Perhaps the biggest question when planning beer travel, after where to actually go, isn’t which breweries to tour or how many cases you can realistically cart home, but where to stay. Best case scenario would be to drink as many pints as you like in the brewery’s tap room and pass out on the spot, but they wouldn’t let you sleep there, right? Wrong. Here’s a look at inns and other assorted hotels and taverns that provide beer pilgrims with fresh suds and comfy beds.
Chamomile-schamomile. Herbalists and those into homeopathic remedies will confirm that hops contains natural sedative properties and those with insomnia would do well to rest their heads on hops pillows. While it’s doubtful you’ll actually find such pillows, there are accommodations on every habitable continent that continue the centuries-old tradition of coach inns providing travelers with beds and beers.
McMenamin’s Edgefield, Troutdale, OR
2126 S.W. Halsey St.
There are a great many meccas of brewing in the United States these days, but beer pilgrims know that it’s all about Beervana, aka. Portland. The city is home to some 40 breweries and counting, so it might seem strange to stay in the suburb of Troutdale, but rest assured, this is the flagship hotel among the McMenamin’s chain of pubs with lodging attached. It not only features a brewery but also a winery a vineyard, distillery, soaking pool and spa, nightly live music, and for good measure, a golf course.
Among McMenamin’s 24 brewing facilities across Oregon and Washington, nine boast hotels as part of their program to restore historic structures. One excellent option, the Kennedy School, was fashioned out of a converted elementary school in Portland’s Northeast quadrant.
Edgefield turns a former county poor farm and its 74-acres into a resort with more than 100 guest rooms starting at $70 a night as well as hostel-style rooms for the frugal traveler. Used as a hub for the craft-beer culture of Portland, it’s only a 20 minute drive to breweries such as Widmer Bros., the predominantly farmhouse style Upright, organic Hopworks, pooch-friendly Lucky Labrador, and foodie-centric Breakside.
Twenty minutes in the other direction is the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge offering hikes among Pacific Northwest waterfalls as well as the burgeoning brewery hotspot of Hood River which Full Sail Brewing calls home as well as Double Mountain and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales.
Having said that, no one would blame you for never leaving Edgefield’s grounds. There are 10 bars on site so a house-made beer (or wine or spirit) like the famous Terminator Stout is never far away. Visit in late July and you can participate in the Brew-Am golf tournament benefiting the Glen Hay Falconer Foundation, which pairs amateur golfers with local professional brewers.
The Pear Tree Inn, Oxfordshire, England
Brewery Lane, Hook Norton
Hailed as an area of outstanding natural beauty, the Cotswolds epitomize old world rustic charm. All manner of settings from stone manors and churches to gardens draw fans of European history as well as those who pursue modern leisure (rhyming with pleasure, of course) such as horseback riding or hot-air ballooning. One of the counties tucked into this southwest region is Oxfordshire, where you’ll find the village of Hook Norton. Here in 1849 is where the brewery started.
Many historic British breweries still operate inns and public houses, (abbreviated to pubs), where the beers served are tied to the local brewery thereby making them tied houses as opposed to free houses. One of four such pubs in this village is The Pear Tree Inn, named for its central fruit tree. It’s cited as a favourite by Jon Howard, press manager of the Campaign for Real Ale. Having CAMRA’s seal of approval is all-important when visiting the United Kingdom.
Howard says the Pear Tree Inn in front of the Hook Norton brewery is perfect for those who, “want a rural aesthetic (while) being able to walk right into the brewery every morning.” The inn’s pub welcomes guests with a log-burning stone fireplace and hop garlands streaming from the single wooden beam.
Hook Norton’s real ales (and beers, which are differentiated by being bottled rather than served on cask) are the epitome of British sessionable beers—low alcohol and made only from the four basic ingredients. After touring the Visitor Centre and museum, guests are welcome to sample, but no visit is replete without several proper pints of Hooky Bitter. At only 3.6 percent alcohol, you’ll be able to keep your wits about you as you stroll through the countryside. Walk to lunch at Gate Hangs High, another Hooky inn with a renowned gastro pub. Drive to nearby Hidcote Manor Gardens and Oxford University. Ideally, plan your trip for July to enjoy Music at the Crossroads, the annual music fest, and Hooky’s own Festival of Fine Ales with a lineup of casks from roughly 100 British breweries.
