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10 Must-Sees for Every Beer-Loving Traveler
Get a taste of historic brews, beer-themed hotels and can't-miss festivals on this boozy bucket list.
Consider yourself a craft brew fan? Discover game-changing spots to take back a pint, from Denver to Dublin. (Getty Images)
Raise a glass to beer travel. These days, with craft beer's rise in popularity, it's easy for even casual drinkers to explore local drafts and bottles wherever they are. But if you're really into the world of brewing, set your sights on these top attractions, which celebrate beer, its history and the cult that surrounds the beverage.
Lewes, Delaware; Milwaukee; Escondido, California; Columbus, Ohio
One of the "hoppiest" trends in hotels these days is focused on beer. Craft beer hotels are making a splash in the U.S. and elsewhere. Joining brewery hotels such as Dogfish Head's Dogfish Inn and The Brewhouse Inn & Suites in a converted PBR factory, is the Stone Hotel, which is set to open in 2018 in Escondido, California, near San Diego. The property will have a complete focus on craft beer – think growlers on the room service menu and a free beer when you check- in. In Columbus, BrewDog is introducing the DogHouse, a crowd-funded beer hotel and brewery.
You can't make a beer bucket list without the granddaddy of all beer fests. This annual Munich festival draws huge crowds of tourists (about 6 million each year). Despite its mainstream status, it's still a must-do for any suds fan. For more than two weeks, 14 tents serve specially designated Oktoberfest Beer in a carnival-like atmosphere, complete with folk music, rides and food. It's best to start planning far in advance, as hotels and beer tents sell book up quickly. Just remember: Oktoberfest starts in September, not October.
Weihenstephan Monastery Brewery
One of the world's oldest continuously operating breweries, this former monastery has been crafting beer since 1040. Now owned by the state of Bavaria, Weihenstephan was one of the first to adhere to the 500- year- old German Beer Purity Law, which maintains strict quality control by restricting the drink’s ingredients to barley, hops, water and yeast. Today, the brewery is open for tours, some of which conclude with tastings of the signature wheat beers and lagers.
Heurich House Museum
Washington, District of Columbia
In a city known for its monumental museums, history gets a little buzz at the Heurich House Museum, which is also called the Brewmaster's Castle. The 19th-century mansion was once home to Christian Heurich, a German immigrant who became Washington's most successful brewer. It now hosts beer-and history-focused tours, where you can explore the well-preserved home and sample a flight of beer. Want another taste of brewing history? Two more museums dedicated to the art of beermaking are on the horizon. The Brew Museum, which compares itself to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (but for suds), is slated to open in 2018 in Pittsburgh, and the Chicago Brewseum, is in early planning stages in the Windy City.
Ever wanted to learn to pour a perfect pint? The Guinness Academy at this shrine to Ireland's most famous stout will teach you the six-step process. Located at Guinness' St. James's Gate Brewery, the Guinness Storehouse is a modern multilevel facility with interactive exhibits, gift shops, restaurants and multiple bars – including the glass-enclosed 360-degree top floor bar that offers sweeping city views.
This stately Gilded Age home is a testament to the power of brewing in American history. Built in 1892 by Frederick Pabst, one of America's grandest beer barons, the house now serves as a museum. Tours mostly focus on art and architecture, but shed light on how Pabst embraced new advancements such as electric light bulbs and advertising to build what became, at the time, the world's largest beer company.
Great American Beer Festival
Part party, part competition, this festival in Denver is like the Oscars of the beer world. Nearly 800 breweries come here to showcase their beers – over 7,000 beers were entered into the competition last year. The best part: it's open to the public, if you snag a ticket. If you can't make it to Colorado, there are plenty of other beer festivals to check out, including the Oregon Brewers Festival, the Vermont Brewers Festival and the Brewgrass Festival in Asheville, North Carolina.
Ever heard of Westvleteran 12? In beer circles, this is the stuff of legend. This Trappist quad-style beer has been called the best beer in the world, yet it's tough to get your hands on. Unlike other breweries-turned-visitor attractions, the Saint Sixtus Abbey in Belgium that produces the beer in small batches is not interested in going commercial. The monks here simply brew enough to support the monastery. But fret not: You can buy a small number of bottles on site, and you can taste the three brews in the adjacent cafe.
Cantillon Brewery & Brussels Museum of the Gueuze
Travel back in time to this mecca for lambic fans, known for its gueuze and kriek-style brews. The only thing about the beermaking process that has changed since 1900 is the use of organic ingredients. Museum and brewery tours are self-guided, so you can spend as much time as you want exploring the Old World equipment and techniques. Plus, at the end of the tour, you'll taste two of the beers.
Dark Lord Day
Some things are worth the wait, especially when it comes to a beer release. Three Floyds Brewing's Dark Lord Day is the pinnacle of these events; the annual release party has grown into a music festival, craft brew release and gathering of beer geeks. Once a year, the Indiana brewery releases a limited number of specialty Dark Lord bottles. They’re only available that one day, on-site at the brewery to ticket-holding attendees. Dark Lord Day has pioneered the way for other releases parties around the country, including Darkness Day at Surly Brewing in Minnesota, Hunahpu's Day in Tampa and Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Younger release, which is available once a year on draft in select cities.
About En Route
Practical advice on the art of traveling smarter with tips, tricks and intel from En Route's panel of experts.
Contributors have experience in areas ranging from family travel, adventure travel, experiential travel and budget travel to hotels, cruises and travel rewards and include Amy Whitley, Claire Volkman, Holly Johnson, Marsha Dubrow, Lyn Mettler, Sery Kim, Kyle McCarthy, Erica Lamberg, Jess Moss, Sheryl Nance-Nash, Sherry Laskin, Katie Jackson, Erin Gifford, Roger Sands, Steve Larese, Gwen Pratesi, Erin Block, Dave Parfitt, Kacey Mya, Kimberly Wilson, Susan Portnoy, Donna Tabbert Long and Kitty Bean Yancey.
Edited by Liz Weiss.
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