A guide for your next Florida Road Trip for Beer
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A long road has been traversed that involved thousands of miles, dozens of beers and visits to every brewery in Florida from Key West to Pensacola for conversations with brewers, owners and managers.
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Home » Travel Tips

Guest post: Planning a Beercation

Submitted by on June 28, 2010 – 4:00 am11 Comments

Courtesy of TheHopsHoneyBy Genevieve Shuler of The Hops Honey

For many of us who love craft beer, there’s a desire to go to deep into the belly of the beast … to get up close and personal … to see just where it is that the magic happens.  For some of us solo travelers it’s simply a matter of picking which state or region to visit; for others it’s lucking out by having a spouse who’s sympathetic to our need to make a pilgrimage to our favorite brewery. Either way, planning a road trip for beer – a Brewcation, if you will – can be a lot of fun!  I recently spent nine days driving around the great, green state of Vermont visiting local breweries and brewpubs, and I hope that what I learned during the planning, as well as the trip itself, can be of some help to you as you plan your next beer-centric vacation!

While these suggestions are based on a full nine days of vacation, they can just as easily apply to a day or a weekend trip … whether you’re planning to hit up eight breweries, or just one.

The Basics

Once you’ve determined how long your trip is and whether beer is the main focus of your trip or merely a fun add-on, it’s time to buckle down and start doing some research.

If you’ve got the flexibility to start from scratch, check out the Brewers Association website, where you can browse by state to get some inspiration for a region or state you might potentially like to visit.  Most states also have their own individual Brewers Association websites that offer a wealth of information on how to get the most out of visiting their local breweries and brewpubs. A quick Google search should bring them right up.

Map It Out

Google MapsOne of the first things I did was to plot out all the breweries/brewpubs on a map of the state to see which were close together (to be done on the same day) & to plot out a logical travel route to avoid having to double-back. It’s also super helpful to know how long it will take you to drive from one stop to the next.

Remember to check the route to see if there’s a more scenic option as well as what fun sites might be worth checking out along the way!

Check each brewery/brewpub website to see when it’s open and when its normal public tours and tasting rooms are offered/open. Also check its events sections to see if there are any going on while you’re in town. If there are, this may lead you to reconfigure your travel plans to accommodate such an event.

This happened to me and I’m so glad that I had noticed the event. The Alchemist Pub & Brewery in Waterbury, Vermont, an event called “The Art of Fermentation” while I was planning to be in Vermont, and the decision to attend the event really shaped the timing of the rest of my trip. It would also be a super shame to miss out on a beer dinner, now wouldn’t it?

Contact the Brewery

Send an e-mail explaining your vacation and love of the suds and ask if they would be able to accommodate a private tour. Courtesy photoBe friendly, express interest, make it personal and acknowledge the fact that you’re asking a favor of them. It’s helpful to give them a specific date and time you’d like to visit as a starting point for a discussion.

Will you be writing about the visit? If so, let them know that up front in the e-mail & include a link to your website or blog.

Here’s an example of the e-mails I was sending to breweries to introduce myself and ask for a tour & interview:

Hi,

I hope that all is well with the Long Trail Brewing family up in Bridgewater Corners!

My name is Genevieve and I write a blog about beer called The Hops Honey. I live in New York City, but I’m going to be spending a week in Wilmington, VT from March 28-April 6th, and I would love to come up and visit the Long Trail Brewery and take a tour if possible.

Having read through your ECOBrew website, I am extremely interested in chatting with someone about all of the efforts Long Trail Brewing has made towards impacting the environment as little as possible.  I have been fortunate enough to take a number of brewery tours both on the east and west coasts, and I would love to see how a brewery’s operations might look different when environmentally-friendly practices have been put in place.

I was hoping that it might be possible to come for a visit sometime mid-morning on Wednesday, March 31st.  I greatly appreciate your consideration and your letting me know if this is a request that you can accommodate!

Thanks so much, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Do Your Research

Do some basic, background research on the breweries and their beer. When I went to Vermont I was really interested in the eco-friendly practices in place at the various breweries, so I made sure to look at the relevant information available on each website.  Showing up at Long Trail with some knowledge of their ECOBrew website  was extremely helpful as it saved a lot of time and gave me a great starting point from which to ask questions.

The Big Day!

Be on time and prepared.  The craft beer community is incredibly supportive in general, and brewers and owners tend to be very aware and appreciative of all that us beer geeks, connoisseurs and bloggers can do to spread the word about their brewery.  All the same, they’re giving up a part of their day to spend with you, so be respectful of that by showing up on time (or giving a call if you’re running late!), being prepared and above all … being excited! You’re at a brewery, how can it get any better? Be sure that your camera is charged, and it’s a great courtesy to ask if it’s OK to take pictures as you go around!

Here are some basic do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when planning your trip!

DO:

  • Check out the smaller, lesser-known breweries & brewpubs – they’re often true hidden gems! I took home a GREAT growler of Trout River Brewing Co.’s triple … who’da thunk it?
  • Check the events area of each brewery’s website to make sure you don’t miss out on a great educational event or beer dinner.
  • Overestimate how long it will take you to drive from one brewery/town to another.
  • Keep a bag of pretzels in the car to snack on as you drive between brewery visits.
  • Take lots of pictures.
  • Buy yourself some souvenirs … glassware is my favorite! It’s super fun, once you’re back at home, to be able to have a brewery’s beer out of its own glass.
  • Follow-up with your hosts after you visit and be sure to thank them for their time and hospitality

DON’T:

  • Drink and drive. Seriously, designate a sober driver, find public transportation, or rely on your own steam to get around (that would be your feet!).
  • Forget to hydrate! Water is your friend, my friend.
  • Go overboard on the tastings … a small sample is all you really need to get a good idea of the brew… and you’ll likely have lots of beers you’ll want to try.
  • Do what I did and wait months to put up postings on your visit! #fail

Cheers!

