I feel like you’d like to know what I was drinking before, during, and after writing a blog post. A good brew really gets me in the mood and helps set the stage...for the next beer. Tonight I enjoyed a handful of IPAs from all over this great country – Stone IPA, Bear Republic Racer 5, Smutty Nose IPA, and a Butternuts Porkslap to round out of the evening. Buy these beers. Better yet, follow the rules below and find out how good they are straight from the brewers themselves.
How you ask? Well, let’s cover the ways. Brewery tours come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you’re staring through a glass window or getting down and dirty under the fermenting tanks, it’s always an experience. And that’s really the best part. Each brewery has its own soul and attitude, both as a brand and for its enthusiasts. This can be affected by local laws, and some brewers don’t always have control over all the different aspects of a brewery tour (sample size, number of samples, etc), but they always do the best they can.
I’ve gone on my fair share of brewery tours, mostly in the northeast. I aim to remedy that in the near future by travelling to visit the craft breweries across America, and I hope to do this with good friends.
Two anecdotes stand out as exceptional experiences that I’d like to share. I feel the uninitiated could be swayed to the ways of craft beer with a better understanding of what goes into their product.
1. I once visited Harpoon Brewery in Vermont, former location of Catamount brewery, along with a great friend and fellow enthusiast Chris. We arrived mid-day and off-hour from their normal tour schedule. Because we’re so charming, we talked our way into a private tour. What did this get us you ask? Really the same as everyone else, except the opportunity to ask any question you could imagine. We learned craft beer canning was up and coming way before it started getting popular. We heard small stories about growth and change in the industry that you just don’t get when in a tour with 30+ other people. It was wonderfully unique and we felt more invested in Harpoon by the time we were done.
2. Another time my girlfriend and I were visiting Portland, Maine. We hit all the hot spots; Novare Res, McGritty’s, Dewey’s, Simon’s, Grace (Check that out!), and Sebago (in our hotel). Our favorite activity was making a trek out to Rising Tide Brewery. It’s a small brewery, around since 2010, that has 22oz bombers available across Maine and Massachusetts. We randomly arrived on the day of the release of Calvera in 2013 (wheat stout, refermented with cherry puree and aged for six months in red wine barrels). Talk about luck! We waited in line to try the newest release along with their core selection and then took a small tour of their space. Master Brewer/Owner Nathan Sanborn was incredibly gracious and open with questions. I like to be really creative with my questions – can’t repeat it here, but think I accidently let myself into a little secret with master brewers…
The greatest feeling I’ve ever experienced at the end of a brewery tour is how grateful the brewers, owners, and employees of a brewery are when you genuinely thank them for the quality product they put out every day. I feel humbled by people whose passion you can taste in the quality of their beer. Maybe round two of my homebrew will feel the same.
What do you love about brewery tours? Do you have any can’t miss breweries? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!
To sample this post try:
Rising Tide Brewery – Calvera; Harpoon - IPA
Tags – Maine, Rising Tide Brewery, Vermont, Harpoon Brewery