Bad brewery tour stories.

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

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  1. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Meyvn (1,234) Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    I'm just wondering if anyone has gone on a tour of a brewery and it turned out to be disappointing or even flat out terrible.
    I'll share my story:
    I went on a "tour and taste" of RJ Rockers brewery in downtown Spartanburg, South Carolina (for those of you who know anything about South Carolina, that's a problem within itself.) with high expectations of an informative evening with some half-way decent samples of beer. All it turned out to be was a bunch of people gathering around to get a free pint glass and four "tasting tickets" which got your four half pours of what they had on tap. As for the tour, it was a volunteer kind of thing or you could stand around and socialize.
    As for the tour itself, it was led by a guy who I could tell knew next to nothing about the brewing process and was told what to say. He showed us the tanks and a few other components with vague descriptions of how they worked. He was then asked how an IPA got its name by a gentleman from India. He didn't know so I told the story then someone said they liked the Chimay shirt I was wearing and the tour guide then said he had never heard of Chimay and asked what it was....
  2. Duff27

    Duff27 Poo-Bah (1,796) Feb 10, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Nailed it with the thread title.
  3. OneDropSoup

    OneDropSoup Meyvn (1,048) Dec 9, 2008 Pennsylvania

    I was really excited to tour Three Floyds' brewery for the first time, & two minutes into the tour, it burned down.

  4. slacker79

    slacker79 Aspirant (264) Mar 27, 2011 Ohio

    Staropramen in Prague. Great city, and good bier, but the brewery tour was just some rooms and video/hologram stuff. Nothing too impressive. The ticket included a drink token, but you could get a cheaper ticket if you didn't want a drink. I did the "tour" with 1 other guy who spoke mostly spanish. He disappeared quickly, as he couldn't really understand what was going on. I didn't want to finish the video about bottling at the end of the tour and got crap from the bartender about it! I just wanted to get to the biers at that point.
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  5. MADhombrewer

    MADhombrewer Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2008 Oregon

  6. carteravebrew

    carteravebrew Zealot (510) Jan 21, 2010 Colorado

    Actually, when my wife and I were in Myrtle Beach back in May, we went on a tour of New South Brewing Co and I was very impressed with the tour guide. There were 10-12 of us on the tour, and the guide was very informative, probably borderline over the heads of people who aren't familiar with the brewing process. He wasn't the head brewer, but I think he helps the brewers here and there, runs the canning machine, and serves the beer.

    The beer wasn't so great, but overall it was a good experience.
    johntangus likes this.
  7. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    My $.02.
    1. If you've seen one tank and one bottling line, you've seen them all.
    2. The only bad brewery tour is one that you don't get free samples.
    3. The OP saw some tanks and got samples, what's the problem?
  8. Domingo

    Domingo Poo-Bah (2,176) Apr 23, 2005 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    The Coors tour used to be something I'd recommend to anyone who had any interest in beer. You got to see their operations in great detail, try some super-fresh Banquet, and the tour guides even knew what they were talking about. It was cool to see how an operation that large actually ran and they took a fair amount of pride in it, too. The tours used to be 20-30 minutes long and culminated with 3 half-glasses of anything they brewed in Golden (contract stuff included). Macro or not, it was a modern marvel just to see an operation like that.
    Now it's "self-guided" and you only get to see a tiny corner of the place before being whisked away to the tasting room where a bunch of people are trying to receive too many free samples of Coors Light.
    Squidly and BedetheVenerable like this.
  9. Jerktookmyname

    Jerktookmyname Initiate (0) May 31, 2007 Wisconsin

    A few years back I had a horrible host on the Sprecher tour. He was completely attached to his note cards to the point where he literally said, "My favorite beer is (flips note card) Special Amber."