Courtesy PhotoOne of the best parts about going on a Brewcation that has nothing to do with the breweries, brewpubs or vacation logistics … is the people!  Craft beer geeks LOVE getting the chance to meet their fellow suds-lovers from out of town, so be sure to reach out and let people know you’re invading their neck of the woods.  Twitter is obviously great for this, as you can just put it out to the Twitterverse that you’re coming to town and would love to meet up for a pint.

In that spirit … if your next road trip for beer lands you in NYC, be sure to let me know… I’d love to meet you out for a beer! :)

Genevieve Shuler blogs about her beer-exploration experiences at The Hops Honey. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Related stories:

Guest post: The do’s and don’ts of a road trip for beer

Some beer festival guidelines

http://thehopshoney.wordpress.com/BG

11 Comments »

  • THIS WAS AN AMAZING POST!

    GREAT content, but it was so clearly thought out, and was so helpful for anyone planning a first “brewcation”.

    I have to thank the both of you. It was truly a great post. But more so than JUST the great content, on behalf of all serious Beerlings…

    This is yet another sign that our beer culture here in the states is on the up and going towards the direction that it should be moving towards. Which is to say not in the way of helping to supply the advertising budgets of Miller ;).

    Now only if every American could take at least one of these types of Brewcations per year…the world would be a better place ;).

    Also, you’re completely correct. No matter how good the beer is, no matter how great the brewery tour is and the glasses and the hops and the yeast and so on…

    At the end of the day it’s all about the people. The passion behind those who brew the beer, drink the beer, grow the hops etc. It’s all people. And to share it with other passionate beer folk is what really makes it. :)

    P.S. I’ll have to hit both of you up when up in NY and buy you guys a few rounds :)

    Ilya

  • Gerard says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words; Genevieve did a fantastic job on this post.

    You make some excellent points. I think the beer road trip will soon rival “wine trails” in popularity.

    BTW, I live in Central Florida; The Hops Honey is a New Yorker. Regardless, if you’re ever in the Orlando area, I’ll let you buy the first round, but the second’s on me! :-)

  • @Gerard She REALLY, REALLY did do a great job with this post! I really appreciate the time and effort she put into this. It wasn’t a 5 min “I like beer” post. I’ll have to go over to her blog and tell her myself :)

    We can only hope that will end up happening! I think the craft beer culture in general but especially here in the states is far more relaxed, a bit more passionate and genuinely more people minded. I think this will go a long way to help the craft beer culture here keep on rising.

    I’ll have to visit the both of you one day here soon! Hell, my whole purpose centers around meeting and gathering beer fantastics all over the country. So I’ll take you up the first round, and the second…and we can fight over who get’s round 7 when we get around to it :)

    P.S. Gerard even though I AM new to this blog, you got to keep this blog constantly going and constantly growing. Let me know if you need anything from me at all. I love the name, I love the concept here and it’s one that I can completely stand behind and believe in!!

    Ilya

  • Gerard says:

    Ilya,

    I just discovered your blog, too, and like what you’re doing with it. I’m always on the lookout for guest posts and would be glad to return the favor.

  • Ilya,

    Thanks SO much for the kind words about the post – it’s great to write this kind of thing & share my “knowledge” with other craft beer lovers… but it’s even greater to get this kind of response, and to have this kind of dialogue open! :)

    You’re totally spot-on about it really being about the people, in this community… yes, the beer that craft breweries are putting out is wonderfully diverse, tasty & fun… but I think the more impressive part is the openness on both sides of the community – the producers and the consumers… the fact that we are able to interact with the folks behind the tasty brews is amazing… and the fact that complete strangers can meet up and develop a friendship over the shared love of quality beer is truly special…

    … and YES! Everyone should take at least one Brewcation a year!!! My next one will be 10 days in Colorado this fall… and I can’t wait! :)

    Thanks again to Gerard for giving me the opportunity to do a guest post here… and Ilya, thanks so much for your comments – So glad you enjoyed the post! :)

    ~HH~

    **** & PLEASE let me know when you come visit NYC so we can grab a pint…. or 6! ;)

  • [...] Guest post: Planning a Beercation June 28, 2010 By Genevieve Shuler of The Hops Honey [...]

  • [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Genevieve Shuler. Genevieve Shuler said: RT @roadtrips4beer: According to WordPress, this guest post by @TheHopsHoney is RTFB's most popular for the last year! http://bit.ly/aFU5yC [...]

  • Todd in Indiana says:

    Nice article.

    The last three years I’ve been traveling/searching the U.S. for great beers and places to purchase them. Have met quite a few nice people along the way. Last year I drove from Indiana to Maine, back to Indiana and then to California. One of my last destinations is to the Northwest. Hopefully that will happen in a few years.

  • Gerard Walen says:

    Thanks for the comment, Todd. With the growth of the craft beer industry in the U.S., you’re pretty much guaranteed to find some great new ones on any road trip. And Indiana has a few pretty good breweries, as well.

  • Great outline, and the mapping it out step is so key! You’d love to think a beer trip (or in our case, beer and baseball trips) don’t really require planning or work, but if you don’t put in the time to research and strategize, you could definitely end up missing out on some great stops!

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