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Bad brewery tour stories.

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

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  1. Ranbot

    Ranbot Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Otter Creek and Magic Hat's tours are basically a window to their brewing areas, but you get free samples at least.

    The Yuengling brewery tour is really good if you're ever near Pottstown, PA. You see a lot of very old brewing equipment and they take you through the old cave tunnels below the brewery that they used prior to modern refridgeration.
  2. Pythonhgr

    Pythonhgr Dec 10, 2006 New Jersey

    Three Floyds for me. G/f wanted to check it out so we got there a 1/2 hour before the tour started. I asked the guy seating people how we'd know if the tour started. He told me the bartender would let us know.

    Well we never heard anything from the bartenders and I looked at my phone, 2 minutes late for the tour. I asked if we could bring our beers into the tour, even if we can pour them into plastic cups. They said no. I asked if they could put our drinks on the side since we had a huge lunch and couldn't drink the beers fast enough, they also said no. So that was $10 dumped down a drain.

    As for the actual tour. 2 min convo, put on safety goggles, move 10 feet into the brewery, another 2-5 min story, and then questions. All that for nothing. It was not fun, especially since we had to wait back in line outside (while it was 104 degrees) to get back in and try some beers.
    Arsenal0328 and evilhead like this.
  3. aliegarnett

    aliegarnett Jan 17, 2013 Ohio

    Best brewery tour I have ever been on was for New Belgium. We didn't know about the months long wait to get on a tour, fortuately for us, 2 people had cancelled and we got on a tour that day. Everything about the tour made me want to quit my job just to work as a tour guide there. Everything about that brewery is awesome.

    Most amusing tour would be Great Lakes Brewing. My friend and I took the first tour of the day at noon and were the only ones on the tour. Our guide started out by burping at the very beginning of the tour, it was a Saturday and he had definitely partook in several beers before the tour. Half way through the tour he stopped to pour us each a shot glass of the Christmas Ale to sample, he then took the bottle he just opened and finished it off while we sipped our small taster. Super nice guy and great brewery.
    robconoclast likes this.
  4. guajolote

    guajolote Sep 12, 2008 Oregon

    Chatoe Rogue in Independence, OR. The spot is super cool. A working farm (with lots of hop fields), along with a tap room, B&B, river access, etc. The only problem is it's run by Rogue. Surly and/or aloof employees with either no knowledge of the beers & brewing process or they just don't care. And a lot of the beer, IMO, is pretty meh.

    The tour includes the hop fields & the hop processing facility. That in itself is cool because, to my knowledge, there aren't a lot of places like that that give tours. However, the tour was led by a guy holding a big binder, which he read from the entire time. Questions were answered only if answers could be found in the binder. He was generally disinterested.

    Sorry to say, but it would be such an awesome place if it wasn't run by Rogue. I went once to check it out, but I doubt I'll go back. If, say, Deschutes or some other larger Oregon brewery ran it, I'd be there frequently. Oh well.
  5. mountsnow1010

    mountsnow1010 Jan 23, 2009 Vermont

    I can't speak to Boston but I recently went the Harpoon in Windsor, and my experience was the opposite of that. Easy and freely flowing tastings and a lengthy tour by someone who knew mostly what he was talking about, which is all you can expect for a volunteer.
  6. sandiego67

    sandiego67 Feb 25, 2008 California

    When I lived in Denver in the early 1990's, we would catch the Coors Tour bus at the Colorado School of Mines and take it to the brewery. The bus driver would make 2 stops when we were there; the first stop was for people who wanted to go on the "long" tour and see the tanks, the second stop was for people who wanted to go on the "short" tour (i.e. the tasting room).
  7. PangaeaBeerFood

    PangaeaBeerFood Nov 30, 2008 New York

    I had an awful experience vising The Maine Beer Co. They're a small brewery, so they're generally working during the short, hour-long tour and tasting that they do on Saturdays, which I have no problem with, but the guy doing the tour the one time I visited was just rude. He kind of blew the whole thing off like he had something better to do.

    Handed us the beers without telling us what they were. Didn't tell us anything about the company. He briefly walked us into the brewing section and gave us an unenthusiastic synopsis of "this is the mash tun, this is the boil kettle, this is the fermenter". Then, after like 5-10 minutes, without a single word, went back to working and just left us all standing there in the tasting room. We were all like "uhh... I guess we're done?" and just left.

