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Best Brewery Tours in the United States

I’ve partnered with Travelocity —the website I bought my first plane ticket from— to spread the word about beer tourism. Keep an eye out for information about travel and beer in the upcoming weeks, give me your tips and tricks, tweet me the travel articles you love most. Let’s grab a beer and talk about adventure.

Best Brewery Tours in the USA

Best Brewery Tours in the United States

A brewery tour is the best way to get up close and personal with your beer. You’ll become acquainted with the equipment, get to sample the grains, smell the wort, and watch the bottling or kegging process. Every brewery will show you their fermenters, give you a sample of the goods, and answer your questions. Here are a few that will give you a little something extra. 

In no particular order:

Stone Brewing

bistro_overview1_small Price: $3 public tour, $50 for private group tour (up to ten people)

City: Escondido, California

The Stone Bistro and Gardens, on their own, is reason enough to visit this San Diego county brewery. The outside, unassuming and industrial, hides a gorgeous zen garden, outdoor bar and a restaurant that has one of the best pub menus in the country. The brewery tour, guided by “Indoctrination Specialists” walks small groups of eager beer fans though 55,000 square feet of brewing magic. From brew kettles to bottling lines, tours will see every step of the process, ask questions of knowledgeable staff and see how your favorite beer is made. The tour, as most do, ends with a sampling of Stone’s brews.

New Belgium


Price: Free

City: Fort Collins, Colorado

More of a small village than a brewery, New Belgium will give you more than just the standard tour. With an on staff “Director of Fun,” a climbing wall, a Carnie Workshop that runs year-round to build mutant bikes and organize the Tour de Fat, and a short track for weekly bike races, you can be fairly certain that you’ll enjoy your visit.  After the tour, stop by the tap room, bottle shop, or try your luck at a game of Rolle Bolle

Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head Brewery

Price: Free

City: Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

With a tagline like “Off-centered ales for off-centered people” you know they are doing things a bit differently over at Dogfish Head. From the outside of the impressively gorgeous, modern remodel of an old cannery that now houses the 100,000 square foot brewery, you can see that difference. Not just in the beautiful architecture, but the Steam Punk tree house shipped over from Burning Man and installed in the front lawn. After the free tour of the well-appointed brewing operations, which will supply you with four free beer samples, the fun isn’t over. Bocce ball, corn hole and food trucks await you as enjoy the rest of the tap list as well as the impressive Dogfish Head store. Party too hard? Don’t worry, there is a Dogfish Head hotel just a few miles down the road. 

Rogue Ales Farm Tour


Price: Free

Location: Independence, Oregon

Although not technically a brewery tour, this excursion will give you an up close and personal view of where your beer comes from. As they say, from Ground to Glass, and Patch to Batch. A 42-acre tour of hops, grains, fruit, vegetables and herbs are just the beginning. A tour of the Rogue Ales Farms also includes an impressive yard of honeybee hives, a pumpkin patch, potbellies pigs, free rang chickens, a berry patch and more. Once you’ve learned, picked, sampled and roamed, you still aren’t done yet. You can stop by the Farms Chatoe, for the beer made from those ingredients you just became acquainted with as well as soul satisfying food. Don’t forget to jump into one of the lawn games: giant scrabble and corn hole. Events happen monthly, check the website to plan your visit.

Sierra Nevada

sierra nevada beer tour

Price: Free

City: Chico, California

Sierra Nevada owner Ken Grossman once had to use dairy equipment to brew beer due to the fact that small brewery equipment didn’t exist when he wanted to open his craft brewery in the late 1970’s. Since then, Sierra Nevada has become one of the largest craft breweries in the United States. Three tours, all aimed at different interest, will take you through one of the most impressive brewery tours available. Choose one, or plan on all three, it’s up to you. Want more than a behind the scenes peek of the brewing process? Sierra Nevada also offers weekly events, including beer dinners and pairings, as well as a 350-seat music venue with musicians from all over the globe.