Ægir Brewery and Flåmsbrygga Hotel, Flåm, Norway
Boks 44, Flåm
If you’re looking for an untraditional European beer trip, sojourn north almost to the Arctic Circle. Far from cosmopolitan Oslo, tucked into the Sognefjord, Norway’s largest fjord, visitors to Flåm are greeted with snowy mountains, majestic waterfalls and craggy valleys to explore by foot or boat. A highlight is taking a fast-boat into the Nærøyfjord, the narrowest fjord in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. With tourism on the rise, Norwegian Aud Melås and Yankee Evan Lewis, who got married after meeting in one of the first American brewpubs, helped build one of Norway’s first brewpubs in 2007. A year after Ægir launched, the Flåmsbrygga Hotel opened as well, where rooms begin at roughly $175 per night.
Norway is rapidly becoming northern Europe’s craft-brewing hotspot thanks to the likes of Nøgne Ø and Ægir’s new production facility near the pub went online this April. Visiting other Norwegian breweries would take a bit of driving, says Lewis. So tours of Ægir are readily arranged and the design of the pub, based on the union of Old Norse and local tradition with lots of wood paneling, is visually striking, beginning with the massive fireplace serving as an inviting centerpiece.
Becauset Lewis learned to brew in America, don’t look for anything like a traditional Norwegian Farmhouse ale. The beers—served in tuliped German wheat glasses—range from Harvest Ale, akin to an American Pale Ale to Tors Hammer barleywine. Visit during the winter and you can compare and contrast two different Christmas beers. Lewis says that one is a mild, 4.7 percent alcohol while the other, at 7 percent, is a big pungent Belgian-inspired brew that sells at the state-monopoly liquor stores. “In Norway, nothing over 4.7 percent can be sold in a grocery store,” he says. The kitchen staff marinates the shrimp in the Harvest Ale, braises the lamb shank in the porter, and Lewis pairs blue cheese with local honey and the barleywine, a personal favorite.
The Kerry, Shanghai, China
1388 Hua Mu Road, Shanghai
In the most populous country in the world, Shanghai is the largest city. With nearly 18 million people, we’re talking more residents than New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston combined. With that many people, it’s no wonder there’s an oasis such as The Kerry, billed as “lifestyle hotel,” in a skyscraper in the Pudong district. As one would expect, luxury comes at a price, which in this case is about $365 a night double occupancy.
Designed for business and recreational travelers alike, this hotel is the real deal. Adults can find endless ways to exercise or just relax at The Spa while kids can be entertained for hours at The Adventure Zone. More importantly are the offerings to whet your appetite and whistle at The Cook (restaurant), The Meet (lounge), and The Brew (1,200-liter brew system surrounded by glass with a spiral staircase that leads up to the fermentation cellar.
Brewmaster Leon Mickelson has 14 years of experience throughout Australasia and his seven house taps range from a low carb lager and a classic pilsner, to an IPA, Belgian wit and a vanilla milk coffee stout. But that’s not all. Mickelson always has a seasonal beer, anything from traditional English styles to unique Asian-inspired beers such as his Green Tea Lager. He says the Sichuan Peppercorn Hotpot Ale “was created from my love of the Chinese spicy hot pot that is so easily available throughout the city.” To brew it, he added the five popular Chinese spices: star anise, cinnamon, cloves, fennel, “and of course Sichuan pepper corn” to the kettle for an ale that comes out a rich, ruby red like the peppers but is still on the malty side. It comes in at 6.3 percent alcohol for a beer he both locals and ex-pats appreciate. He also makes hard cider in house. While the beers are best enjoyed in The Brew, hotel guests will find two complimentary bottles in their minibars.
Because Mickelson actively promotes craft beer in China, he’s quick to point out that Boxing Cat and Dr. Beer are two other breweries near The Kerry, each an inexpensive 20-minute cab ride away. For non-beer pursuits, Lisa Low, The Kerry’s director of communications, offers some tasty suggestions. Visit Tian Zi Fang among the alleys that make up Tai Kang Lu, the quaint art-deco district with galleries and bistro cafes aplenty. Take a tour of the city in a vintage side-car. And, though you’ll probably fill up on Shanghai-style dumplings, she insists you “do not leave Shanghai until you’ve had a meal at Jesse and/or Chun, two of the best holes-in-the-wall Shanghainese restaurants.” But make a reservation.
Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel, Sydney, Australia
16 Kent St.
Close to 150 breweries with pubs have sprang up Down Under. About a dozen have surfaced in Sydney where people flock to landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Though some new breweries in Melbourne appear to be hotels—at least that’s what you might expect of The Portland Hotel or Bell’s Hotel— you’ll visit these brewpubs to discover you’re wrong. Call it an Aussie quirk. Fortuitously, Sydney offers truth in advertising.
