Best Brewery Tour Experiences

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by 1009, Jun 8, 2020.

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  1. Budlum

    Budlum Meyvn (1,172) Mar 23, 2006 Maryland
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    Yes. Beer, staff, brewery, and experience above all others.
     
  2. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Sierra Nevada in Mills River NC was the best industrial tour of any kind I have ever taken. The most fun I had on a brewery tour was the self guided tour at Magic Hat in Burlington VE . The fun had little to do with tour itself. It had everything to do with the 2 girls touring ahead of me. They seemed to think the tour was best taken a bit drunk and wearing as little clothing as passible.
     
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  3. Cubatobaco

    Cubatobaco Crusader (771) Jan 27, 2013 Virginia
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    Only have done a handful, but New Glarus was very cool! Beautiful facility and grounds! DFH is always fun. Stone's new facility is Richmond, VA is cool too!
     
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  4. zac16125

    zac16125 Poo-Bah (2,351) Jan 26, 2010 South Carolina
    Society Trader

    As others have said, Sierra Nevada Mills River (Asheville) is awesome. I’m not much into tours but the facility is amazing, just incredibly impressive and in a beautiful location.
     
  5. OK_Denise

    OK_Denise Aspirant (287) Apr 10, 2020 Oklahoma

    Iron Monk Brewery in Stillwater, OK does a great tour. I learned a ton about the brewing process and also some about the business side of the craft beer industry. Very interesting.
     
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  6. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    I really hated the Pilsner Urquell tour. Other than the bit at the end where you get to taste beer directly out of one of the wooden lagering vats.
     
  7. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Harvey's of Lewes would be my standout. A wonderful old brewery with a wonderful gentleman of a head brewer in Miles Jenner. Where else would you get to see yeast being stored in open buckets?
     
  8. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Schell's was pretty damn cool, too. They even have a van Linde ice machine.
     
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  9. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Only been to Stone out of the top ten. Though I can't comment on the usual tour there as I just had Mitch Steel show me around.
     
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  10. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    Best thing about Fuller's are the old bits of brewing kit which they've left in situ. Like the dropping fermenters.
     
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  11. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    How could I have forgotten FX Matt? The weirdest brewery I've been around. The Lincoln tanks just blew my mind.
     
  12. PGHPABeerdrinker

    PGHPABeerdrinker Initiate (41) Aug 21, 2018 Pennsylvania

    I've been on the Troegs general tour multiple times, and it's great. I finally was able to get a reservation for the Splinter tour in April, but then Covid happens. I was able to reschedule in July, so I'm crossing my fingers that it happens.
     
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  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,558) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Yeah, that was great!:slight_smile:

    Here is Jakub pouring me my beer:

    [​IMG]

    Na Zdravi!
     
  14. HattedClassic

    HattedClassic Poo-Bah (3,014) Nov 23, 2009 Virginia
    Society

    Best Ones I've Been to:
    Sierra Nevada Chico: I went on their Beer Geek Tour of their Chico facility. It was great learning about the history of the brewery and walking through almost every new addition since its beginning.

    Allagash: Solid AF. Plus the house beer that you can't get anywhere else (at least you couldn't when I went ages ago) at the end was delicious.

    Ommegang: It's a beautiful facility. I don't remember the tour because of how long ago it was but I do remember the game of stickball that was going while I was there.
     
  15. JonB25

    JonB25 Devotee (443) Jun 2, 2013 Delaware
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    Are you sure it wasn't townball at Ommegang
     
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  16. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    I really enjoyed that bit. I'm noticing now that the ends of the staves are painted green. In the UK and Germany it's almost always red.
     
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,558) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Because green means "Go!".:stuck_out_tongue:

    Na Zdravi!
     
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  18. John123will

    John123will Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2018 Indiana

    In my experience brewery tours are highly dependent on the people on the tour and the guide. I’ve been on smaller tours with tour guides that are not knowledgeable or just not enthusiastic and hurts my tour experience. I’ve also had tour guides that are enthusiastic but because there was a large group of people unfamiliar with beer the tour was rather boring for me. My best experiences have been from small tours with my close friends and an enthusiastic guide. There are plenty of amazing breweries out there so in my opinion the brewery itself has less of an effect on the tour experience as the people on the tour.
     