Brewery Visitation Tips

To make the most of your brewery tour, no matter where you choose to visit, keep a few things in mind. Many of these tours book up quickly, take a second to see if you can book online or make a reservation ahead of time. Kids are often welcome! Obviously, they will have to skip the beer sampling segments, and a few on site bars will be off limits, but if you have a kiddo that wants to tag along, that’s often an option.  Sample the special beer. Sure, you want to try what you love at the source, but nearly every brewery will have one of a kind, experimental and rare beer on tap that will never, ever get the chance to sample again. Ask the taproom jockey what to drink, they will help you out.


I was compensated by Travelocity for this post, all opinions and ideas are my own. 

Oktoberfest Near and Far

I’ve partnered with Travelocity —the website I bought my first plane ticket from— to spread the word about beer tourism. Keep an eye out for information about travel and beer in the upcoming weeks, give me your tips and tricks, tweet me the travel articles you love most. Let’s grab a beer and talk about adventure.

Oktoberfest 5

This weekend marks the finale of Oktoberfest,  2015 in Munich, Germany. Although the festivities—which kick off in September—are coming to an end in just a few days, the celebration will continue throughout the month in the United States.

Oktoberfest in Munich, Tips and Tricks

Oktoberfest began nearly 200 years ago as the commemoration of a royal wedding; it’s since morphed into a two-week festival well regarded as the world’s largest celebration of beer. Travelers from all over the globe flock to Munich, Germany to participate in the festivities. Although the festival itself is free to everyone, the tents and vendors will provide you with plenty of opportunities to spend your Euros.  Book early, drink local, and meet as many beer-drinkers as you can.

 Oktoberfest 1

  1. Make reservations. Oktoberfest beer tents are where the action is, and they fill up fast. Make a table reservation, especially on nights and weekends, to make sure you’ll be able to sit down and enjoy the festivities. If can’t make a reservation, small parties should still be able to find space without too much of an issue. Reservations are recommended, especially nights and weekends, but not required. However, keep in mind that waitresses won’t serve you unless you have a seat at the table.
  2. Go midweek. If possible, plan a visit that avoids the hectic crowds of the weekends. Tuesday through Thursday will give you the most elbow-room. Mid-week will also get you closer to the locals, weekends will draw more tourists and fewer Germans.
  3. Bring cash, lots of cash. Although accepting credit cards is more common every year, it’s still likely that you’ll run into more cash-only vendors than any other type. Plan on about 60 Euros cash per person, per day.
  4. Tents Matter. Each tent has it’s own personality, although all are more similar than different. Käfer’s Wiesnschänke is the “after-hours” tent. When other tents start to close down at 10:30, the crowd rushes to this tent. Try to get there before 10PM to beat the crowd. Schottenhamel is the tent to be at when the festival kicks off, it’s where the Mayor taps the first keg and yells “O’ zapft ist!” to begin the celebration. Marstall is the most star-studded tent, also serving champagne in addition to beer.
  5. Dress the part. Visitors and locals alike enjoy donning Trachten, traditional garb for the fest, and doing so will help you immerse in the ambiance. Don’t worry about bringing your Oktoberfest best with you; plenty of local shops will have outfits to purchase. Grab an outfit with pockets and leave your bags and purses at the hotel, the chaos, spillage and crowds will make them more of a burden than an asset.

Best American Oktoberfest celebrations

Celebrating Oktoberfest in the USA is best done in a town that immerses itself in German culture year-round. With snow-capped A-framed shops, German breweries, and lederhosen worn in every season, these villages will transport you abroad with more than just the beer offerings.

Oktoberfest 4

Leavenworth, Washington.

It’s hard to imagine a town in the USA more excited about Oktoberfest than this small Bavarian village in Washington State. With an entire town fashioned after the German Alps, from architecture, breweries, and eateries all following the theme, it’s easy to imagine you have transported to Germany itself. To make sure all visitors to the town (book well in advance of the Oktoberfest celebration) have an opportunity to experience the mayoral kick-off to Oktoberfest, this charming village has not just one keg tapping ceremonies, they have three.

