017, is a family-owned-and-operated winery located near the town of Stover, where every step of the viticulture process is handled on-site: planting, pruning, harvesting, crushing, pressing, fermenting, bottling, aging, and tasting. The winery and tasting room at Dale Hollow overlooks 10 scenic acres of vineyards planted with eight different grape varieties, including both white and red wine grapes. Dale Hollow’s most popular wines include several award-winning selections, including the “Knockout Red,” which won Double Gold at the prestigious Jefferson Cup Invitational Wine Competition. Other notable selections include the “Blossom” sweet white, the “Concord” sweet red, the “Norton,” a dry red and the “Chambourcin” dry red.
The newest member of the Lake of the Ozarks’ winery scene is Mathany Family Vineyards. Three years ago, the Mathany family began growing grapes on their 160-acre family farm near Brumley with dreams of owning and operating their own winery. That dream came to fruition in early fall 2023 with a new 10,000-square-foot production facility and tasting room in Lake Ozark that is open to the public. Prior to establishing his own vineyard and winery, co-owner and winemaker Jedidiah Mathany worked at Stone Hill Winery in Hermann and studied and worked at multiple vineyards and wineries in Napa, France, Australia and New Zealand. The Mathany family currently offers six wines: Norton, Chardonel, Vidal Blanc, Chambourcin, Moscato and Chambourcin Reserve.
Seven Springs Winery sits atop 160 acres of rolling Missouri foothills near the town of Linn Creek, located between the Lake communities of Osage Beach and Camdenton. The covered porch and patio area are ideal for enjoying a glass of wine and admiring the beautiful views of the rolling hills and vineyard. Seven Springs serves Missouri wines, sangrias, and a few microbrews for those with an alternative pallet. Visitors can enjoy one of their signature wines like “Traminette” white or “Seven’s Red Heaven.” The winery also offers wine tastings and a light menu for lunch and a full dinner menu in the evening. Additionally, Seven Springs has nearly three miles of manicured walking trails around the property that provide guests an opportunity to stroll the grounds and walk amongst the growing grapes in the vineyard. Seven Springs also is a popular wedding destination and location for special events, such as the annual “Wine in the Vines” 5k run/walk that takes place on Seven Springs’ beautiful trails.
Shawnee Bluff Winery in Lake Ozark is an excellent spot for celebrating the “everyday.” Shawnee Bluff offers a tapas menu, brick oven pizzas, and wine tastings by the glass or bottle. Shawnee’s most popular Missouri-made whites are the “Bluff Breeze,” “Flappers and Philosophers,” and “Sweet Speakeasy.” Their most popular reds include the “Retro Red,” “Double Bluff,” “Sweet Bluff” and a Norton. Guests can enjoy any of Shawnee’s offerings in the indoor tasting room and bistro, or on their outdoor patio and decks with incredible panoramic views of the Lake of the Ozarks expanding toward the horizon. Shawnee Bluff Winery also offers quaint inn-style rooms for guests that would like to overnight at the winery. Shawnee’s second location, Shawnee Bluff Vineyard near Eldon, is situated on 40 scenic acres of rolling pastures lined with rows of grapevines. The Vineyard is available for special occasions and private parties and is a very popular wedding venue for soon-to-be brides and grooms.
A selection of the Lake of the Ozarks’ locally-produced beers, wines and spirits are available for purchase in local liquor and grocery stores and some are available throughout the state as well. They also can be enjoyed at many of the Lake’s most popular restaurants to complete a perfect palette of local flavors. No matter what brings a traveler to the area, there will be plenty of opportunities to sample the “spirit” of the Lake of the Ozarks. Visitors should always remember to enjoy themselves responsibly and to always have a designated driver or a designated captain.
At the Lake of the Ozarks, vacationers can choose from full-service luxury resorts, family-owned resorts, charming bed and breakfasts, rustic cabins, campgrounds and RV parks, spacious vacation rental homes and condominiums, as well as hotels and motels to complete the perfect Lake stay.
The nation’s “Best Recreational Lake” and “Best Lake for Water Sports” has activities and events for every age and interest. To learn more about these, plus dining and accommodation options, call the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau (CVB) at 1-800-FUN-LAKE, or visit the CVB’s award-winning website at www.FunLake.com.