    I've been on their tour a few times and had some decent tour guides, but this guy must've been the owner's nephew or kid or something. He had no clue.
  10. marquis

    marquis Crusader (758) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    Bass brewery around 30 years ago when it was still a major player.
    We arrived on time and were met by somebody who said "We aren't ready for you yet, can you come back in an hour?" so we explored some of the pubs in Burton on Trent before returning. Our guide was a lady of indeterminate age who had no interest in the subject ; we were led round a large building which happened to be the brewery, catching an occasional glimpse of pipework through portholes in the wall. The only aroma was lavender floor polish. We then went to the "brewing centre" which was a large console with two bored looking workers sat in front of it.Eventually we got to the sample room , we had time for one pint , no food and it was time we went as it was closing for the night!
    Fortunately in those days at least breweries didn't charge for tours but it was disappointing to say the least.
  11. checktherhyme

    checktherhyme Initiate (154) Apr 8, 2008 Washington

    I have found that most brewery tours leave much to be desired. That being said, I really liked the Sam Adams tour. My friend even had Jim Koch give the tour himself when he went last summer. Pretty damn cool
    craigo19, charlesjwinkler and Ranbot like this.
  12. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I always like tours. I have seen many tanks and brewhouses. Often I see something of note and might find a nugget of information. It is also informative to see any grains being used, bags of brewer's salts for water adjustment, RO systems, the hops storage room, and any other little thing you can see and make a mental note of.

    The guides can be anything from the head brewer to someone that has the job for the day and is not too up on the process.

    Edit - the tour experience is often a reflection on the total brewery experience.
  13. daysinthewake

    daysinthewake Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2010 California

    Maybe this counts. Before my last trip to the Bruery I emailed them to ask how a tour works and try to schedule one if possible. Never got a response back. Fuck them.
  14. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,110) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    Heineken. So over-the-top with glitz and multi-media. I felt I was being brainwashed. Then the tasting just fell flat. I gave them a chance and thought, "ok Heinken, here's your chance to show me your beer is alright super fresh straight from the source". But between the bartenders acting like drones as they recited a speech without any emotion or personality telling me how to enjoy my tasting, was just sad.

    Also, Harpoon. I've heard the tour is great, but when I went there was no tour, just a tasting. You get a lot of beer, but it was uncomfortably packed and you had to fight for samples. Plus, in the end I left not really liking much of what I tasted.
    pathman and 27Tripping like this.
  15. premierpro

    premierpro Aspirant (278) Mar 21, 2009 Michigan

    I was disapointed with theSam Adams tour. What was realy bad was the offerings at there tasting after the tour. I would expect that they could serve somthing other then what I drink all the time. I love Sam Adams beers and will continue to buy them but my tour could have finished better with somthing better.
  16. Greenplastic615

    Greenplastic615 Devotee (417) Nov 4, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I've done both the tour and the tasting there. I think the actual tour is only given on Saturday, and the tasting is the other days, since they won't bring people into the brew-house while they're running their day-to-day production. I definitely recommend the actual tour - I got several samples from holding tanks at various stages of the beer being "done" and it was really cool to see and taste the beer from ingredients, to immediately post-fermentation, to bright tanks, to on-tap. The tasting immediately following was also way less packed than the weekday tasting is (which is free beer for an hour, but they let in 100 people or so with two bartenders, and it's a struggle, at least for the first 20-30 minutes to get anything).
    JrGtr likes this.
  17. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (740) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    The only tour-gone-wrong story I have is from a few years ago. The Michigan Brewers Guild was doing a series of tours for enthusiast members. We drove up to Detroit in not so good winter driving conditions to tour Fort Street and arrived along with 4 or 5 other die-hards. Problem was the Guild planned it without contacting the brewery, and the brewer was out of town. Still, it was a fun group. We ate, drank, and had a good time, just didn't get to meet and tour with the brewer we were expecting.
  18. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    I thought the tour was fascinating based on the scale of the place. Cool to check out the malting room too. But the kool aid the tour guide was serving was a bit much.

