People love beer. In 2013, the overall beer market was $100 billion, and the craft beer market was $14 billion.
People also love travel (after all, it can change your entire life).
So why not combine beer and travel into a suds-driven vacation? (Or, for ease of pronunciation, beercation.) For inspiration in planning your travels, take a look at these 10 top beer travel destinations.
Best U.S. Beer Travel Destinations
Craft beer has exploded in the United States in the past couple of decades. In 1994, there were 537 craft breweries in America. Today there are more than 2,700. It was a tough task to narrow this list.
Known as a beer hub for the last decade or so, Portland offers a wide variety of beer bars – consider Apex, dotted with picnic tables (among others) – and breweries. Widmer Brothers and Deschutes are here, as is Rogue. The city has been called “Beervana.” (More on that in a second, though.)
A Virtuoso advisor – more information on finding one here – can coordinate a beer tour for you, either by foot, bus, bicycle, or private car. Book the fabulous property the Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel. As you collaborate with your advisor on the stops you’d like to make, use this as a resource.
Portland may be called “Beervana,” but just a few hours up I-5, Seattle is making its own claim on that title. Bars like The Pine Box, Noble Fir, and Beveridge Place Pub offer a diversity of beer styles. And various breweries – from Elysian to Fremont to Georgetown – accentuate the city’s focus on quality craft beer.
San Diego, California
After this, we promise we’ll offer an East Coast option – but San Diego’s emergent beer scene is hard to ignore. Six San Diego beer bars have ranked in the top 100 for all of America, and breweries like Green Flash and Stone have greatly risen in popularity over the past 10 years. There are five Virtuoso properties in the San Diego area, so you have lots of lodging options, too.
Burlington and Manchester offer a lot of great beer travel possibilities. In Burlington, check out local brewers Four Quarters, Switchback Brewing or Magic Hat, or grab a pint at The Farmhouse Tap & Grill or Mule Bar. When visiting Manchester, hoist a pint at Murphy’s Taproom with more than 120 draft beers, or Strange Brew Tavern, close behind with about 100 taps.
During fall foliage, Vermont can be one of the most relaxing, gorgeous parts of America to grab a brew. It’s home to dozens of breweries – the local brewers’ association motto is “Small State, Big Beer.” Relax at a luxury resort during your beer travels: the state offers three Virtuoso properties.
Best International Beer Travel Destinations
Prague, Czech Republic
Sometimes called the beer-drinking capital of the world, Czechs consume upwards of 330 pints (or 156 liters) per capita each year. Brewing has taken place here for more than 1,000 years, and a healthy pub culture has sprung up. Prague is also home to three Virtuoso properties.
With 90,000 breweries and perhaps the world’s most diverse range of brews, this is a no-brainer, right? So much so that we’ve already discussed it.
Attending Munich’s Oktoberfest is a major bucket list item for many beer lovers (6 million flock to it from all over the globe). It’s a fitting event in a country with Europe’s second-highest beer consumption. Book one of these three Virtuoso properties well in advance for your stay during Oktoberfest.
Dublin makes this list because it’s the essential place in the entire world to get a Guinness. If you’re looking for more variety than the famed stout, try an Irish red ale, a lager like Harp, or – yes – even a craft beer. Ireland has seen impressive growth in brewpubs and microbreweries since the 1990s. Dublin is also home to three Virtuoso properties, so staying in style isn’t an issue.
Santiago is better known for its wine, but has emerged as a beer destination in recent years. Cervecería Nacional, a local bar, offers 70+ local beers – and the Szot Brewery, about 20 miles outside of Santiago, is run by an American expat and his Chilean wife. The Santiago area offers four Virtuoso properties.
Cape Town, South Africa
As with Santiago, an area best known for wine has gradually risen as a beer travel hub. The Newlands Brewery is South Africa’s oldest brewery, operating since 1820. More recent arrivals brew everything from American- to English- to Belgian-style creations. Schedule your beer travel there in conjunction with the Cape Town Festival of Beer, and stay in your choice of seven Virtuoso properties.
5 Tips for Planning Beer Travel
Because beer is so common around the world – heck, some claim it saved the world – a vacation focused on beer travel can take many, many forms. Consider:
- Where you want to go. Maybe you have a favorite destination you want to explore with a beer focus, or maybe you want to check out somewhere totally new to you.
- What style of beer you’re most interested in. Some areas tend towards sours, which may not be your thing. And some lean towards hoppier varietals, which also might not be your preferred style of brew.
- What you want to do when you’re there. Is beer the priority, or do you have another interest you want to indulge while away? Knowing that will help you settle on a destination and plan your time there wisely.
- What your eating options are. Beer and food are natural pals, and you’ll want to sample local culinary offerings at the same time you’re sampling brews. Some bars/halls/breweries serve food, making your job easier. All that drinking will have to be paired with something.
- Working with a Virtuoso advisor who can plan a beer travel experience you’ve never even dreamed possible.
What are your favorite beer travel destinations? Feel free to share your comments.