Now that I’ve had my fair share of drunken Saturday afternoons spent tasting new beers at breweries, I wanted to share my hit list of tips for planning brewery visits.
1. Check the Hours. Seems basic, but a lot of places, especially if they’re still small, will have very limited hours. If you want to plan an afternoon and make a few different stops, definitely make sure that the open hours at each place all align.
2. Pints vs. Tastes. Based on the different types of licenses out there, different breweries offer different options when you visit. Some (especially in PA) don’t have brewpub licenses, so they can’t actually sell beers by the glass. BIG buzzkill if you’re looking to spend an afternoon at the brewery and your only options are 2 oz taste or 64 oz growler. If a brewery offers flights, I almost always go for that option to be able to try multiple. Just a good thing to know before you get there.
3. Growlers vs. Bottles. If you plan to take beer home, it’s a good idea to know if the brewery sells anything in bottles or if you’ll need to take a grower. Bottles, though more expensive, will last longer. I’ve found that once a growler has been cracked open, the beer goes flat after a day or two.
If you don’t already have a growler, any brewery will sell you one, but prices can vary a lot. My advice, invest in a nice one you really like and take it with you every time. Most breweries will fill a growler from anywhere. Half size growlers also seem to be gaining popularity. A good option to have if you’re 3 beers in and asleep on the couch like me.
4. Water & Food Be smart. Pack a water bottle to take in the car. It’s the responsible thing to do. And don’t forget to eat! Some breweries have food; some don’t. Know what to expect. Anywhere with a meat, cheese, and pickle plate is a winner in my book. Best bar food EVA!
Finding a BYOB restaurant for after your brewery visit is also a good option. Gaucho is highly recommended.
5. Beer Trackers Keep track of what you’ve tried! I love Untappd, you can follow me here. It’s a great way to check on what you’ve tried in the past and how highly a beer is rated. You can also create a wish list to hunt down something that everybody seems to be talking about lately. I’m sure CFBF and I regularly look like a couple of fools because we’ll walk into a bar and pull out our phones to fully research everything on the draft list to see what we’ve tried before committing. It’s a real process.
Hope this is helpful in planning your next beer day. As always, I love to know what’s good out there, so keep me posted. And follow me on Untappd. I’ll toast you!