This week’s column offers four ideas for summer beer destinations. I asked two other beer travelers for suggestions - here’s the second dispatch.
Chris Nelson and his wife, Merideth, offer “the ramblings of beer travelers” at their web site, The Beer Geek, where they proclaim they’re “seeing the world one pint at a time.” Merideth is working on the book about the their travels, tentatively titled Teachings from the Tap; Life Lessons from our Year in Beer.
I think one thing that we have found interesting about beer travel is going off the beaten path. You learn the darnedest things and have some once in a lifetime experiences going out of the way of the usual travel.
In Inyokern, California, for example, on the way to Vegas we went out of our way to visit Indian Wells Brewing. Out in the desert in the middle of nowhere is this brewery that opens at 7am! And believe it or not, they have fishermen that wait outside for it to open in the morning to buy their beer to take on their fishing trips.
Another place we found was Fredericksburg Brewing in Fredericksburg, Texas. This historic town with a tradition of German immigrants settling there certainly has been influenced by German culture. So in a small town north of San Antonio and west of Austin, we found this great beer. Who knew? Plus, in Fredericksburg, alcohol consumption on the sidewalk is allowed, so you can take your beer and stroll the shopping district. We watched a guy order a beer to go. It was put in a cup just like a soda would be, complete with lid and straw. And away he went out the door. Being from California, that was a weird thing for us to see. It blew us away! That, and the drive-through liquor stores…
I think the last example of this would be last year when we went to Colorado for GABF. Prior to going to Denver for the main event, we traveled out to Dillon and Pug Ryan’s. We didn’t think twice about walking from our hotel around the reservoir to Pug’s. It was a long walk, but we needed the exercise and planned to take a cab back after our night of imbibing. Well, they have no cab service in Dillon! The closest cab would need to come from Breckenridge, which of course would have been ridiculously expensive. In a nice gesture of small-town spirit, the owner offered up his bartender, who drove us the 10 minutes back to our hotel.
On the recommendation of some German friends, we visited the small town of Schlanders (Silandro in Italian) in the Italian Alps in June 2007. Near Bolzano, the people speak German in the region. In our three days there, we never uttered a word of Italian which is good because we don’t know any. We thought that people would speak Italian first then German as a second language, but teenagers in the cafes spoke German to each other. The area is beautiful, snow covered alpine peaks and orchard filled valleys. The hiking was pretty amazing rivaling anything we have done in Switzerland, Germany or Austria. Twenty minutes from Schlanders in Merano is Brauerei Forst, a German- style brewery complete with a massive biergarten. The level of German-ness was a pleasant surprise for us since Germany is one of our favorite places.
It’s surprises like that that make beer travel so fun for us. On our site, we try to encourage and inspire others to find their own beer adventures. Later this year, we should each reach our 500th brewery, probably in Portland, ME.