Beer Trekking: 8 Trips for Brewski-Lovers

Beer Trek #1: Take a Guided, Multi-Brewery Tour Through "Beer Country"

Although the idea of driving through "beer country" might sound ridiculous, it's not that far off from a growing trend for veritable beer trekkers. Just like oenophiles, who have long enjoyed guided, driven tours through their Napas and Sonomas, beer-lovers, too, now have a number of regional and urban options for guided beer adventures, with multi-brewery tours and brew buses to top destinations for crafted stouts, lagers and ales.

Reserve a spot on one of America's popular multi-brewery tours and leave the driving to someone else, so you can properly enjoy your visit to newly brewed "beer country."

Boulder Brew Bus - Boulder, CO
For more than 20 years, The West End Tavern has been pleasing its beer-loving patrons, but the owners just kicked it up a notch in June 2010, by beginning to offer Banjo Billy's Boulder Brew Bus excursions (pictured). The popular three-stop tour includes VIP access and samplings at Upslope Brewery, Twisted Pine Brewery and Avery Brewing Company. Special and extended half-day tours to additional breweries are also offered seasonally.

Brewery Adventures in Northern California - San Francisco, CA
Fill your day on a six-hour tour of three breweries, with beer tastings, souvenirs and a gourmet lunch. Brewery Adventures' stops include Beer Republic Brewing Company, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and either Stumpton Brewery or Hop Monk Tavern. Choose one of two pick-up locations, at Fort Mason in San Francisco or at Manzanita Park and Ride in Mill Valley.

Brewery Tours of San Diego - San Diego, CA
In a town known for fish tacos and avid sports fans, it's no wonder the microbrew has grown to be another of San Diego's finest complements. Brewery Tours of San Diego offers public tours seven days a week to Ballast Point, San Marcos Brewery and Stone Brewing Co., with ample beer tastings, a lunch and souvenir glass. Advance reservations are highly recommended for weekends.

Burlington Brew Tours - Burlington, VT
Enjoy more than 20 crafted beers on the popular four-hour Classic Beer Tour to Magic Hat, Switchback, Vermont Pub, and Zero-Gravity breweries, or more on a Stowe Beer Adventure to other suds-stops. Lunch is included, and beer trekkers can choose the pick-up and drop-off location for their tour.

Denver Microbrew Tour - Denver, CO
Explore Denver's historic LoDo district on a two-hour guided walking tour with beer tastings at several microbreweries, including Great Divide Brewing Company and Rock Bottom Brewery. Tours start at different breweries depending on the time and day. Advance tickets are required for all tours.

Hudson Valley Beer Tours - New York, NY
Tour several breweries in the Hudson Valley area on the popular "Little Beer Bus." To go on a tour, you need a minimum of five passengers, and groups can be picked up in the tri-state area surrounding Manhattan. Make stops at Defiant Brewing Company, Captain Lawrence, Keegan Ales and other breweries, from Pearl River to Kingston.

Milwaukee Brewery Tours by Boat - Milwaukee, WI
Cruise for brews in America's famous beer town. Take a riverwalk boat tour to three of Milwaukee's most popular breweries, aboard The Brew City Queen II or The Maiden. The four-hour tours stop for brewery tours and samples at The Milwaukee Ale House, Lakefront Brewery and Rock Bottom Brewery. Advance tickets are required.

Motor City Brew Tours - Royal Oak, MI
Sample Michigan-made brews and grab your growlers in the greater Detroit area. Five-hour tours stop at three local breweries and include brewer-led tours and three samples at each brewery, as well a light lunch and snacks. All tours depart from downtown Royal Oak. Codder Canyon, Black Lotus, Sherwood and Arbor Brewing are just a few of the breweries often included.

Portland Brew Bus - Portland, OR
Brush up on your lagers, stouts, ales, porters and hefeweizens, and learn why many consider Portland the microbrew capital of America. Hop on the Portland Brew Bus for tours of three or four breweries and sample a dozen or two crafted beers, keeping track of your favorites on your personal scorecard. Public tours depart from the DoubleTree Hotel near the Lloyd Center, but chartered tours can arrange pick-up and drop-off locations.

Beer Trekking 101: Traveling for Brews

So What's a Beer Trek?

As American craft breweries have grown from a mere handful to more than 1,400 in the past thirty years, beer has evolved to the level of wine in connoisseurship -- and it's no surprise. With beer sommeliers, brewer awards, beer tours and sold-out beer festivals, the lager-loving trend has fostered a new generation of beer-lovers, causing many Americans to embrace the motto: "Want beer, will travel!" Thus, the beer trek.

Rules for a Proper Beer Trek:

1. Gather a group of friends -- the more the merrier. It's always good to include at least one new beer trekker.

2. Travel together to a primo beer destination or event, or tour a series of microbreweries or brew pubs (three's a good number). Don't just show up individually. True treks are group outings.

3. Sample a "trek of beer," which is a range of five to nine brews (not necessarily at the same sitting). And don't call it a "flight of beer." The better term is "trek." Flights are for wine, treks for beer.

4. Complement the brews with food pairings, if you want to complete an official "master trek." Test your sommelier skills, or seek the wisdom of a Cicerone.

5. Please drink responsibly, as always. Be the boss of the brew. Don't let it be the boss of you. Designate a driver, too.

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