New Ulm, Minnesota

With millions of Minnesotans claiming German heritage, this town is a popular destination for people seeking to get in touch with their roots. Don’t miss the 45-foot glockenspiel, German polka bands, and horse drawn trolley.

Helen, Georgia

Helen’s strict zoning laws require that all buildings resemble an Alpine village in Germany. Known for its festivals, activities, and over 200 Bavarian themed shops, it’s no surprise this little village can put on an outstanding Oktoberfest event.

Oktoberfest 2


I’ll have a recipe for you tomorrow! Come back Friday to get my recipe for Stout Bolognese.

Candy and Beer Pairings That Will Rock Your Party


Candy & Beer Pairings that will rock your party.  

Candy and Beer Pairings

Two of the greatest guilty pleasures in this world are candy and beer. With the extensive data base of flavors that craft beer has to offer, it’s easy to find the perfect beer to pair with any candy you can manifest. Earlier this year I helped Jelly Belly get the word out about their new Draft Beer Jelly Belly jelly bean, an easy task given that beer and candy make easy playmates.

When it comes to pairing the two, there are just a few small guidelines to keep in mind. Rules don’t exist, if you like it, it’s a good pairing. There are a few things to keep in mind when you decide which beers to drink with each candy.

Consider intensity. IPA’s are a big strong beer with a huge flavor presence, necessitating a candy that can take a punch. Pair an intense beer with an intense candy, it’s a lot of fun to experience two high flavors duke it out.

Consider texture. Smooth, mellow beers, like oatmeal stouts, go well with smooth creamy textures, like milk chocolates. While high carbonation beers can help cut a more sour candy.

Consider flavors. Every beer and every candy has a dominate flavor. Think of the dominate flavor in the beer and the candy, is it lemon? Chocolate? Caramel? Peach? Can you picture those two flavors meshing well?

When pairing beer and candy, pick two options and try them both. Go with your gut. Which one makes you want more? Even if it doesn’t make sense, that’s the one you want to serve.

No matter what you end up with, you’re still drinking beer and eating candy, there are no losers in that game. Have a great time, drink some great beer and don’t forget to share.

Check out my recommendations on How To Throw A Beer and Chocolate Party.


Beer and Candy Pairings

 Beer and Candy Pairings 1

  1. Orange Jelly Belly Jelly Beans with Orange Wheat beer.

Beer suggestion: Hangar 24 Orange Wheat

Beer and Candy Pairings 2

  1. Milk Chocolate Peanut Clusters with Brown Ale.

Beer Suggestion: Rogue Hazelnut Brown Ale or Big Sky Moose Drool Brown Ale

  1. Candy Corn with White Ale

Beer suggestion: Allagash White

  1. Caramel Corn with Belgian Dubbel Ale

Beer Suggestion: Ommegang Abbey Ale or The Lost Abbey, Lost & Found Abbey Ale

  1. Dark Chocolate Almonds with Chocolate Stout

Beer Suggestions: Bison Brewing Chocolate Stout or Rogue Double Chocolate Stout

Beer and Candy Pairings 3

  1. Peanut brittle with Scotch Ale

Beer suggestions: Moylan’s Brewery Kilt Lifter or AleSmith Wee Heavy Scotch Ale

Beer and Candy Pairings 4

  1. Sour Gummy Worms with IPA

Beer Suggestions: Bear Republic Racer 5 or Sierra Nevada Torpedo

Beer and Candy Pairings 5

  1. Dark Chocolate Covered Pretzels with Imperial Stout

Beer Suggestions: Old Rasputin or Stone Imperial Stout

  1. Crushed Pineapple Jelly Belly Jelly Beans with Saison (or a brett/wild ale)

Beer Suggstions: Great Divide Colette Farmhouse Ale or The Lost Abbey Carnevale