In conjunction with the explosion in craft brewing, there is an emergence of a new form of tourism. Itineraries centered around brewing in towns across the U.S. has given rise to “Beercations”. Since there is so much great beer (over 6,000 American breweries), it can be hard for one to decide where and how to plan a Beercation.
Initially, local breweries were a side interest when we traveled. But gradually craft brewing became an essential part of each trip. Now we even plan entire trips around craft beer.
Let’s Go Learn Things about planning Beercations…
Seasonal Event Beercations
Summer is road trip season for Americans. We flock to beer festivals, outdoor taprooms and pop-up beer gardens. After a day of hiking, mountain biking, kayaking or paddle-boarding everyone wants a cold beer.
Autumn also stands out as a Beercation season. Of course Oktoberfest, the iconic late September event in Munich, Germany leads the parade. American Oktoberfests pop up in every state and county in the months of September and October. Your travels could span from Boston, MA to Bend, OR. Here in the Heartland, I can find an Oktoberfest in every direction as a day trip or weekend escape. Cincinnati and Nashville host huge celebrations perfect for beercations.
The Great American Beer Festival is a mecca-like event for beer geeks. This Denver hosted event takes over the city for 3 days in October, with 800 breweries, 3800 beers. Wouldn’t this be a fun beercation! As a matter of fact the entire state of Colorado is prime for a Beercation. See the post here.
As we immerse ourselves in craft beer and Beercations we discover hotspots across the country. Regions that serve as incubators or breeding grounds for craft brewing. These regions may revolve around hop farms, generations of beer brewing tradition, or areas known for their innovators.
For instance, the Pacific Northwest produces 70% of the hops grown in the US. The Willamette Valley in central Oregon provides a week’s worth of beercations with local hop farms dotting the countryside. In the midst sits Bend, Oregon, home to Deschutes Brewery. Deschutes, named for the local river, sets the stage for a craft brewing haven.
Yakima Valley in Washington state offers another great spot for beercations. This fertile valley is the top hop producer in the U.S. The region hosts the Fresh Hop Ale Festival in September. The festival was voted one of the top ten beer festivals in the country.
Craft Beer Incubators
Boulder, Colorado falls into the category of “bending” the rules. The atmosphere of a free-spirited college community in a state full of clean fresh air encourages innovative brewers. Go! Learn about a Beercation in Colorado. With a craft brewery literally on every corner Denver, Boulder, Longmont and Fort Collins kept us entertained. This region sets the bar high for what the craft Beercations experience can be.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin represents generations of beer brewing tradition. The birthplace of Miller, Pabst and Schlitz holds a soft spot in beer geek’s hearts. Today we don’t consider these “craft beers” but they certainly played an historical role in the industry. Wisconsin boasts over 100 craft breweries in the state including big players like New Glarus, Point and Leinenkugel( owned by Miller/Coors now). Just in the southern part of the state, which includes Milwaukee and Madison the small breweries number over 50. Of course if you are interested in comparing craft brewing vs big brewing, you will find Miller in central Milwaukee.
Another spot for craft vs big is St. Louis, Missouri. Here craft breweries literally stand in the shadow of the megalith Anheuser-Busch. Again, generations of brewing created a long standing tradition in this city. Urban Chestnut, 4 Hands and Schlafly all make the list of favorites in the St. Louis area.
Plan your Beercations
Where do you go to plan these fun trips? Because this is a popular trend it is easy to find itineraries, lists of breweries and tour companies offering to drive for you. Many state and regional tourism boards now include brewery itineraries on their websites.
Travel Wisconsin, Pure Michigan, Hawai’i Magazine, Travel Oregon. The online magazine, Craft Beer routinely shares articles on beercations. 5 Epic Craft Beer Road Trips. As Belgian beers grow in popularity so do visits to the originating country. Belgium Beer Tourism. The home of Oktoberfest, Munich, Germany is a mecca of beercations; a map on SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers guides you through the UK; the Crafty Pint highlights craft breweries in Australia; Ontario, Canada is brimming with craft beer.
Sadly, we cannot drink beer 24/7. So these itineraries work best when other fun activities are available. We like to mix in outdoor adventures, creative food, urban street art, scuba diving.
Have you found your own favorite Beercations? Share them with other readers!