Beer is a major motivator, and now more than ever, our favorite beverage is rousing likeminded beer-lovers around the world to pack their bags and hit the road. North America is experiencing a major beer revolution, and brewers all over the continent are producing some of the most outstanding ales and lagers in decades. Many cities have developed legendary beer trails, inciting beer pilgrims to journey in search of the land’s best pint.
However, not everyone who owns a suitcase and can chug a 12-ounce is necessarily prepared for the grueling task of planning and carrying out a beercation. Before you buy a budget ticket to the nearest beer-tropolis, you should ensure you (or at least one person in your party) have these mandatory beercationer skills.
Beer-cations are not for the impulsive or the irresponsible. Structure and organization are the keys to well-rounded, beer-centered trips. Before you leave, you should have a folder full of useful information, including a list of highly rated beer locations sorted into a schedule for your vacation’s duration. Not all bars, pubs, taverns, taprooms, and breweries are open all-day, or every-day, so you should have a flexible itinerary within reach while you walk the ale trail. It doesn’t take much time to research the beer possibilities at your destination online; plus, there are a number of useful apps to aid your search, including TapHunter and BreweryMap.
No vacation is cheap, but beercations can get particularly costly, fast. While you might be able to find cans of pale swill for under $2 anywhere, the good stuff you are traveling for will likely be more than $8 per pint. After you purchase tickets and arrange accommodations, you should scrutinize your finances so you can build an appropriate budget for your trip. Beer is delicious ― but no beer is worth going bankrupt for.
The second most important part of visiting a bar or brewery ― after enjoying a fresh draught of your favorite beer, of course ― is meeting people. Alcohol is meant to be enjoyed with friends, or at least friendly strangers, so you absolutely must be outgoing and open while you explore your ale trail. By having conversations with fellow beer-lovers, you could learn of some secret local spots that didn’t turn up in your diligent research. However, even if you don’t find any special beer locations during your travels, at least you will have made special beer friends.
Beercations go by surprisingly quickly. Perhaps it is the fantastical feelings of the ale trail, or (more likely) perhaps it is the copious amount of alcohol, but most beercationers try to reflect on their trips weeks later only to realize their memories feel more like hazy dreams. That is why it is especially important that you record your travels with plenty of pictures and videos. Not only will images prompt your memory of your experience, but they will help you recall which particular brews you liked best. However, you might want to practice photographing beer ahead of time to ensure you snap amazing shots.
It isn’t difficult to distinguish between bitter hops and malty grain, but can you explain the flavor profiles of dubbels, tripels, and quads? What about degrees of difference among black malt, rye malt, and chocolate malt? Though you definitely don’t have to be a connoisseur to enjoy a good ale trail, it certainly helps to have some tasting knowledge before you venture into the nuanced world of craft brewing. Whenever you drink beer, you should savor it slowly to tease out its subtle flavors; then, you will develop a knowledgeable palate for any type of brew.
Finally, though the name of the trip is “beercation,” you should remember that drinking beer 24/7 is never a good idea. It is tempting to pack in back-to-back trips to bars and breweries, but it is much smarter to stagger your tastings and enjoy other types of sightseeing as well. The city you are visiting has much more culture and history than beer ― believe it or not ― and there are likely hundreds of attractions and events to keep you and your party happy and healthy. Then, after you have had plenty of water and a good, filling meal, you can get back on the trail to beer-cation bliss.