    I wrote the company an e-mail telling them how displeased I was with the experience and how I felt like we were just made to feel unwelcome. No response. Great beer, but man, they need to rethink how they treat their customers.
    Squidly likes this.
  8. tcanaday

    tcanaday Oct 23, 2012 California

    Firestone's tour is pretty janky. No samples, no access to the barrel room whatsoever, and all in about 20 mins to boot....
  9. Ericness

    Ericness Nov 21, 2012 Massachusetts

    I've had good experiences on the Harpoon weekend tour, never gone during the week. The tasting at the end really depends on the group, but generally in my experiences getting pours hasn't been an issue despite a crowd. As for the liking part, my rule of thumb for Harpoon is do the 100 Barrel Series on tap, do whatever trial/experimental beer they have that particular day, and do the Leviathans. Other than the Celtic Ale I find their main offerings unimpressive but the Leviathans and 100 Barrels are usually worth it.
  10. machpost

    machpost Jun 11, 2005 District of Columbia

    How's the Dogfish Head brewery tour? I've been wanting to check it out, but we're usually heading down to the beach on short notice, and by then the tours for that weekend are long since booked.
    Squidly likes this.
  11. drewone

    drewone Sep 18, 2006 California
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    I've never heard of the Bruery offering tours. In the old tasting room you could see the whole brewery from where you were drinking - now you look through windows and can still see most of the brewery. The barrel room is in a whole separate facility miles away.
    That being said - after they had only been open for about a year a had to go to the OC to take my final architecture oral exam - it turns out it was only minutes from the Bruery - I drove over afterwords on a fluke to see what it was like, I went into the office and ended up getting a tour and tasting with Patrick Rue. Great end to one of the most stressful days of my life. (ps I passed). This was about 4yrs ago - I won't expect that to happen today.
    DrAwkward82 and daysinthewake like this.
  12. SeaOfShells

    SeaOfShells Feb 22, 2011 California

    I burnt the shit out of my hand on a kettle during a Lagunitas brewery tour. Yeah, I know. I'm a dumb dumb.
  13. MetalMountainMastiff

    MetalMountainMastiff Oct 1, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    I toured north coast when I was about 7(about 4 years after their opening)......Of course I don't remember any of it nor did I know i would become to love craft beer and their beer! all I have to signify the event is pictures of me as a child in a old rasputin shirt.......So bad brewery tour...was that I DONT remember touring one of my favorites
  14. weakness33

    weakness33 Jul 1, 2011 Illinois

    I wish that New Glarus had more than just the Friday only "Hard Hat" tours of their facilities. Those tours are super cool but only allow for 15 people to go and most of tours sellout months in advance. There is a "self-guided" tour you can do by walking around their main building but you really have no one to ask questions to (unless you get ahold of a person in the hall) or for more details from the small signs near the windows. :(
  15. 8eer

    8eer Mar 27, 2010 Oregon

    Worst/best brewery tour moment: I was giving a solo tour to a dude who was sporting a sweet marijuana leaf handkerchief on his noggin. At the end of the tour he asks me, "So what is it in beer that gets you f'd up?"
  16. jlenik

    jlenik Jan 22, 2009 New Jersey

    Cricket Hill.
  17. MCain04

    MCain04 Jan 3, 2013 Texas
    Beer Trader

    3 Floyds has an awful brewery tour. First off, if you want to eat/drink in the brewery, they will not hold your table while you go on the tour, so you have to time it right or face the consequences. If you decide to eat/drink in the brewpub after the tour, be prepared to wait 1.5-2 hrs after the tour is completed to sit down (even if you put your name in early, going on the tour bumps your name out of line). Really bad system.

    The tour itself? Given by some guy who seems to think he has better things he could be doing. Absent-mindedly talked about the basics behind brewing and not much into the actual history of the brewery. People would ask him questions about specific brews, collaborations, special releases, and he would shrug the answers off. The facility is not very big, so you stand in one of two spots for the majority of the 45 min "tour". The guide alluded to everyone being thirsy throughout the tour, giving false hope of some beer samples, but then just ended the tour and recommended we go into the brewpub to buy some draught beer. Which then took 2 hrs to do.

    I guess it's only fitting - you can make some of the best tasting beer in the world, but be really bad at telling people how you do it.
  18. tomthumbsblues

    tomthumbsblues Jul 27, 2004 Pennsylvania

    Yards Brewing in Philadelphia. Too many people on the tour, skimpy samples, and the guide was too eager to please with his bad jokes. Add to this mix a group of women who were taking the tour as part of a bachelorette party ('Here, take my picture by these sacks of grain while I'm wearing my feather boa') and it made for a very low-brow experience.