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  19. ClemsonMike

    ClemsonMike Initiate (109) Aug 13, 2010 South Carolina
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    New Belgium in Asheville is very good. Be prepared to take a little nap afterwards (plenty of free samples).
     
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  20. marquis

    marquis Champion (812) Nov 20, 2005 England

    My visit to Bass was like that. We were met by a middle aged lady who told us that they were not ready yet, could we return in an hour or so. On our return she took us along miles of vinyl floor with the occasional porthole to view some stainless steel pipes, she did not even know what was being brewed. We arrived at the hospitality room a few minutes before it closed, we managed a pint each.
    For that we had hired a coach and wasted a whole afternoon.
     
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  21. John123will

    John123will Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2018 Indiana

    The best part of the Pilsner Urquell tour was easily going into the old cellar area and tasting the barrel aged pilsner!
     
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  22. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    I'm lucky in that I usually get shown around by a brewer.
     
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  23. marquis

    marquis Champion (812) Nov 20, 2005 England

    The best trip was to Shipstone's, we were taken on the tour and then went back to the hospitality suite which was the restored interior of the Dolphin. We were given a pint glass and invited to help ourselves from rows of casks from different brewing dates. There was a table of superb food where we helped ourselves and we were invited to stay as long as we wanted.
    All for no charge whatsoever.
     
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  24. patto1ro

    patto1ro Zealot (598) Apr 26, 2004 Netherlands

    I went around Shippos with Newark CAMRA and had a very similar experience. Dead interesting to see what a couple of day's difference could make to a beer.
     
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  25. Newport_beerguy

    Newport_beerguy Defender (637) Feb 24, 2011 Rhode Island
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    It's been a while on the tour front but:

    * Tours at both Harpoon breweries were great, probably preferred the VT brewery. My Boston tour was before the expanded beer hall, when the only way to get draft beer was at the end of a tour or 4-5pm on Fridays.

    * I saw Sam Adams ranked highly and was like ???? I went during their last renovation maybe 4-5 years ago and pretty much looked around some displays in a lobby area and then went into a tasting room. Good session, but not much of a tour. Maybe that has changed.

    * The old Jack's Abby brewery tour in their original location was informal and well done, my particular Saturday one of the Hendler brothers was running it. Haven't been on a tour at their latest location but looking through the windows at the brew floor it must be a great experience.

    * The two PA brewery tours I've done (Troegs and Yuengling) were excellent as has been echoed above. Driving up to Yuengling and seeing the box trucks struggle I'm like why in the hell was putting a brewery on the side of this freaking mountain a good idea? Then you go down into the caves, get into an 1800s low tech mind set and it all makes sense.
     
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  26. ClarkstonMark

    ClarkstonMark Initiate (103) Feb 21, 2016 Michigan
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    My best tour ever was Sam Adams. It is surely not the same now.
    This was in the late '88 or '89, and our tour guide was Jim Koch. After the tour we were drinking a pint on picnic tables listening to Jim talk about a new beer that was not for sale yet, but he had a six pack that he was pretty proud of sitting on the table for us to see. My buddy and I pulled out 2 bottles, opened them, and started drinking (we were 21 at the time). Jim had this look of shock on his face, clearly he wasn't planning on having people drink this, but he recovered amazingly and offered the other few people on the tour if they wanted to try it.
     
  27. Newport_beerguy

    Newport_beerguy Defender (637) Feb 24, 2011 Rhode Island
    Trader

    And that beer was...Utopias? Jim realized before public release he needed to change the packaging from a 6-pack of longnecks and make a high price point. Imagine if that was the case! lol
     
  28. Tacoma_Dan

    Tacoma_Dan Initiate (87) Jan 14, 2014 Washington
    Trader

    Cantillon, 3F, and Boulevard are stand outs. Locally for me in the Seattle area it’s fun to hit several breweries during a Washington Beer open house weekend that offers tours.
     
