1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Bad brewery tour stories.

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by RochefortChris, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. LambicKing

    LambicKing Advocate (655) Florida Apr 13, 2011

    You could substitute "Budweiser" for "Coors" in this story and you have my experiences of visiting the AB plant in Merrimack, NH near my hometown. Used to be good times (and uber fresh Bud tastes were actually great) about 15 years ago.
     
  2. Although I rarely drink Shipyard beers, I had an interesting tour of the place four or five years ago. My wife and I went into the building, and the guy working in the gift shop was stoned to the bejesus. Although the guy was high as a kite, he took us around (we were the only people there) and gave us lots of samples. He seemed very surprised to see us, and somehow managed to be an interesting guide despite being wasted.

    About 15 years ago I toured Miller up in Milwaukee. It was oddly similar to visiting a theme park.

    Most of the tours I've done involve about 20 mintutes of beer talk followed by about 20 minutes of beer tasting.

    Anyway, I enjoyed the Sam Adams tour - and the Brewery Ommegang tour remains one of my favorite.
     
  3. going against the grain - when my wife and i visited chicago and went to half acre, we had the misfortune of showing up on a day they didn't do tours. the guys felt so bad they introduced themselves and sent us off with a free four-pack of daisy cutter.
     
    SWChi likes this.
  4. mkorpal

    mkorpal Savant (275) Colorado Oct 28, 2007

    Glad to say I have not had a bad one. Maybe a few that were a bit lackluster, but thats ok. Best one, either the standard New Belgium tour, or the personal one on one tour I got of Fort Collins Brewery. It helps to be a brewer yourself.
     
    craigo19 likes this.
  5. Went on a brewery tour in the mid-1990s that turned me off from a brewer for more than 15 years. Infancy of microbrews, and these guys were just starting out. One of the owners, who is still featured on the label of his beers today, gave the small tour. Talked about profit margins, and sales, and business...not so much about beer. And this when folks were hand-bottling, meaning he would get locals to volunteer to fill his bombers by hand and cap them, and pay them in beer. The referred to them and talked to them like they were garbage. He acted (openly) like they were beneath him. It soured me so much that I refused to drink their beer for a good 15 years. But, I'm a model of hypocrisy, and have started drinking their beers again. I'm a consumer, not some moral warrior. Love their beer, but they are horrible people. And as I'm not out to trash someone, but advocate for beer, I'll just say it is a MA brewery.
     
  6. Derranged

    Derranged Advocate (525) New York Mar 7, 2010

    I didn't get any free samples at the Brooklyn Brewery.

    The guy talked to us for about 15 minutes in one room and then we were free to buy some organic food and buy 8 oz beers on tap at $5.00 each. It was ok. Nothing spectacular but its not like I was expecting such.
     
  7. [/quote]
    It wasn't flat out teribble. I just found it to be a bit unorganized and more of a social gathering. I would have also liked a bit more information on their brewing process. I was shocked the guy didn't know the story behind an IPA or had never heard of Chimay.
     
  8. Yeah, that one left much to be desired. Did see all of the hoses in a big tub of Iodaphor soaking.
     
  9. Derranged

    Derranged Advocate (525) New York Mar 7, 2010

    I don't remember to be honest.
     
  10. New Belgium is the best although last time I was at Funkwerks one of the brewers let me and my wife tag go into the brewhouse with him and a brewer from Avery while they talked shop. Drunken antic ensued... They are really cool people at Funkwerks.

    Worst tour ever? Shiner. Ten minute history speech, then they show you the chimneys on the kettles and yell at you not to touch them. Then you get to see the bottling line from a window. You also get the, "beer is made with four ingredients..." speech. You don't even see the brewhouse. The positive is that they do give some free beer at the end.

    In Texas a lot of brewery "tours" are paid tours in exchange for a glass and some "free" pours with the tour because breweries aren't allowed to sell direct. It's not a bad deal to get 3-4 pints and a glass for $5-10. The tour is usually an afterthought and half-assed by a brewer or volunteer.
     
  11. Ive been to Sam Adams and Cantillon, both very different and very enjoyable.
     
    Stormfield likes this.
  12. sacrelicio

    sacrelicio Initiate (0) Minnesota Feb 15, 2005

    Really? I had a great time. Super fun guide, free samples (nothing crazy but solid seasonals, super fresh), good vibe, interesting and well set up facility, good overall. I's not really meant for the uber geeks, more for the casual beer drinker.
     