    Counterpoint: Philadelphia Brewing Company. Didn't realize it until after the fact, but the owner, Bill Barton, showed us around. Beautifully restored building. PBC is very active in the community. Got to sample maybe four or five beers--healthy pours too. Love 'em!
    Squidly likes this.
  19. tomthumbsblues

    tomthumbsblues Jul 27, 2004 Pennsylvania

    We must've had the same guide at Yard's! Didn't read your post until after I posted, but I remember that guy. He WAS the worst.
    ao125 likes this.
  20. Spider889

    Spider889 Mar 24, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I've done their tour twice and both times it was disappointing. It's very short and you essentially only see the grain mill and one of the Palo Santo foudres. The first time they were remodeling the tap room and the second time (a year later) they were doing construction in the brewery. So perhaps on a normal day the tours are better.

    That said, the brewery itself is awesome (love the Steampunk Treehouse). I recommend going, just ask for your tasting tickets and skip the tour.
  21. elNopalero

    elNopalero Oct 14, 2009 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I enjoy brewery tours and go on them every chance I can get. Even if the majority of them are all the same--here are the tanks, here is the mash tun, does anyone know what ingredients go into beer, who wants a sample?--there's always been just enough variation for me to stay interested. Plus I have a "how things work" fascination. While I've had bad experiences at breweries they haven't been during the actual tour, fortunately. So for me the worst brewery tours are the the ones where they just don't offer one. (Trust me, as soon as Russian River gives a tour open to the public I'll be there!)
  22. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    We liked that one. Were the only people on it and chatted at some length with a guy named Matt who gave us tastes from the Parabola barrels he was tasting that day. :)
    BrettHead, afrokaze and Squidly like this.
  23. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    Didn't know a brewery tour could be bad. The AB tour in St. Louis is impressive and free. Even though we piss and moan about AB, that place is pretty amazing. Go if you get the chance.
  24. RochefortChris

    RochefortChris Oct 2, 2012 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I wasn't knocking breweries in South Carolina, I was knocking Spartanburg. I had my college graduation a few blocks from the brewery and almost got car jacked after it was over!
    Falcone likes this.
  25. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    Shipyard's "tour" is a video and a step out onto a catwalk overlooking the bottling line.

  26. Giantspace

    Giantspace Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    So why go and be rude?
    evilhead and MudDrinker like this.
  27. Acidisco

    Acidisco Apr 20, 2010 Massachusetts

    I went on a tour at Magic Hat and I was talking to one of the guys serving samples at the bar/tasting room. He didn't know what a saison was. D'oh!!!
    Squidly likes this.
  28. razeup

    razeup Jan 18, 2013 New York

    I did the Dogfish Head tour this past summer and thought it was pretty great. Samples included a variety of different beers, we walked through the whole place from the tap room to the fermenters to the warehouse et al, and the guide was friendly and very knowledgeable (he was a newish brewer). Not sure what you'd define as short, but my tour was about an hour without the 2 last samples in the tap room at the end. I've only done 3 significant brewery tours (Sam Adams and Brooklyn's weekday), but Dogfish Head was as good or better than both. Sorry that you didn't get better, and who knows with the additional construction going forward.

    Worst brewery tour I've done was at the Chelsea Brewing company in NYC. Kid who gave the tour basically talked in front of some tanks next to a parking lot for 10 minutes about absolute basics and handed out 2 pitchers. Beer wasn't even good.
  29. LivingWeapon

    LivingWeapon Oct 29, 2012 Illinois

    Yeah I was quite disappointed when I did the tour a few werks ago. Just basically standing in one spot while getting a history of FFF and an explanation on how beer is brewed (I knew just about every little piece of "info" prior to the tour).

    Although we did have our name in for a seat at the pub and got called as soon as we went on the tour. So when we went back in after tour and explained the situation and with no hesitation he sat us right down even the tons of people were waiting. So that part worked out well.
    Arsenal0328 likes this.
  30. MCain04

    MCain04 Jan 3, 2013 Texas
    Beer Trader

    That's good to hear, glad your experience was better on that part. It really is great food and beer and a great environment, and I guess you can't fault them for not having a ton of equipment to show off given that they don't produce as much product. The tour sucked but it hasn't kept me from frequenting the brewpub as often as possible.
  31. Spider889

    Spider889 Mar 24, 2010 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Short is 20-30 minutes which is still too long when you're basically standing in a single room the whole time. (Half the tour was conducted in the tasting room; still plenty of fun anecdotes though I knew most already from "Quick Sip Clips" off their website.) Glad to hear that tours are normally better, which is what I'd expect from Dogfish Head. Like I said I still recommend visiting either way. Friendly staff, great atmosphere, and solid beer.

