Enlightening as it is enlivening, enthusiasts and curious travelers are adding beer tours to their itineraries, not just to grab a pint and enjoy its unique flavors but also to visit different nooks of the city, meet different people in the area and simply get a feel of the neighborhood vibe. We list ten cities where you can enjoy a glass of cold brew and definitely cool company.
North America - New York, Philadelphia, Seattle and Toronto
Once home to 48 breweries, Brooklyn's beer brewing trade disappeared from the borough in the 1970's only to be reborn in the recent years with craft breweries leading the way. Take a behind-the-scenes look at how beer is made at one of Brooklyn's present-day breweries, explore the pre-prohibition era while checking out 19th century brewery buildings, and share stories of the German immigrants who worked and lived in the neighborhood in those days, with plenty of craft beer and food tastings along the way.
Alternatively, take a Clipper City Craft Beer Tasting Cruise. Set sail on New York's largest sailing vessel with the craft beer experts, and be introduced to the reinvigorated world of craft beer. Taste several outstanding ales and lagers paired with cheese and charcuterie while you drink in the magnificent views of the skyline of NYC.
Bear Mountain in Hudson Valley, New York holds its own annual Oktoberfest complete with German food and beer, traditional entertainment, local artisan craft vendors and much more in the weekends from mid-September to October. Take a Bear Mountain Oktoberfest Cruise from New York and join the festivities. A great opportunity to view the fall foliage in all its splendor.
Move down south to Philly and discover places such as Philadelphia Brewing Co., Victory, Yards, Troegs, Flying Fish, Sly Fox, Dogfish Head, Nodding Head, and Dock Street Brewing Co with a pub crawl. Travelers have the option to visit the oldest continuously operating bar in the city dating back to 1860, the highest place in Philly to grab a drink and enjoy a view of the city, an Irish pub with a local flare, and many other bars and pubs so popular with Philadelphians. At each location, there will be discussions about the history of these bars, why they are so popular, and why the locals crave a unique and authentic setting to enjoy food and drinks with friends, family, and co-workers.
Engaging stories, laughs, and lager - Throughout its history, from the early 1800s, Toronto has imbibed beer for refreshment and merrymaking. Learn what role beer played though the decades in helping Torontonians cope with cholera, fire, war, depression, rebellion, muddy streets, and general Victorian stuffiness in a Toront0 beer history tour. This tour will visit a few unique and historical pubs, cover the early history of Toronto, and give visitors a new perspective on the city.
Seattle is home to many of the 82 breweries in Washington State. Many of these breweries are "micro" or "craft" breweries, producing less than 20,000 barrels per year. Experience Seattle's craft brews and views from a beer-lover's perspective on an afternoon ramble.
The Beer Capitals - Munich and Berlin
Though its beer consumption record is dwindling, beer-drinking culture still deeply interwoven with Germany, the land of Oktoberfest. Think beer, and the images of lederhosen and mugs of beer spring vividly. German beer is moderated by a purity law originating in the 16th century controlling the ingredients, which just shows how serious Germans are with their beer.
Head to Munich to sample the beer that is brewed according to the "Order of Purity." Get a behind-the-scenes brewery tour at the Paulaner Brewery with a beer sampler as experienced master brewers provide fascinating information.
Or Berlin for some nightlife action in an insider's pub crawl. Rub shoulders with the locals at local bars, art squats, cocktail lounges and authentic pubs and finish the night in Berlin's most happening clubs. Meet new friends - local Berliners or fellow travelers - over a beer or on the dance floor.
Europe - Amsterdam, Prague and Brussels
One of the world’s largest modern breweries is also a popular tourist attraction. The Heineken Experience in Amsterdam gives beer lovers everything they need to know about Heineken breweries’ origins and--true to its name--experience it in a multisensory tour with four levels of exhibits and 18 attractions. Smell and taste the fresh brew in the brew house! Experience what it is like to be a beer bottle in the ‘Brew You Ride’ and create a personalized beer bottle with your name on it! Of course a visit to the Heineken Experience is not complete without a good glass of Heineken beer! Skip the line by a canal bus combination or a Holland Pass.
But don't stop at Heineken. After all, Dutch beer goes way back in the 16th century when Amsterdam's nuns used to brew beer. Go on an Amsterdam Beer Tour visiting places like a legendary local beer hall that stocks more than 200 different varieties of beer. Choose to sip on a pale lager, gulp some golden ale or sample a strong stout to celebrate the end of the tour. Raise a glass with friends and don't forget to check out the on-site beer retail store to stock up on your favorite brew or pick up some specialized beer glasses.
P is for Prague and Pilsen where beer has been brewed since the town was founded in 1295. But the real Pilsner known in the world these days is connected with the name of Pilsner Urquell which is brewed in the Prazdroj brewery built in 1842. Visit the Pilsner Urquell Brewery with the Nizbor glass factory.
After an insight into the brewery, why not visit five of Prague's most legendary beer halls and microbreweries? Experience the less-touristy area of Zizkov, densely populated with beer halls. Enjoy the local Prague tradition of socializing in beer halls while relishing the authentic local beer and superb culinary experience.
Belgium may be small, but its beers are big and bold. Brussels offers many varieties of artisan brews; each with a different but slightly tart and refreshing flavor. Its grand and popular beer cafes serve as a window to the evolution of culture and social habits of its locals. Join a Brussels beer tasting experience visiting some of these cafes with specialties like Geuze, Kriek and Trappist beers that come with a creamy white head and a kick to them, plus some thirst-quenching white beers that go down deliciously on hot summer days. With your guide, unravel some of Belgium's beer mysteries, the different varieties of beer, their tastes and unique attributes and the do's and dont's of Belgian beers.
Brewery Down Under - Melbourne
Melbourne's history with beer drinking and pub culture can be traced back to the early settlement of the city, to the sly grog trade of the gold rush and the restricted wartime drinking habits. One of the founding fathers was a publican himself. Go on a small group tour for beer lovers. Visit the site of the first pub and the oldest pubs in the city to some new intimate laneway bars and other venues that all have a focus on Melbourne and Victorian microbreweries. Also visit Melbourne's most iconic pub with its controversial painting and discuss the growing craft beer scene and the dominance of Melbourne's largest brewery: Carlton United brewery.