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“Will Work for Beer!”

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Actually, I’ll work for just about anything that includes travel, so if a cold glass or two of beer is part of the journey, then count me in!

Now, before you say, “I really don’t drink beer,” let me say that neither do I. But I have taken part in many sipping opportunities that have presented themselves over the years, and have come to appreciate the history, processes, varieties and flavors—like my penchant for great wine—that goes into what some refer to as one of the most creative cultures across North America and Europe.

A Growing Beer Culture

For the past 10 or so years in the U.S., beer tasting has steadily evolved from simple free beer tours at local breweries, to multi-faceted affairs coupled with outdoor activities, travel, festivals, and culinary events. So not only can you find a wide array of options within only a few miles drive from home, beer aficionados, mild enthusiasts and those who simply desire to learn more can attend any one of a number of well-known annual celebrations—all designed to showcase some of the best beers and breweries in the world.

Among these celebrations is the third annual Madison Craft Beer Week (held in conjunction with American Craft Beer Week) held in and around Madison, Wisconsin in May. The more than 100 events here encompass brewery parties and/or meet the brewer events; home brewing demonstrations and education; beer education and classes; pub crawls, bicycle tours, and historical brewery site tours; beer dinners and beer cook offs;  and cheese and beer, sausage & beer, and chocolate and beer pairings, just to name a few.

According to the folks at  American Craft Beer Week,  there are an estimated 2,400-plus small and independent craft brewers dotted across the U.S., making it, they say, “the world’s most diverse brewing destination.”

Coming Soon to a Brewery Near You

The New York City area is home to a wealth of great small and independent craft breweries, each offering their own distinctive beer practices, flavors and flair to suit your particular tastes and desires.

Many people do not know, say the folks at  Harlem Brewing Company, that African tribes brought a steep beer brewing tradition with them to America as early as the 1600s. The brewery’s mission is to carry on with that tradition includes with their signature Sugar Hill Beer, which offers an “authentic, delicious, unique taste Harlemites loved during the Renaissance.”

City Island Beer Company  takes a nautical approach by combining their passion for world class craft beer with inspiration drawn from City Island’s rich maritime history of shipbuilding craftsmanship and excellence.  Rockaway Brewing Co.,  which started as a small, summer brewing enterprise in bungalow backyards in Far Rockaway, now boasts several locations throughout the area. And who could resist a Hedonism Ale, Nor ‘Ester Ale or Euphoria Ale from  Ruckus Brewing Co.

Or, if you’d like to sip at several breweries, embark upon  The New York Beer and Brewery Tour,  featuring a handful of outstanding places dotted around the area.

In addition to great beer,  Brooklyn Brewery  presents adventures in beer tasting during their  Brooklyn Brewery Mash.  Upcoming tour cities this year include New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., the Twin Cities, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, among others.

Have Beer, Will Travel

So you want to take your beer sippin’ skills on the road, eh? Well, there’s plenty out there to satisfy your beer and travel desires all across the U.S.

In Portland, two hotels are offering adventurous beer and biking options. The “Hop in the Saddle” package at the  Jupiter Hotel  includes accommodations, a bucket of beer,the Hop in the Saddle book, and city bikes for your exploration pleasure. The “Bikes & Brews” package is offered at the  Nines Hotel, encompassing bike rental, Portland walking and biking maps, and beers from several breweries.

The  Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel  in Chicago is also offering a Bikes & Brews” package with accommodations, craft beers from local Goose Island Brewery, two full-day bike rentals and a backpack lunch for two.

In Southern California,  Brewery Tours San Diego   incorporates tastings and sightseeing at local breweries and taprooms. Each tour includes a seasoned “Beer Geek Tour Guide,” transportation to three craft breweries, a brewery production tour, up to six beer samples at each location, a barbecue meal, and souvenir tasting glass.

The company  Beer Tour USA   touts themselves as, “the original national craft brewery tour company.” Their specialty is creating prepackaged beer tours to home-grown, American-owned craft breweries and brew pubs across the country. In addition to brew pub and brewery tastings, their tours incorporate time for individual dining, shopping, historic site, beach and other local destination fun.

With so many great places out there, it would be hard—if not impossible—to choose your favorite. So if you need a little help, The Daily Meal recently published their  America’s 10 Best Brewery Visits  lists.

Another great resource is the  Brewers Association,  designed to promote and protect small and independent American brewers, their craft beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts. Their reach also includes more than 1,700 U.S. brewery members and 36,000 members.

Happy sippin’!

Written by Lysa Allman-Baldwin


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