    I'll chime in and agree that New Belgium is the coolest brewery/tour I've been on to date though.
  32. Blueribbon666

    Blueribbon666 Jul 4, 2008 Ohio

    Priceless...you should have told him Chimay was the European arm of GM's Chevy line.
    RochefortChris likes this.
  33. Squidly

    Squidly Nov 26, 2006 New Jersey

    Magic Hat is a self-guided thing, which usually can be pretty lame. However the Magic Hat facility is pretty damned impressive. Decorated in a black-light/mardi-gras/steampunk style...it's worth a visit for the visuals.




    Heck the tasting room and shop are worth the visit alone, and I'm no big Magic Hat fan. Easy to get to if you're in Burlington.

    Long Trail has the elevated walkway thing going as well.



    Not much to see, but the attached restaurant and taproom are excellent. Get a spot on the back deck by the water and it's a good time.

    I've done Flying Fish (before the recent move), and they were very friendly. The guide was informative and willing to answer any and all questions. Samples were seemingly unlimited. I assume the same would be true at the new place.

    The Alchemist "tour" consists of a small room open to the main brewery. It's still freaking awesome, particularly if you are drinking a sample of Heady.




    Hill Farmstead ... you basically stand in the brewery while you buy your beer. No tour that I could see, but I guess you "might" get to chat with Shaun if he's not busy... :)


    I'm doing the Dogfish Head tour in February. Thinking about hitting Victory today.
    OMEGA_Critical, Chaney and SWChi like this.
  34. TheMonkfish

    TheMonkfish Jan 8, 2012 Chad

    The saving grace for the Maine Beer Co. tour I took was a sample of a collaboration they did with Sean Lawson. The tour itself was the "too cool for the room" guy pointing at the tanks and saying basically- "here's where they make the beer, any questions." The best one I had was across town at Rising Tide - those folks took the time to go through the process in detail and were happy to answer all the questions the visitors had.
  35. Squidly

    Squidly Nov 26, 2006 New Jersey

    (Realizing that Victory doesn't offer tours)
  36. amantini

    amantini Jul 7, 2009 Georgia

    "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."

    I've had very different experiences at RJ Rockers. While visiting the in-laws, I've gone twice over the last couple years. The brewery itself is a pretty small operation, and I was looking forward to the visit to try some fresh beer - particularly Black Perle. The last time I went there was a keg of oak-aged Black Perle that was very good. The staff were extremely nice and accommodating. The owner was there and he was willing to casually chat about new projects and just beer in general. There were several volunteers working, but I did not think it was offensive if one of said volunteers didn't know everything about beer or the brewing process. I think the point of tours is to taste some fresh beer and possible find some brews that aren't readily available. I don't really follow how your experience was "flat out terrible." If you are getting decent beers, dealing with a nice staff, and don't have to spend time standing in line for beers there really shouldn't be too much to complain about. I think SC is a little behind the craft beer movement, but I am willing to give a pass to the uninformed tour guide when everything else is so enjoyable. Shoot a BM next time you are in the area and we can arrange a tasting.

    Best tours I have been on are Allagash, Terrapin, and Good People. Allagash is a very low-key experience with free tastings and an informative tour. Terrapin holds lawn-party style tours with live music, beer taps everywhere, and a friendly staff. Good People in Birmingham allows customers in their tasting room (the same room as their brewhouse) where all beers are $5. There are many delicious beers, table games, and they were projecting the NFL playoffs when I was there recently.

    The worst tour I have ever been on was Sweetwater. Very small space that was overcrowded. Staff were beyond rude. The place had an immature frat house feel to it. Signs everywhere that read, "Girls with big boobs are needed to lead tours" along with signs for their "Donkey punch ale." It was difficult to get pours because of the lines and the general sourness of the people pouring beer. While in line for a tour, a brewery employee (judging from his work shirt) told my wife that he would be happy to give her a tour but I could not come. Overall, it is was pretty weird. I hope others have had decent experiences there. I have not had a taste of their beer since that time, and I have no plans to contribute any funds to them in the future.[/quote]
  37. Tom_Gilman

    Tom_Gilman Jan 4, 2013 Pennsylvania

    I've been on a bunch over the years and they've all been fine, with the exception of an occasional inaccuracy by the tour guide. No big deal.
  38. xnicknj

    xnicknj May 25, 2009 Pennsylvania

    "are you guys going to distribute to vermont?"

    "sorry, we're not actually in canada yet"
    MudDrinker and BigCheese like this.
  39. sandiego67

    sandiego67 Feb 25, 2008 California

    I've been on dozens of tours and the only one that I remember that charges money is Stone. Any others?
  40. dumpman

    dumpman Feb 6, 2010 Rhode Island

    If your up for a good "tour" go to a large macro brewery as they have the resources for customer relations. You will see how a large brewery operates.
    Micro breweries do not put much effort into the customer experience in my opinion but the tasting alone is reason enough to enjoy the experience.
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