    Stormfield likes this.
  13. Skye1024

    Skye1024 Savant (340) Indiana Oct 3, 2009

    This is pretty awesome.
     
  14. dpjosuns

    dpjosuns Savant (280) Illinois Dec 8, 2009

    I haven't had all that many "bad" experiences, really. At Half Acre, I was waiting in line for 40 minutes (since they don't take reservations you need to wait in line, which gets long) and had to run across the street to get a quick snack, and the dudes opened 20 minutes early and let everyone in, and I was left out. The only response I got was "sorry brah, you can buy something...?"

    The Dogfish tour was good, IMO, as is the new Bell's production brewery (but beware, no samples there yet since its so new). I really loved Anchor's too because there is so much great history - plus got a great lil buzz on and made some awesome friends.

    I don't like to go on tours so much to see what the process is, but rather to see how/why breweries do things differently. Definitely need to gauge how knowledgeable and enthused the guide is, sometimes there are some gems.
     
  15. The Bells production brewery does not have samples, since they are not licensed to sell/dispense beer.
    Seeing them doing things different is by definition seeing the process, and differences from brewery to brewery.
     
  16. SWChi

    SWChi Savant (445) Illinois Oct 25, 2012

    Milwaukee Brewing Company was good...except for the mouse running avross the floor by the tanks...we did the Brewmaster tour at Bud last year in STL...yes..I know..it's Bud but we did get 2 10oz pours straight from the tanks and kept the glass..
     
  17. teal

    teal Aficionado (195) Wisconsin May 3, 2012

    Only been on 1 tour. Teal's Brewery. Place looked suspiciously like my basement. Flipping mess. The tour guide didn't really know a ton but the upside is he's not licensed to sell ANYTHING so all the samples are free.
     
  18. DanK4

    DanK4 Aficionado (240) Maine Jan 17, 2012

    Agreed. The whole crew is class act. Can't wait to see what the tour will be like once the expansion is complete. Great tour, phenomenal beer, and it's not in a bad spot.
     
  19. amantini

    amantini Aficionado (115) Georgia Jul 7, 2009

    Really? How is that awesome? Maybe you were the employee...
     
    Skye1024 likes this.
  20. amantini

    amantini Aficionado (115) Georgia Jul 7, 2009

    It wasn't flat out teribble. I just found it to be a bit unorganized and more of a social gathering. I would have also liked a bit more information on their brewing process. I was shocked the guy didn't know the story behind an IPA or had never heard of Chimay.[/quote]

    Maybe being a BA is not kicking out the legs from someone just beginning to learn about the world of beer? If SC is really as terrible as you say it is for craft beer, then you shouldn't pick such a huge target.
     
  21. Maybe being a BA is not kicking out the legs from someone just beginning to learn about the world of beer? If SC is really as terrible as you say it is for craft beer, then you shouldn't pick such a huge target.[/quote]
    I'm not saying South Carolina is horrible for craft beer either. I'm not a new comer to the craft world either. I like to think I know my stuff about styles and the tasting aspect. I am starting to get into home brewing though and know the basics but thought this place would be a bit more informative than it was.
     
  22. willbm3

    willbm3 Savant (380) Massachusetts Feb 19, 2010

    I agree that the Heineken tour was very over the top with multimedia and everything, but I thought it was fun. I thought all the staff was friendly, funny, and well-informed. Sure it's only Heineken, but drinking a global beer with people from all over the world in the world bar was pretty cool.

    And Harpoon (Boston) only does tours on the weekends and tastings during the week. I think the weekend tours are excellent. You get a very thorough overview of the process, facilities, company history, and beers. You also get alot of samples, including samples from holding tanks. Unlike the weekday tastings, the weekend tours are limited to 20-30 so getting samples during the tasting is never an issue
     
  23. amantini

    amantini Aficionado (115) Georgia Jul 7, 2009

    I'm not saying South Carolina is horrible for craft beer either. I'm not a new comer to the craft world either. I like to think I know my stuff about styles and the tasting aspect. I am starting to get into home brewing though and know the basics but thought this place would be a bit more informative than it was.[/quote]

    Fair enough. I don't mean to come across too harshly, just wanted to offer an alternate experience at that brewery. When I tour a brewery, all I really want is fresh beer and friendly people. Nothing wrong with wanting different things in a tour.
     
  24. I like Westbrook's beers a lot but I wasn't impressed by the tour and tasting room. The tour wasn't even done by someone who worked for the brewery from what I could tell, instead it was some tour guide taking a bus of people around to various Charleston beer spots. The information was really generic and the only interesting part of the tour was the barrel room because I was able to look around myself and read the descriptions on the barrels. The tasting room feels like a hotel lobby, it's sterile and boring.

