WHEN THE SUN is swallowed all day by gray skies and gloom, when the streets turn black with week-old slush, when even double IPAs taste like rock salt, a Philadelphian can’t help but think about getting out of town. Here are 10 beer-soaked destinations to consider:
1. Lititz, Pa. This quaint Lancaster County town boasts three brewpubs, including JoBoy’s, where southern barbecue is also on the menu. After a stop at the Sturgis Pretzel House, grab a bite and a brew at Bulls Head Public House, along the shop-filled main drag. The nearby Wolf Sanctuary of PA is a fun visit with kids.
2. The Poconos. Skytop Lodge hosts a Winter Beer Festival on Saturday. Just down the mountain near Lake Wallenpaupack, The Lodge at Woodloch offers a $250 beer-soaking body exfoliation inspired by Dogfish Head Midas Touch.
3. Bloomsburg, Pa. The Inn at Turkey Hill, in north-central Pennsylvania, is a high-end bed-and-breakfast with its own brewery. Book for as low as $119 a night through TravelZoo.com and get two welcome pints of beer.
4. Brooklyn. It’s just as cold and grimy as Philly, but a change of scenery is good for the soul. Hop on Amtrak to Penn Station, connect with the 2 train to Brooklyn, and you can be enjoying a draft Sixpoint Hi-Res at Williamsburg’s Spuyten Duyvil in less than two hours.
Grab a table at Dirck the Norseman, an industrial-size beer hall with stained glass and church pews, and Greenpoint Beer & Ale on tap. And don’t miss newly released K Is For Kriek barrel-aged honey-and-cherry ale in the Brooklyn Brewery tasting room.
5. Cleveland. Named America’s No. 1 beer city by Conde Nast Traveler, the town is home to several small-batch startups, including Platform, an incubator for wannabe professionals. Don’t miss Market Garden Brewery, led by Dogfish Head alum Andy Tveekrem.
6. Chicago. Lagunitas Brewing of California has an outpost in the Windy City, but for an authentic taste of the Midwest you’ll want to visit Argus Brewery, housed in a former brewery stable. Look for some of the Second City’s many barrel-aged beers at Local Option, Haymarket Pub and Brewery, and Goose Island.
7. Finger Lakes, N.Y. Last year I told you about the great state of Iowa as a beer-and-cycling destination. This July, I’m pedaling around Seneca Lake as part of the annual Bon Ton Roulet tour, which will take me past the likes of Keuka, Two Goats, Naked Dove and 20 other upstate New York breweries. Details at Bontonroulet.com.
8. Tampa, Fla. Make it a baseball and beer trip during spring training, with visits to one of the Bay Area’s 20 or so breweries. Coppertail in the touristy Ybor City section is getting lots of attention, with ex-Flying Fish brewmaster Casey Hughes at the controls.
Rapp Brewing, in Seminole, and 7venth Sun, in Dunedin, are highly recommended stops.
9. Vilnius, Lithuania. If you’ve read my reports as “beer ambassador” to this Baltic country, or saw the recent visit by the Travel Channel’s “Booze Traveler,” you know Lithuania is a unique, largely undiscovered destination for beer lovers. While unusual country ales served in quiet Old World cafes are the highlight, some of the finest, including Dundulis, will pour at the Zmogsala Exotic Beer & Ales Festival, on Feb. 28.
10. Nuremberg, Germany. In 1303, the local city council enacted the first German beer-purity law, declaring that only barley malt be used for brewing. With that, Bavaria’s unequaled tradition of beer-making perfection was launched. I’ll lead an expedition to the city in December as part of Joe Sixpack’s Christmas Market river cruise on the Danube. Details at goastrotravel.com.
For more beer travel ideas, head to the Inquirer Travel Show, Feb. 21 and 22, at Valley Forge Casino Resort. I’ll be talking about beer destinations and more.