The Lord Nelson Hotel was founded in 1841 and openedAustralia’s first modern brewpub in 1985. Housed in a heritage-listed sandstone building, there are always six house beers served alongside classic English pub grub. All but one of their ales weighs in at 5 percent alcohol or less Their flagship, Old Admiral dark ale, is the one to order first while Three Sheets, dubbed an Australian Pale Ale, is regarded as a house favorite. Note that rooms start at $130 AUS (with an exchange rate that’s almost one-to-one per US dollar but less so in Americans’ favor), or if you’d like your own private bathroom, those suites run $190.
Amble over to the Australian Heritage Hotel, referred to as The Australian, or simply the Aussie, which is another true B, B, & B (bed, breakfast, and beer). Their ambitious beer program features 10 draught offerings and more than 120 bottles, 47 from Sydney. Scharer’s Lager is a house beer named after Geoffrey Scharer who used to own and run the pub and brew his own beer. Rooms start at $99 and the hotel is central to soaking up the local flavor–literally. The main attractions on the pub’s menu are the gourmet pizzas topped with local fauna: kangaroo, crocodile, emu, and barramundi. The meat on the ‘roo pizza is marinated in roasted native capsicum and cranberries, and the recommended beer pairing is Boag’s Premium. If you order the pie with salt-water croc (marinated in spicy coconut cream and Thai herbs), pair it with Gulf Brewery’s Humpback Pale Ale.
Hops Hollow Brewpub and Country House, Mpumalanga, South Africa
At the Milstone 22/2 on the Long Tom Pass, Lydenburg;
About 200 miles from Johannesburg on your way to Kruger National Park exists the best oasis imaginable—a brewery that will could keep you from driving all the way to the park in one shot. Kruger is one of the largest game reserves in Africa at over 7,500 square miles and it contains about 150 species of large mammals including The Big Five: lions, elephants, leopards, cape buffalo and rhinos. And shooting game with your camera in the African heat builds up quite a thirst.
The brewery was built in 2001 by Theo and Sarie de Beer who were clearly destined to create such a thing. Four years ago, Willie and Magdaleen Botha took over the B&B and are planning on expanding the brewery. Beers such as Diggers Draught, a kölsch-style beer, prove popular among locals and visitors, and it’s even made with South African-grown hops cultivated from Saaz and Hallertaus.
There are only a handful of rooms but part of the allure is getting away from it all; though it’s also regarded as being family-friendly. The breakfast that’s included is prepared to order, down to the naartjie juice, a local fruit similar to tangerines. It’s expensive getting to Africa, but once you’re at Hops Hollow, rooms start at about $65 and the nearby fishing is free. Getting to see endangered rhinos in Kruger is priceless.
Volcano Brewing and Lakeview Hotel, Costa Rica
Route 142 in Lake Arenal;
In an episode of Modern Family, the aloof dad character of Phil Dunphy says to his wife about Costa Ricans: “It’s a progressive culture. Most of them travel by zipline.” It’s precisely the ecotourism that attracts more than 2 million people a year for white water rafting and kayaking, or more subdued aquatic pursuits such as soaking in hot springs and warm waterfalls. One of the most picturesque water features is Lake Arenal in the northern Highlands, set against Arenal Volcano. You can ride your bike around the lake over the course of a day, but when you’re done you’ll be pretty tired. And thirsty.
Volcano Brewery and Lakeside Hotel is a new option for visitors and the first of its kind in this Central American country. Of their flagship Witch’s Rock Pale Ale, they say it “pairs well with a long hike around the Arenal Volcano, where you’ll discover more shades of green and more types of wildlife than you could ever imagine… where (you’ll see) butterflies the size of your hand and views that can make a grown man cry in awe.”
As part of the brightly painted hotel, the Volcano Brewing Tavern is one of the most unique pubs in the world. Much of the food comes from their own Eco Farm. From the salad greens to the pork and poultry, even the dairy products are made within eyesight. The tilapia comes right out of the lake, and if you take cream in your morning coffee (Costa Rican coffee, of course), it doesn’t come any fresher. The Tico Farmer’s Feast breakfast is included with your room, which starts at $60 a night.
This being a beer trip, at Volcano you can sample the entire array of Costa Rican microbrews—all two of them—in one gorgeous spot.
Brian Yaeger is the author of Red, White, and Brew: An American Beer Odyssey.