How To Take an International Beer Tour
Have church key, will travel.
Travel is fun. Travel is enlightening. Travel broadens our perspective on the world around us. Travel can also be beery. That can be the most fun part.
A true beer lover will want to infuse his or her travel to a foreign land with as many new beer experiences as possible. Several beer themes lend themselves to exploration.
First on the list, and most obvious, is a sampling of beers you’ve heard of or read about, but have never found at home. Perhaps these beers aren’t sold in your state. Or maybe they’re not exported at all.
Second is a visit to breweries, large and small, and brewpubs.
Third is the seeking out of cafés, pubs, bars and restaurants that serve special beers.
Fourth, you can look for beer shops that sell the unique beers of the country you’re visiting.
Fifth, beer festivals abound in many countries at all times of the year. They can be a great destination for a beer lover.
The question is, of course, how do you find all these places?
A great first source of information is the Internet. The web is chock full of beer information. Conduct a joint search of the country you’re planning to visit and the word “beer.” You’ll be amazed at the hits you’ll get. Also, explore the website of the target country’s tourist bureau. Many beer-savvy tourist agency people know that visitors to their country enjoy food and drink as part of their visit, and beer destinations will often be listed.
For European travelers, the website of the European Beer Consumer’s Union (EBCU) (www.pint.nl/ned/ebcu-web.htm) is a great first stop. Links are available to the websites of the 12 full and associate member country beer organizations of the EBCU. Each of these sites contains a wealth of information on breweries, brewpubs, special beer cafés and festivals. If you e-mail the website’s contact address, you might even receive a reply from a fellow beer lover who can answer your specific questions.
European Pub & Beer Guides (www.xs4all.nl/~patto1ro/index.htm) is another source of European beer information. And believe me, you’ll find many more worthwhile sites.
All About Beer Magazine’s calendar (www.allaboutbeer.com/calendar/index.html) contains a listing of all of the major international beer festivals.
The beer books of the major international beer writers, such as Michael Jackson and Roger Protz, include detailed information on the beer scene in many countries.
If the website of a country’s tourist agency doesn’t provide enough beer information for you, call or write their US office. These offices are usually located in major American cities, but if there’s only one US office, it’s definitely in New York City. The trade associations of many countries are another good source.
One last piece of advice. More than likely, you’re going to want to bring home some beer. Maybe a lot of beer. There’s a great way to transport beer home and not have to lug it onto the plane: Travel with an empty piece of luggage. Well, not completely empty. Pack it with as much bubble wrap as will fit and a roll or two of strong packing tape. Before leaving for home, wrap every bottle tightly with one or two layers of bubble wrap and tape them up. Then line all sides of the piece of luggage with layers of bubble wrap. If you do a thorough job, you can check this piece of luggage through with the rest of your baggage and not a bottle will break.