Get on the Bus
Beer tourism is a hot trend these days, so why not arrange a beer-themed vacation for a group of friends? With the Internet making it extraordinarily simple to e-mail breweries for tours, make lunch and dinner group reservations, and book inexpensive hotel rooms, anyone can put together a memorable beer trip in a snap.
After choosing a beer-rich destination and getting RSVPs from your fellow beer sojourners, decide on a mode of transportation. Will participants fly or drive to the site and then walk and utilize public transportation from place to place? Should a van be rented and a designated driver decided upon from day to day? Could the group hire a local tour provider to furnish a bus and driver for the trip? Choose the option that best suits the size, budget and specific needs of the gathering.
Contact breweries, brewpubs and gourmet beer bars to set up group visits based on a leisurely schedule, taking into account extra time for traffic and delays caused by die-hard beer aficionados not wanting to leave favorite places on time. If interested, remember to include a sampling of non-beer activities for the group―museums, walking tours and outdoor markets make for welcome breaks from long days of beer consumption.
Choose brewery tours and beer tasting locales for group trips based on top ratings and recommendations from any number of websites―including Ratebeer.com, Beermapping.com, Classiccitybrew.com, the “BeerFly” section of Beeradvocate.com and the “Find Your Beer” pages of Allaboutbeer.com. For affordable hotels, Biddingfortravel.com offers tips on the best current deals on Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, and sites like Mobissimo.com and Kayak.com provide effortless, comprehensive searches for the cheapest airline tickets.
No better beer guides exist for western European beer destinations than the books and resources available from the U.K.’s Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA). Check Amazon.com or click on the “books” tab of camra.org.uk to preview available titles. To aid in navigation for the best pints of real ale in the U.K., CAMRA also offers inexpensive GPS and mobile phone app downloads of thousands of the best breweries and pubs featured in their annual Good Beer Guide.
Many individuals just starting down the road of craft beer appreciation have yet to visit a beer festival. Subscribe to e-mail lists of the best fests in the local area, grab a block of tickets and take along a group of friends. Festivals offer fun and convenient atmospheres in which to sample a huge variety of different beer styles, speak to brewers and interact with other beer lovers. After the event, friends can meet at a pub or restaurant to compare notes of favorite beers.
Mini beer fests for friends at an apartment clubhouse, mountain cabin or beach condo make for a delicious and enjoyable afternoon or evening―simply head to the best retail beer store to stock up on several six-packs from a variety of craft breweries. Invest in few plastic storage bins to use as ice trays and set up the cold brews in several areas of the facility alongside potluck appetizers. Each guest gets a tasting glass and sips different beers while mingling.