Thursday, June 27, 2013

Planning a Beer Trip

Pints Pub, Colorado 2006
Recently my friend, Cal, who is also a beer lover and blogger asked me about my method for planning beer trips. He goes on beer trips more frequently than I do and his often take him further afield but we both enjoy reading about each other's travels. Our recent trips, to Colorado Springs and Chicago, respectively, prompted the idea to talk about how each of us plan our trips.

Mag and I have been doing beer trips for at least 12 years. The early ones predate this blog; the most recent one was earlier in the month to Colorado Springs. Only four days total, this trip was somewhat shorter and less intense than some of them in the early years. Those were longer, involved more driving but also involved more people. These days it's harder to coordinate schedules so either it's just the two of us or if we're lucky, another couple. Now that you have a little background, on to the planning.

Dark Horse ceiling of mugs, Michigan 2009
Step 1: Figure out a date and/or physical location. Maybe there is a specific event going on (i.e. festival), maybe we want to take a trip over a specific set of days or maybe we found great airfares to a location.
Step 2: Start determining locations (i.e. cities or breweries) that could be visited.
Step 3: Develop a sample itinerary of breweries/brewpubs.
Step 4: Book needed travel (i.e. flight and/or rental car).
Step 5: Revisit locations on the sample itinerary, modifying it to add or remove locations.
Step 6: Book accommodations.
Step 7: GET EXCITED!!!

Overall, it's pretty simple but we've discovered the importance of knowing the temperament of those going on the trip. In the early years our trips involved more driving between locations, staying in a new location every night (sometimes even forgoing a hotel/B&B for camping). These days we usually pick a central point so that we can stay at the same hotel/B&B every night and at most, do longish day trips. Additionally, we have begun adding in "touristy", non-beer things, particularly in the mornings because I can tell you from experience that starting a full day of drinking by 11 am (possibly even at breakfast) for days on end is brutal.

Georgetown Brewing, Seattle
As far as determining the breweries/brewpubs to visit, these come from a variety of sources. If we've been to the area before, places we've enjoyed previously go straight on the list. Then to determine what else has sprouted up I'll utilize a Google search, ideas from friends (or strangers) who have been there recently and if they are accessible, I'll consult a printed brewing publication (as I did when we went to Seattle last fall since the whole Pacific Northwest is in one edition).

The day by day planning has evolved as well. In the beginning, it was much more regimented, primarily because we had to do X, Y and Z on Day 1 since we'd be driving on to A, B and C for Day 2 with no way to go back. These days, as long as we're going to be staying in the same place for multiple nights, the itinerary can be more flexible with some "must see and do" things each day but also ones that can float around. It's those "must see and do" places that are the building blocks of my itinerary.

Cave of the Winds
For example, on our recent trip to Colorado Springs Trinity Brewing's release of their Berliner Weisse was taking place at 5:00 pm on the Friday we were in town. I build Friday's schedule around that, figuring out what other places were in the vicinity that we could visit as well as looking at what was on the travel route between there, our hotel and our morning “touristy” activity, Cave of the Winds.

Pikes Peak, Day 1 addition
On this trip our itinerary got a fair number of modifications. On Day 1, at our second stop, we talked to a local and found out about a place we hadn't heard of. By going there we missed hitting two places we were supposed to go to later in the day. No problem, we were able to hit them on Day 3. Additionally, while sitting at a brewery on Day 2, I thumbed through one of the printed brewing publications and we added a new place to Day 3.

So much about planning a beer trip depends on your personal style but perhaps you've picked up some tips here. Perhaps you'll find something useful reading Cal's planning strategy as well. Either way, beer trips are a blast!


  1. Great post! I am similar when it comes to trips in general. The more trips, the more flexible everything becomes even though I am more of a regimented person. Anything added and spontaneous tends to end up being some of the best parts for us.

  2. Nice planning! Annie sir you provide a beautiful comment regarding this site...

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