Earlier this month I had the privilege to be part of a panel on beer tourism at the Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference hosted in my home state of Florida. I shared the stage with three awesome fellow beer lovers – Leroy Bridges from Visit Saint Pete/Clearwater; Anthony Derby from Brew Bus and Janelle Miley from Dogfish Head. All of us serve the beer tourism community, yet we all approach it from different angles. This is not only cool, but quite significant – since today’s craft beer enthusiast does not necessarily fit into one specific niche; and as craft beer continues its evolution, the number of people looking to experience a connection with the object of their fermented fascination will continue to grow right alongside it.
Sometimes, beer travel is not necessarily all about the beer. This is why it is great that there are so many opportunities for today’s “beer tourist”.
The idea for Bon Beer Voyage came about when Mike and I were on a wine tour in Europe and started sharing the beers that we had acquired earlier in the trip with our fellow passengers. For us, discovering regional beers while exploring a new city or country and the culture around that area is the perfect mix for a great trip.
We have friends who like to spend their time exploring the great outdoors with a nice beer-infused meal at the end of a day full of physical activity; while some people just want to sit at a nice local pub and soak up the atmosphere. Some prefer to learn the history of their favorite breweries and taste rare and unique beers, while others want to explore the towns and museums along the way.
The good news is, there is something for everyone in the realm of beer tourism.
What options should you consider when planning beer travel?
- Visiting friends or have a business trip that takes you to an area with only a few hours of free time? Check out the local brewery’s taproom and/or tour schedule.
- Find yourself out of town with a free day?A local brew bus- or similar day or half-day beer tour- can add some insight and a fun way to check out the local beer scene with other beer enthusiasts.
- Planning a trip to an area where you’ll have some time to explore the beer culture more in depth? Convention and visitors bureaus, especially ones that are active in the beer scene like Visit St. Pete/Clearwater or Asheville CVB, can provide you with info on the latest brewery openings, local ale trails and/or beer events.
- Looking for beer-centric learning opportunities? – Check out the Craft Brewer’s Conference, American Homebrewer’s Conference or Beer Blogger’s Conferences which rotate to different cities yearly.
- Prefer a full-fledged Beercation where someone else does all the planning? There are various options to check out, different tour operators offer different types of packages, depending on your preference there are options for:
- Active Beercations which include biking, hiking or rafting
- Trips based around festivals e.g. Oktoberfest
- Beercations where the family can come along some cruise lines offer cruises with special beer tastings, excursions and workshops during a regular itinerary.
- Beer and Culture trips offering sightseeing, local culture and brewery visits
And sure, Mike and I think a Bon Beer Voyage Beercation or a Beer Safari Weekend is great way to travel! It is for us and for those who enjoy the type of trip we put together. Our model is based on enjoying the beer, culture, gastronomy and history of the places we visit.
But what really drives us to keep bringing our beercationers around the globe to travel for beer is the people. I would guess this is true for most small group tour operators. One of the coolest parts of beer travel is the fact that you get to meet people from all over the world who are beer lovers like yourself. This can lead to some great future beer travel with new friends in new places. Some of my very dearest friends and favorite people have come from traveling for beer and in beer circles; and it always makes me happy when I see our guests continuing friendships that were forged on one of our tours.
The rewards of beer travel can go far beyond the joys of exploring a new place or tasting a new brew. Think about it.When you meet somebody over a beer-maybe in the tasting room of your local brewery or during a stop in a pub during a Beercation somewhere in the world -and find out that you have things in common, least not your love for beer, maybe it makes the world a smaller, friendlier, more cohesive place.I don’t think any of us can argue that perhaps this is what world could use a little more of right now.