    At the end I gave away my drink tickets to someone else and the tour guide asked "you don't like beer?" I replied, "no I love beer, just not yours".
    craigo19, StuartCarter, bigs4 and 7 others like this.
  19. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,110) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    Hilarious. I can't imagine what kind of stares you got from everyone after saying that.
    StuartCarter likes this.
  20. 4kbrianb

    4kbrianb Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2013 California

    dont leave things to a technology like email.... Shoulda called them, they run a rad business. I have never had issues speaking with someone at The Bruery. That being said... maybe they're better at responding to calls and email now!
    BrettHead likes this.
  21. jbertsch

    jbertsch Meyvn (1,110) Dec 14, 2008 Massachusetts

    That part does sound cool... never seen or heard of another brewery doing that.
  22. fredmugs

    fredmugs Poo-Bah (1,547) Aug 11, 2012 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    I toured the Bud plant in St Louis and at the end of the tour all they had was Bud products. D'oh
  23. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Some ancient history: I did the same tour as a freshman in college in 1969 and you could sit in the tasting room and drink all day for free. Granted, they only made one beer - the Banquet. However, by the next year, you were restricted to 2 glasses. End of tour going for me.
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  24. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    Tour at Buzzards Bay years ago and a sales lady who gave the tour said they kept yeast in the silo outside, milled the hops, and beer skunks by warm/cold cycles. Except for the annoying drunk people who just came from the winery tour, it was very entertaining.

    Tour at Magic Hat where I was keeping quiet in the backround since I didn't want to be "that guy" who asked technical questions just to show the tour group that their beer knowledge is superior. The woman giving the tour asked if there were any homebrewers in the group and I kept quiet but my wife gave me away. The tour guide said "you must not be a very good homebrewer then, because they usually ask a lot of questions" It took every ounce of restraint that I had not to go off on her about their diacetyl laden crap and other faults I tasted in their tasting room before the tour.
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  25. BearsOnAcid

    BearsOnAcid Savant (968) Mar 17, 2009 Washington
    Beer Trader

    Ive never been a fan of tours. They are usually all similar with varying degrees of boredom. Id rather just try the beer.
  26. VitoFerrante

    VitoFerrante Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Any excuse to tour a facility, but a pint glass to take home, and BS about beer is a good tour for me! Oh, and trying the beer.....
    SWChi and hardy008 like this.
  27. alexipa

    alexipa Devotee (439) Oct 7, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    New Belgium gives probably the best brewery tour I've been on, though you have to sign up months in advance.

    The worst was when I had to answer a gentlemen's question for the tour guide on what base malt the brewery uses. I also asked if the brewery planned any lagers in the future and confused the guide, as he thought lager was just another name for beer.
    bostonlogga likes this.
  28. daysinthewake

    daysinthewake Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2010 California

    The instructions on the site were to email them for tour info.
  29. 4kbrianb

    4kbrianb Initiate (0) Jan 2, 2013 California

    Well then in that case... Bummer. I would have done the same thing if i saw that.
  30. fineout

    fineout Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2010 Rhode Island

    I agree, I really like the harpoon tours, I've been there probably 4 or so times for the tour/tastings and have gotten the same tour guide/bartenders a few times to the point where they will usually recognize me and fill me up before others.

    They know that they are too packed all the time and because of that they are opening a new, much bigger visitor center and tasting room on the other side of the brewery. It will be open in late february early march and there will be an early preview for "friends of harpoon" unfortunately it was only open to a few of the people in friends of harpoon and I didnt get in. they will also be making catwalks and overlook points for weekday tours so people can see everything in action which will be really cool. I just hope that it doesnt ruin the atmosphere of the place because it get too big.
  31. daysinthewake

    daysinthewake Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2010 California

