Beer travel, isn’t it the most glorious? The anticipation of exploring craft beer in a new town/city and the then hunting, seeking and searching for all the goodness of a new place. I love traveling, and I love traveling to places and exploring their craft-beer scene. Nowadays, you can go mostly anywhere in the United States and find craft beer in towns and cities. Nowadays also you can pick your travel simply to explore beer and I will say…I’m happy with that development! Living in Beervana aka Portland for the last four years and now in Vancouver, Washington (a blooming craft-beer town!) I know others do too because I get to serve a lot of them. Plus, so many beer friends do a lot of #beertravel, and currently, I’m living through their adventures!
Whether you’ve have been making beer trips a part of your life for awhile now or you’re thinking about booking your first one in 2018, here are a few things everyone should consider before and during your beer-travel experiences!
Do your research. Prepare before you go. Do online research to discover what breweries are in and near the town/city you’re interested in. Go to your online friends on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Search hashtag #beertravel and the city’s name with #craftbeer or the state’s initials with beer (i.e. #WABeer). Ask your beer friends where they have been or heard of. Once you have your list of places to visit, look up the breweries’/taphouses’ hours. Determine when they are open to plan your trip around it. I know that sounds extreme but many breweries, especially smaller breweries, aren’t open all days and/or are even by appointment only. Often times, my days off, being in the craft-beer industry, are Mondays and Tuesdays. Well that’s when a lot of breweries’ tasting rooms are closed. Another key thing to watch is when they open. I’ve landed in a beer town so excited to start with lunch and a beer somewhere and opps…they don’t open until 3 p.m. Doing your research upfront with help you not make the mistakes I’ve made and leave you salivating!
Make a plan. Once you’ve done your research, make a plan of attack. Determine what your ‘must-visits’ are and which breweries are the ‘nice-to-visits’ or which are the ones you won’t be disappointed if we don’t get to this trip. Then, once you have your priorities straight, map out where they are in relation to one another. If you have a few days, and there are multiple areas to a city like Seattle, you may want to plan your days with one area per day to maximize efficiency and transportation moola!
Be real with your capabilities. I have a real fear of missing out when it comes to craft beer. Now don’t be like me and try to drink pints and a few of them at every brewery you go to. I mean let’s face it; when you’re objective is trying a lot of a city’s craft beer, overdoing it is only going to get you acting like tourist and one who won’t remember what she drank anyway. So, my advice, get taster trays, small sizes of multiple beers at the breweries and even share samples, pints and/or bottles with others in your group or with new friends you meet at the brewery! See over there, I’m learning!
Embrace the town you’re in! People in the town you are in are going to love to talk about their craft-beer city! Let them. And listen! I mean really listen. Not listen just enough so you can tell them about your craft-beer town. I mean listen to their passion, their stories, and their recommendations on where to visit. If you are from an amazing beer-town, stop yourself from getting into the “My town is better than your town” thoughts and/or sharing that with them. I’ve seen this all too many times and have experienced it as a beer traveler and a beer server in Portland. If and when you’ve listened to their stories and it’s right to share a little about your own beer-town, then do so. Otherwise, keep it to yourself or wait for them to ask you!
The reason I say this is two fold. One ….it’s because I would hope you want the full experience of their beer-city. The best recommendations often come from those who live in that town. See my next tip! Plus this keeps you in the moment which again creates for the best experience. Secondly, it makes you not look like an ass. Beer and beer-towns will suffer from comparisons at times. But, no one wants to hear how the breweries in Portland are better or how you believe your town is superior to the place you are in. It’s rude and creates a beer-snob out of you!
Now, forget your plan. Ask the locals/beertenders. Find the hidden gems! I know I told you to make a plan earlier but sometimes, most times, there are hidden gems of breweries that aren’t written about yet nor can be found my searching the Google. They are those that ‘Bob’ knows of at the first brewery you visit that will be happy, I mean talk-your-ear-off-about happy, to tell you about and you should verve from your plan and visit. Like all travel, sometimes just going with the flow – of the beer – is the way to go!
Wear the appropriate clothing/shoes. Especially if you are walking, plan ahead and wear the right attire. Depending on your plan or your ability to forget the plan and embrace new adventures, you may end up outside walking in hot weather or rainy weather or just walking for longer than anticipated. Be prepared for just going-for-it when you are exploring beer! My advice…sneakers and layers! Check out our Seattle video below…we found ourselves walking way longer than expected.
Happy #NationalWalkingDay Kimberly & Mike style! We are exploring and finding some amazing #craftbeer and rad #beerfriends in Seattle on our last day of vaca! Holy Mountain Brewing
Posted by Final Draft Taphouse on Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Don’t forget the taphouses/bottle shops. Especially if you are limited on time, taphouses and local bottle shops are a fantastic way to explore a lot of local beer in one place! Nowadays, taphouses and bottle shops are aplenty and many are focused on the local craft beer selection in and around their establishments. You can sample lots of different breweries in one place AND the beertenders and shopkeepers are going to be plethora of knowledge when it comes to the local craft-beer scene and where the must-visit breweries are. And if they are not, let me know, and I will give them a call and have a talk with them! Ha! Anyway, if they can’t guide you, they should be able to guide you to the guy at the bar who knows the places to go and/or local blogs/media resources to peruse to find your next spot!
Plan ahead with the transportation. Okay, if I have to tell you that you shouldn’t drive from brewery to brewery and to more breweries, this is a sad day. Think mass transit, Lyft, your boots are made for walking, and/or rely on your teetotaler husband/wife/cousin/friend, you get the point! This can be hard if things are spread out, in rural areas, or you decide to talk a local’s advice and find the hidden gem tucked away somewhere. But, it’s just too important. If you find yourself with your wheels or a rental car, of course the only thing is ‘time’ that will help you in between stops on your brewery tour!
Consider an actual brewery tour company! This is not something I do much of. Probably because I love the adventure of research and exploring craft beer towns on my own. However, there are many companies that are dedicated to giving people the true beer-town experience on a tour via van/bus! This is a great way to experience a lot of the local scene without having to worry about your own wheels!
Use some sort of tracking/documenting method! If you’re going to explore a lot of beer in your next beer-travel trip, you will want to document what you have tried. That can be via photographs, notes in your phone, handy books like 33 Books, or Untappd. Whatever your method, have one, so you can remember all the craft-beer exploring you’ve done to ensure you can show all your friends just how cool you are when you get back home!
In all seriousness though, I love exploring a city through it’s beer. Regardless of if I plan a trip for beer itself or for another reason (family, friends, a tropical get away reset!!), I think of a way to make beer a part of the adventure. There are breweries in most towns in the USA and abroad where it truly makes for a unique experience to try the city’s beer and meet some of the awesome beer friends along the way!
Do you have a favorite craft-beer town? And/or do you have other tips and tricks you’ve learned about beer travel? Share them with me in the comments!
Cheers, and happy beer traveling!