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, my recent tours of AleSmith and Ballast Point were both really informative. At AleSmith in particular, the tour guide knew a ton of information, which was impressive given that he wasn't even one of the brewers. At the mash tun he was explaining things like the difference between alpha and beta amylase, how boil time affects color, etc. I came out feeling like I learned quite a bit.
     
  25. NorCalYeti

    NorCalYeti Savant (340) California Dec 18, 2008

    not sure if it's changed but sierra nevada was probably the biggest let down ever. i'll start by saying chico state is my alma mater and "i remember when" the brewery was a wee ol' kid...before the "mega-block" it has become. i used to close down bigfoot release parties and participate in sushi parties with jeff lindsay...anyone know what the hell i'm talking about? anyway, i digress. was stoked to arrive in time for a brewery tour on a random side trip through chico. as i recall, we met in the lobby of the brewery...were briefed on the four ingredients in beer, walked up a staircase to a viewing platform behind glass...was given a three minute explanation of what we were looking at and kindly asked to leave and patronize the gift shop. are you f*cking kidding me? i hope they've changed their mind and offer a worthwhile educational tour. one of the best, if not the best was the anchor brewing tour...our group of 11 took over the bar at the end of the tour and have a great photo of all of us behind the bar. cheers!
     
  26. jackndan

    jackndan Advocate (565) Illinois Feb 25, 2002

    I went by the Sam Adams tour. They were nice. At the time, I owned stock in BBC, and showed the guy my "owner" beer opener they sent with the annual report. He poured me 4 samples of Utopias from the little firkin behind the bar.

    Oh bad brewery tour stories... sorry.
     
    craigo19 and 1Sundown2C like this.
  27. I liked the tour as well when I went at the end of 2007 (went through the old brew house with a couple of stops for beer along the way), though apparently they were shutting it down shortly thereafter and revamping the whole thing. History, lots of multimedia interactive stuff (some sciencey, some just for fun) and places to drink along the way. And unlike some people, I actually enjoy Heineken in Amsterdam.
     
  28. elNopalero

    elNopalero Advocate (675) Texas Oct 14, 2009

    I never made it to Shiner while I was in Texas but the brewery tours I did go on--Real Ale, Jester King, Live Oak, Hop & Grain, Thirsty Planet, Independence, Ranger Creek--were all pretty awesome.
     
  29. I don't know what the regular Sierra Nevada tour is like today. I have been on many tours in the US and 4 or so in Europe. The hands down best "tour" was Sierra Nevada beer camp, but that can be hard to book. ;)
     
  30. I dont think I have had a bad experience on a tour but the first time I took the DFH tour there was some very wrong info being given out such as Budweiser had just bought the makers of Utopias and that at 17% WWS/120 were the 2 strongest beers in the world. I felt I had to flag the guy right away and followed it up with an email. Sam's wife replied and said they would do their best to correct any errors their tour guides put out there. Didnt want to be "that guy" but felt I had to.
     
  31. Really cool story to go to a brewery and then make fun of their beers. Classy. Just stay home next time.
     
    evilhead and fineout like this.
  32. hopchick

    hopchick Zealot (90) Florida Jun 27, 2013

    I'd say most of the formal tours we've been on have charged, but you get your money's worth - usually $5-$10 and it includes a glass and beer. The most expensive - but one of the best - was the $20 behind-the-scenes tour at Boulevard in Kansas City. It was brewer-led and we got 4-5 full pours of unusual beers, plus got to go to areas not seen on the normal tour (hop storage cooler!) and keep the glass.

    Haven't had any bad experiences that I can recall, but some tours are definitely better than others. At this point I don't need to know how beer is brewed, I just want to see the setup and hear the history of the brewery (and of course try beer).

    Another must-do is Abita - you line up and serve yourself whatever you want from about 16 taps, and the brewery is very environmentally friendly. Then you have a half hour or so to drink more, again self-serve.
     
  33. Heineken, really? Even after the "ride" they put you on? You should have got stoned first. You were in Amsterdam afterall. I hate their beer but loved the tour.
     
