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Free Beer! Brewery Tours Add Fizz To A Vacation

Brewery Tours are Great for Traveler’s Budgets

If you like a good brew, what’s better than free beer? How about learning how the brew is made, to give a better appreciation for the finished product? The stereotype of a brewery tour is schlepping through a factory to get the free samples at the end.

All aboard! Don’t fall of the wagon!!

While it is true there usually are free samples, one can actually learn a lot about the whole brewing process. It’s interesting to learn how the ingredients are blended together, how the product ferments and how the brew reaches the final drinking product.

Learning how a beer becomes what it is gives one a greater appreciation for the actual beverage.

Some brewery tours are also interesting in that they give quite a bit of information on the history of the area and how the brewery played into it.

Costs for Brewery Tours

One of the reasons brewery tours are great for budget travelers, is that they are often free or very low cost. Granted, there are the exceptions, like the Anheuser Busch tour in St. Louis, Missouri, which charges upwards of $25 a person. But for the most part, if any fee is charged, it’s under $20.

Finding Brewery Tours

Local Convention and Visitor Bureaus will have information on any brewery tours in the area. Web searches using the terms “brewery tours” and the location name will also yield suggestions.

There are quite a few tours to choose from in North America. Some of the best are

  • Stone Brewing (Escondido, CA),
  • Samuel Adams Brewery (Boston, MA),
  • Coors Brewery (Golden, CO),
  • Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. (Chippewa Falls, WI), and
  • Keith’s Brewery (Halifax, NS), one the continent’s oldest breweries.
  • Sprecher Brewery (Milwaukee, WI) is great for all ages, as it also brews sodas.

There’s no shortage of European breweries to tour either. In Ireland, try the Guiness Brewery tour. In Belgium, visit the monastery where Chimay is brewed. Switzerland is home to the Monsteiner Bier brewery. Germany is famous for its beer, so it has many breweries to choose from, including Erdinger (Munich) and Beck’s (Bremen).

Other international breweries to try include Buller Pub and Brewery in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Kiuchi Brewery in Japan.

Keep in mind the country’s legal drinking age as most brewery tours are not open to those who are not of that age.

So next time travel plans take one to an area where there are great beers, consider taking a brewery tour as part of the itinerary. Tours can be educational, fun and low cost.

Taste the World one Stein at a Time!

Beer Bucket List

Amsterdam, Netherlands
It’s not just a brewery tour; Heineken offers an “experience” through the inner-workings of one of the world’s largest beer producers. Visitors line up for the main attraction, “Brew U,” a ride where guests feel what it is like to become a beer, as they are virtually shaken up like malts, sprayed with water and put over heat.

Leuven, Belgium
This home of Stella Artois, the famous Belgian lager, offers tours for various levels of beer enthusiasm. So if you’re the sort that wants a smattering of history before bee-lining to the tasting room, the “Classic Tour” is for you. Real beer geeks can opt for the “Beer Tour,” which leads visitors through each intricate step of the brewing process.

Boston, Massachusetts
One of the founding fathers of the USA, Samuel Adams was also the founder of one of America’s original craft breweries. The museum here relates all there is to tell about the brewer and patriot, as well as the history of brewing in the US. Now only used for test batches, this was the original site for brewing the famous Boston Lager.

Hokkaido, Japan
Snowy Hokkaido, the northernmost province of Japan, has been the hub of the country’s brewing since 1877. Bring an appetite when visiting Sapporo: the beer garden, with its two restaurants, are the real draw here, especially for the all-you-can-eat BBQ and all-you-can-drink beer options at the Genghis Khan Hall.

Warnemunde, Germany
Beer and college go hand-in-hand; so it’s no mystery that one of Germany’s best pilsners is brewed in one of the world’s oldest university towns. Though the school dates back to the 15th century, Rostocker has been made in Warnemunde since 1878. The tour is popular with Baltic Sea cruisers in port for the day.

Dublin, Ireland
The world’s largest pint glass (seven stories high, and capable of holding 14.3 million pints) welcomes visitors to this landmark of Irish stout; it also houses one of the world’s most elaborate and informative brewing-themed tours. Cap off the Guinness experience in one, or both, of two terrific bars: Arthur’s, which overlooks all the machinations of the working brewery, or the Gravity Bar, which showcases 360 views of Dublin.

Ceske Budjovice, Czech Republic
Some call Budvar the “real Budweiser,” because the city of its origin is often referred to as “Budweis.” And while the U.S. and Euro camps have been arguing about the rights of the name for over a century, visitors can hear the Czech side of the story via various halls along the tour, from a log cabin depicting medieval brewing processes to a room devoted to the Industrial Age, complete with a 3D movie.

Cooperstown, New York
The town is commonly known for being the birthplace of baseball; but who knew this hamlet was historically a hotbed of U.S. hop production? The Ommegang brewery, built in 1997, has given upstate New York a little slice of Europe ever since, producing Belgian-style ales including a Witte, Rare Vos and Hennepin. The recently-opened café also focuses on Belgian fare.

Mexico City, Mexico
Since 1925, this brewery has been known for the biggest names in beer from South-of-the-Border. Corona, Pacifico, Negro Modelo and Estrella are just a few of the beers brewed at Cerveceria Modelo. The gift shop is an attraction in itself: brand loyalists make pilgrimages to pick up everything from dominoes to inflatable bottles.

Born in 1932, this ferocious brand features a colorful, modern facility that touts the beer’s artistic packaging and clever advertising throughout the years. Tiger’s bottling and canning process is particularly mesmerizing, as are some of the items in the gift shop, including a Swarovski crystal tiger figurine, for the beer drinker who has everything.

Adelaide, Australia
There’s more than one brew from DownUnder, even if one brand claims to be “Australian for beer.” Coopers, which hails from the south, is famed for its signature effervescent sparkling ale. Coopers is also making its name as the brewery with a conscience: all proceeds from tours are distributed to local charities.

Copenhagen, Denmark
Founded in 1847, Carlsberg is synonymous with Danish brewing. Tours are self-guided, so be sure not to miss the world’s largest bottle collection, an assemblage of over 22,000 unopened beers from around the globe. True rarities include the most expensive beer sold at auction and the oldest bottle in the world.

London, UK
The picturesque neighborhood of Chiswick, right on the banks of the Thames, houses Fuller’s, the makers known for an “extra special bitter.” Brewing has taken place here for over 360 years; the gorgeous lilac wisteria creeping up the building’s stone facade is even over 180 years old, the oldest in England. An antique pub, the Mawson Arms, sits on-site, too, and history buffs will especially enjoy the “vintage ale” tour, which offers tastings of rare bottles.

Fodors has more on the delicious beer vacation destinations here: