Beercations: A How-to Guide
By Kim Schimke
Beercation: traveling to new beer destinations in search of deliciousness. Okay, so that may be my definition, but neither Webster nor Wikipedia has yet to adopt this term, so I’m improvising. In the past couple months; I have been fortunate enough to take two major beercations; one to LA and the other to Boston. Both were incredibly successful. What makes for a successful beercation you ask? I have thrown together some tips so you may be equipped to take and fully enjoy a beercation of your own.
I may not be a craft expert, but beercations are something I have pretty much specialized in since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Growing up with my craft loving parents, I’ve been traveling around the country hitting up brewpubs, breweries, and bottle shops for quite some time. I’ve picked up a thing or two and have now acquired a beercation bag of tricks. It’s important to keep in mind that though a hoot and a half, beercations also take preparation, just like any other vacation.
- Transportation: Probably this most important step in one’s beercation. Not drinking and driving is an obvious disclaimer but can make beercationing a little more challenging. Solution? Public transportation. This is more doable in some cities more than others, which is why researching ahead of time is key. Look at the bus systems, subways, availability of cabs, etc. In Boston, I relied primarily on the T (their subway) to get from brewery to brewery if they were not within walking distance. Another bonus to using public transit is it allows you to see another part of how a city functions and operates. Not to mention, it‘s a lot more affordable to use public transit than renting a car and paying meters or parking tickets. If you are renting a car, take turns with your fellow beercationers. Take turns being the sipper. At one brewery, you may sip some of the beers to try the taste but having full pints are reserved for passengers. Of course that does not sound as fun, which leads into my next tip…
- Mapping: Map out the breweries in the area you are going to. Often times, breweries are within walking distance from one another which eliminates the need for a designated driver (sipper) or using public transit altogether. This is also a good way to help narrow down which breweries to visit. If you have one or two desired beer destinations, map around those; Google Maps should be your best friend. It’s also worth checking out local restaurants or bars that have good local tap selections nearby. That way, you can concentrate on one specific area and still enjoy the taste of new local brews on tap.
- Phone App: I’m a user of the smart phone app Find Craft Beer. This app uses your current location to search for craft beer in the area telling you the classification (breweries, brew pubs, beer bars, and beer stores), the distance from where you are, and will open up in maps to guide you there. It also provides all the contact info for the location as well as reviews. It’s sort of like Yelp for craft beer.
- Food & Water: Beercations are not as fun if you don’t remember them. To keep from getting three sheets, ample food in one’s belly and staying well hydrated with water is always advisable. I try to have a glass of water for every pint.
- Ask Locals: When at a brewery, ask the workers of good craft spots that may not be well known. I’ve come across many tiny but fantastic spots that are never written about just by asking locals.
- Tours: If you are interested in tours, I have found that sometimes breweries don’t post on their website that they have them. It is worth calling and asking. I have even found that though the brewery may not have set tours, if you ask for one, they may give you one. Never hurts to ask.
- Take Me with You: ‘Nough said.
Some of these tips may seem like common sense, which some are, but still important to be mindful of. The better prepared you are, the more carefree you can be while imbibing. And with me along for the ride, your hoot and a half will become 2 full hoots of a beercation. Happy drinking!
It really helps to have an understanding spouse too. I also really like using Find Craft Beer too.
Make sure you bring your phone charger with you. Assuming you’re using Google Maps, Find Craft Beer, Untappd, Instagram, etc…your battery won’t last long. You can likely find an outlet somewhere, or at least ask the bartender if they don’t mind putting your phone behind the counter for a while to charge while you have your next sample.
Of course, I’m also a big proponent of simply “disconnecting” and having a conversation with the locals/bartenders/brewers. But you definitely don’t want to get stuck in a semi-foreign area w/out a way to make a call!
Cheers Kim, great post!
I’m an avid beercation-er. Or rather, wrap in beer events with my vacations since I have to compromise with my partner. All of these are great tips. The one thing I’d add is: “Trophy hunting.” Bring home those rare or super local bottles. I even built my own travel case to help with it. Here’s my instructions: http://wp.me/p2ucmM-kd
The transportation is the trickiest part. I asked my daughter and her friend to drive me from brewery to brewery while in San Diego. The friend’s designated driving was perhaps the scariest ride of my life! Any professional driver–bus, cab or livery–would be the safest way to go.
Hey Sergy Brin, Forget those stupid Google Glasses your working on. People who use those are just plain awkward. Develop something more useful like Google Taxi Cars that drives beercation travellers around and acts as an audio tour guide, craft beer finder, filtered water dispenser, and designated driver–all in one. Also good for bachelor parties and wine tours.