    Totally. And to their credit they have always been very responsive to emails before and since.
  32. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,346) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I also try not to be "that guy". My wife will give me a gentle elbow in the ribs if I start down that path.
  33. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Holy crap the last two sentences might be the funniest thing I've ever read on BA
  34. arfenhouse

    arfenhouse Initiate (0) Oct 29, 2012 California

    "No beer allowed on the tour"
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  35. ericlawton007

    ericlawton007 Initiate (0) Jan 7, 2006 Connecticut

    I know this is the opposite of what the thread is about, but I had to let know everyone of my best tour, which was at Allagash. Very knowledgeable people, and the chance to see their barrel warehouse and ask questions about the different experiments that theyve got going on was pretty unique. When you see all the space they have devoted to experimental brews you can really understand the prices they need to charge to keep things going.
    thezoobrew, fmccormi, DanK4 and 3 others like this.
  36. ao125

    ao125 Initiate (0) Dec 1, 2010 Virginia

    I have two bad brewery tour stories:

    The first one was from Troegs. The tour was actually given by one of the Trogner brothers. I forget which one is which, but it was the one without glasses. He was really very short, evasive and didn't want to answer anyone's questions. Maybe he was stressed out, or maybe he had given his umpteenth-million tour, but he definitely didn't put his best foot forwards.

    The worst tour I've ever had though, was from this guy at Yard's brewing. He claimed he had been drinking since 9am and had also been taking Sudafed. He was also double fisting redbull and beer the whole tour. The tour was mainly about people being crushed to death, the grain mill exploding, how the guy was paid in beer, but was hoping to get paid for reall eventually. Oh yeah - and the tour was also about how on previous tours, he liked to lock people in the walk-in cooler. Quite possibly the worst tour I'd ever been given.
  37. LeRose

    LeRose Meyvn (1,260) Nov 24, 2011 Massachusetts
    Premium Member

    With any tour - how much has this changed in the last few years? We used to give plant tours, but with new insurance rules and particularly with new laws regarding food safety and the homeland security act (outfall from 9/11) we have had to stop. As we make food ingredients for some pretty heavy hitters, our customers also question the practice of untrained personnel in the production areas and potential GMP (good manufacturing practices) violations. Even I have to get new clearances every time I visit where I used to be able to walk in the door with my ID and a box of donuts (not always in that order). Accessibility (for lack of a better word) has changed significantly in my industry - just wondering if it has had some impact in breweries as well.

    For some, I imagine it is simply a case of eliminating cost.

    Dumbest tour ever for me - Capitol Brewery in Madison, WI. Here's a bunch of tanks, here's the brew kettle, here's the warehouse and the place was a mess. Best tour by far - business connections got me the full-blown behind the scenes tour at Robert Mondavi (no - not beer) but an amazing tour that ended in the private tasting room - talk about massive glassware confusion??? Had to be a hundred glasses on a six place setting.
  38. misterranger

    misterranger Initiate (0) Jan 21, 2007 California
    Beer Trader

    I went on a tour of the Gordon Biersch packaging brewery in San Jose and we got to sample the Martzen right off the lagering tank. In fact, there was a cart there full of glasses that we used and were allowed to keep.
    craigo19 likes this.
  39. vasinger

    vasinger Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2012 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    At the end of a tour, our guide announced we were going to have a contest for prizes. The first question was "Who is drunk?" i raised my hand and shouted that I was. The tour guide then handed me a bottle of water and told me to go sit down for awhile.
  40. videofrog

    videofrog Defender (655) Nov 13, 2010 Texas

    I actually got elbowed by my wife on a Jester King brewery tour. A hipster at a nearby table declared LOUDLY that Black Metal was "only 1 of 2 Russian Imperial Stouts brewed in the United States". My wife, who will only drink stouts and oktoberfests knew better and quickly elbowed me. After the guy felt eyes on him from several tables, he quickly amended his statement saying, "well, 1 of 2 regularly brewed..." I'm not even into correcting people about beer in public; don't know why that woman felt it necessary to elbow me.
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