One of the best things about producing Beer Geeks is the opportunity to sample beers most people never get a chance to taste. The vast majority of craft breweries don't distribute nationally, or regionally, or in many cases even beyond the state or city line. So if they won’t come to me, it’s my job to go to them.
Increasingly, though, I’m not alone. More and more beer lovers are embarking on craft beer vacations. Obviously, many target the Beermuda Triangle of Portland, Colorado, and southern California. In San Diego, Beer week is estimated to generate more than half a million dollars in hotel revenue alone. And Stone Brewery is the third most popular tourist attraction in the area – after the San Diego Zoo and Legoland
But the trend is also quite visible in other places, such as the Carolinas. It’s a favorite location for western breweries like Sierra Nevada and New Belgium to set up east coast brewing operations, but it also has a thriving indigenous craft beer community with dozens of breweries and more on the way. One brewery owner in Spartanburg says he’s seeing a lot of people on “Beer Pilgrimages.”
In Delaware, Dogfish Head Brewery actually runs a small motel where beer lovers can stay when they make visit. Many even book their weddings there. And you can book beer vacations through a number of online operations (no endorsement here - I haven't tried them). But beer tourism doesn't even mean you have to stay the night. You can plan a terriffic day trip centered on a brewery or breweries in, say, the next state over (just watch your intake if you are the driver).
And in Virginia, which has nearly 100 breweries despite not generally being known as a craft beer state, tourism authorities have mapped out day trips that allow visitors to experience multiple breweries – and wineries. Yes, loving one beverage doesn’t mean you can’t love the other. In fact, the worlds of wine and beer come together on the latest episode of William Shatner’s Brown Bag Wine Tasting. Check it out:
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