    KingBiscuit and Beerandraiderfan like this.
  34. I haven't had a bad one yet. Always free samples during and at the end too. Guinness automated tour is ultimately the best. Not much free beer, but a pint at the top of the brewery overlooking the Dublin skyline was priceless. Coors was cool, but Golden City Brewery a few blocks down the street from them was better and more personable. There have been too many across my travels to list, but I am pretty content with them all.
     
    kojevergas likes this.
  35. Gunslinger711

    Gunslinger711 Savant (270) Indiana Apr 16, 2010

    Last brewery tour I was on was awesome. My wife, a friend of ours and myself went to Triple Digit/Listermann's in Cincinnati. We were some of the first people to show up when they opened. After drinking a beer or two the dude behind the counter asked if we wanted a tour. He only had to take us into a back room but they explained some of the processes about how they make their beer, showed us all of the barrel aging they're doing (plus where all the different barrels came from) and even answered some of my homebrewing questions about brewing with peanut butter.

    Plus, you can't go wrong with a beer named Chickow!
     
    brew3crew and beerslushy like this.
  36. jdhowe

    jdhowe Savant (390) California Mar 18, 2013

    I've only toured a handful of breweries:

    Deschutes (4 free pours at the end)
    Firestone Walker
    Pyramid (4 free pours at the end)

    Firestone Walker, while they didn't give free pours, did go out of their way to make us feel welcome all day. When we showed up they said their tours were full for the day, but that we were welcome to stand by, and the bartender said he'd see if they could find room for 3 more people on one of the upcoming tours regardless to fit us in. We ended up on a tour where some people opted out a few minutes beforehand and slots became available, and it was reasonable. A little history, brewing vessels (including the brewing barrels for the unfiltered dba), and a reasonable look at the equipment. Tour guide made some statements that were a little misleading or oversimplifying ("we cool the wort very fast because if you don't cool it quickly it creates bad flavors in the beer") but was knowledgeable when approached afterwards off-line. It was clear that she cared and was happy to discuss any aspect of the beer.

    In contrast, Stone felt about like their bottles feel -- maybe it's just their company persona through and through. We showed up (there was no parking at the brewery because apparently there was a wedding there that day so we had to go with valet, which was reasonably priced) and went in to promptly ask about a tour and were told there there were none available. I asked about standby and was basically no-sirred with "nobody ever doesn't want to go on the tour and we can't help you out or fit you in." A fair stance delivered in a heavy-handed way more than an unreasonable stance. But then the bistro food was mediocre (dessert was quite good) and the bottles and food were all savagely overpriced. Only 20 taps because they were not using half of their system because they had some taps reserved, so the draft offerings were also very limited. The place is beautiful, but they didn't seem to give two shits about any given customer... it was much more of a "we'll be fine with or without you, but you can stay here and spend money if you want" vibe.
     
    kojevergas and pjeagles like this.
  37. DougOLis

    DougOLis Savant (275) California Aug 15, 2008

    Fuller's in London is one of the best tours I've gone on. My guide was extremely passionate about their beer and the history and culture behind it and went into pretty good depth about their brewery and process. Then half-pints of any beer we wanted at the end fresh from the cask; easily the best and freshest cask beer I've ever had. I was shocked at how much of a difference it made in tasting the hops.
     
    dmeadows likes this.
  38. Scalawags

    Scalawags Savant (280) Illinois Jun 18, 2013

    Abita - simultaneously the best and worst tour I've been on. Went there for my bachelor party and they just give you a cup and say "go!" But then they have you watch a pretty lame video before going into the brewery. Only spent 5 minutes in the brewery and couldn't hear a word the guy said (not that I couldn't have given the tour myself). But then they give you another hour of free drinking, so there is really nothing to complain about.
     
  39. JoeBloe

    JoeBloe Savant (370) New York Nov 16, 2007

    Years ago we were visiting some family and friends in Michigan and I persuaded my wife to go visit the Bell's brewery with me - I found their address on the web and foolishly did not call before venturing out - after a longer drive ( through some 'down-trodden' areas of Michigan ) than anticipated, we arrived at the brewery, at the back 40 of some industrial/corporate park , where the girl at the front desk informed me that this was 'just a working brewery' - no tours, no tasting room - what a bust ! - However she saved the day by directing us to the Bell's general store and it's next door cafe in Kalamazoo, a half hour back in the direction we came from - after some good nachos and burgers, a look at the backyard garden, and a couple of Hopslams off the tap, we were good to go - and I also grabbed a case of 2 Hearted ale and Kalamazoo Stout from the general store - making for a happy ending to my misguided brewery trip -
     
  40. They recently started tours of the production facility. You still have to go downtown to drink their beer, as they do not have a license to serve beer at the big brewery.
     
    JoeBloe likes this.

Share This Page