LAST WEEK’S column focused on beer travel overseas. Of course, you don’t have to go that far this summer. Right here in the good ol’ U S of A, there are plenty of beer-centric travel destinations. Indeed, regional tourism agencies have set up easy-to-follow travel guides from New England to Southern California.
These ale trails are more than just your usual beer-soaked pub crawl. They’re an opportunity to see America and meet the people behind the nation’s still growing small brewery scene.
Grab your cooler (you’re going to be collecting lots of sudsy souvenirs) and plan your 2015 summertime brew-cation. Here’s a selection of destinations within a day’s drive of Philadelphia.
Gunpowder Falls . . . Black Cap . . . Bube’s . . . Liquid Hero . . . Miscreation . . . Mudhook . . . These breweries and more are fewer than 90 minutes from Philly, yet I’d wager most of you have never heard of them.
Centered on York, this trail seems ideal for a bed-and-breakfast weekend. Throw in a factory tour of Harley-Davidson or Utz potato chips and you’ve got a fun, family-friendly getaway.
Tip: Time your trip for the BrewFest at Mount Hope Winery on May 9, when dozens of Pennsylvania breweries pour their best.
The first state, boasts only about a dozen breweries, but two of them should be on every beer-lover’s bucket list:
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton is ground zero for the modern experimental ales that have expanded American palates. Check out its historical ales like Midas Touch and unusual gadgets like Randall the Enamel Animal organoleptic hop transducer module.
Twin Lakes in Greenville is a small, rustic brewery in the midst of the gorgeous, rolling Brandywine Valley farmlands where George Washington fought the Revolution.
Tip: Download Visit Delaware’s passport and visit eight breweries to receive a keepsake gift.
It’s true that upstate New York is better known as wine territory. But in recent years, the Finger Lakes have become the epicenter of New York’s craft-beer explosion. This trail, one of the best in America, offers suggested one- or two-day itineraries with hotel package deals and guided tours.
Try the loop around Seneca Lake, with visits to 14 breweries, including War Horse, Two Goats and Birdland, and an overnight stay at the new Grist Iron Brewery and Inn.
Tip: The Bon Ton Roulet is a weeklong cycling tour of the lakes, July 18 through July 25.
This trail was established by local beer lovers aiming to promote Connecticut’s breweries, most of which do not send their beer out of state. Maybe you’re already familiar with Two Roads and Thomas Hooker. But a trip to the Nutmeg State will give you a chance to try Gandhi-Bot, the double IPA from New England Brewing that is about to be renamed because of protests from India.
Tip: Join the Trail Blazers Club for discounts and contests.
The Blue Ridge Parkway runs more than 400 miles through Virginia and North Carolina, one of America’s great scenic roadways. Make a pit stop near Charlottesville, Va., for a small but excellent selection of breweries.
Among them: Devil’s Backbone, the lager brewer that was named mid-size brewery of the year at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival.
Tip: Fill your gas tank and your growler at the Charlottesville Mobil Growler Station Express.
Do it yourself
Want to create your own beer trail? Wondering which breweries are in the vicinity of your next out-of-town trip?
Check out the Road Trip tool at Brewerymap.com. Just plug in your route and it quickly maps the location of breweries along the way. I plotted a trip from Philly to Pittsburgh and discovered no fewer than 50 breweries within five miles of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. brewerymap.com
Lehigh Valley Ale Trail, including Weyerbacher, Funk, Fegley’s, Saucony Creek and more. lehighvalleyaletrail.com
Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country, with 10 breweries, including Snitz Creek, Millbock, Pizza Boy and Troegs. hersheyharrisburgbeer.com
Central PA Tasting Trail, with 11 beer, wine and spirits destinations around State College. centralpatastingtrail.com
Hudson Valley Beer Trail includes about 10 New York breweries and a hops farm. hudsonvalleybeertrail.com