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July 24, 2009 | Four for the road
Try one of these four beer runs for a fine taste of America.
This is home, of course, to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, a must-visit for any red-blooded American. But you're here to enjoy our other national pastime, which means a stop at Brewery Ommegang (www.ommegang.com) - just five miles out of town - is in order.
This 12-year-old farmhouse brewery looks like something from the French countryside, circa 1809. Its beers recall the days when brewers toiled over open fermentation vessels to make just enough for their farmhands and families.
The bucolic grounds (site of the Belgium Comes to Cooperstown festival, July 31-Aug. 2 this year) are lush, and you can sleep it off at any one of a number of nearby inns and B&Bs. Call in advance for daily tour info (1-800-544-1809), which includes free samples of Ommegang Abbey, Rare Vos, Witte and more.
The town is family-oriented and not much of a bar town. But many restaurants serve another hometown favorite, Benchwarmer Porter, from Cooperstown Brewing.
For decades, West Coast beer has meant the microbreweries of Seattle, Portland, Ore., and northern California. But in the past four years, sunny San Diego has busted its way into the party.
Today, the region's Ballast Point, Lost Abbey, AleSmith, Green Flash, Pizza Port, La Jolla and Oggi's are among the hottest breweries in America.
For a sip of them all, plus outdoor fun in a boulder garden, make sure you put Stone Brewing World Bistro & Garden in Escondido on your itinerary.
One of the city's best beer bars, O'Brien's, is located in a shopping center - hardly a good way to see a city. So don't miss Hamilton's Tavern (fresh firkin tapping on Fridays) in the South Park section and the Yard House Restaurant (100-plus taps) in the Gas Light District.
With the two coasts dominating craft beer shelves, it's easy to forget they make great beer in flyover country, too. Indeed, only two states - California and Colorado - are home to more breweries than Wisconsin.
Every other corner has a taproom - many of them specializing in local lagers. Just make sure you track down a glass from the award-winning New Glarus Brewing Co., which sends not a drop of its award-winning beer beyond Wisconsin's borders.
For a taste of old Milwaukee, visit the 100-year-old Holler House and enjoy a can of Schlitz with a game of tenpins on the oldest sanctioned bowling lanes in America.
Miller's giant downtown brewery is worth all the stairs for a look at its old storage cavern - and the free beer. For a tastier quaff, head to Sprecher in nearby Glendale, or time your trip for the Wisconsin State Fair (Aug. 6-16) for the brewery's grilling with beer contest.
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
The late British beer writer Michael Jackson once called the shore town's Dogfish Brewmaster's Suite, "the most civilized hotel bedroom in the U.S."
That's possibly because it comes stocked with a cold sixpack of Dogfish Head Brewery's finest, plus enough beer-drinking opportunities to awe even a seasoned suds slinger. A two-day, "360° Experience" (info at www.dogfish.com) includes a boat tour aboard the S.S. Dogfish, dolphin-watching in a kayak, a guided tour of the brewery and more.
The suite is within walking distance of Dogfish Head's brewpub, where you'll find fresh batches of such iconic brews as Midas Touch, 90 Minute IPA and Raison D'Etre, plus flavored vodka and rum from its micro-distillery.
Also in town: FINS Fish House & Raw Bar, for fresh seafood and more craft beer.
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