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  29. drocpsu

    drocpsu Initiate (189) Dec 25, 2006 New Hampshire

    Yep. I love the Allagash one.
     
  30. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (471) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    A million years ago, (well, 40?) my parents werevisiting friends in New Hampshire and we all went on the tour of the Bud facility there. I was probably 4, maybe 5, so I don't remember much, but I remember getting to drink a soda in the tasting room, which overlooked the bottling line, so I could see thousands of bottles zipping past on the rails. I also remember seeing the stables with the Clydesdales. They kind of scared me because they were so big (I didn't mind horses in general, but those things were HUGE,) but I liked the Dalmatian dog that was hanging out there.
    A friend of mine went there. He knew roughly where it was, so he was walking around the square there, and a local sees him, asks, "are you looking for the brewery?" and points him to it.
    Went around and Jean Van Roy was around at the end and poured him a few samples.


    Whoever it was who was disappointed in the Sam Adams tour, that's not the usual. You said you went during a renovation, so I'm sure that's why the whole thing wasn't there. As of the several times I've been, usually you get a little video in the lobby, then go through the various stages - the brewing facility there (test kitchen, plus the big beers, Utopias etc) they talk about the grains and hops, I peeked in the barrel room last time I was there, and a few other things before the tasting room. Then of course the shop...
     
  31. npolachek

    npolachek Meyvn (1,017) Jul 13, 2018 New York
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    I’d recommend Allagash in Portland, Maine. They really explain what goes into making the beer and are generous with the tastings. There are also a lot of special brewery only beers at the brewery that you can have after the tour.
     
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  32. billandsuz

    billandsuz Zealot (502) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Ommegang comes to mind.

    We stopped touring breweries a bunch of years ago, after it became fashionable. I'm too sophisticated to be seen with the peasant class. Now that tours are a marketing solution the experience has sadly been dumbed down to the comical.

    Back around 2000 the Ommegang tour was nuts. I think the staff was well lubed. The tour guide brings the group into the warming room, where bottles are conditioned. And grabs hold of an empty bottle, proceeds to slam it into the concrete floor. The bottle bounces across the room. This is the demonstration of how robust the bottles need to be to hold the pressure. Like I said. Nuts.

    We did the tour again a few years after the first time. No smashing of the bottle took place. I asked the tour guide about this and with no smile, he explains they changed bottles... perhaps that smashing the bottle exercise was ill advised.

    I only wish to have witnessed the first and last time the bottle exploded in front of a crowd. They have a good time at that place. Great beer too.
    Cheers
     
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  33. billandsuz

    billandsuz Zealot (502) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Allagash circa 1998 was plenty of fun. There was a time if you showed up at a brewery tasting room and showed some knowledge and an interest, the staff would take you around and talk shop. No planning, just beer nerds. Rob Tod shared with us openly, answered any question. Generally a really great guy. The whole operation was fantastic. I learned more about brewing a wit that day then all of the books I have read since. The guy just knew what to do and did it.

    Across the parking lot is Geary's. Not my favorite brew, but to each there own. Now at this brewery (I am pretty sure it was the brewery at the time) the legendary David Geary was working. Suffice it to say he was not all that thrilled to have visitors. Maybe he was having a bad day, but his enthusiasm for giving time to visiting beer geeks was less than impressive. I think the poor guy was already underwhelmed with the direction the business was heading by the late 90s He was already over a decade into it and the novelty had clearly worn off. At least on that particular day.

    Bonus-
    Steðji Flókada, Borgarnes, Iceland.
    Because Iceland. And the fact that the brewer did not get the memo about brewery tours being a marketing thing. So we had a great time. A whole other planet out there.
    We missed the actual brewery and walked into their home. There's shoes in front, TV on. Oh shit! This is their house! Got back in the car, drove around back and there it is, a complete DIY project with very good beer. We noted that they would need to discontinue the Beer With Whale Testicle if they ever planned to make a showing in the US.

    Cheers
     
    #73 billandsuz, Jun 22, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2020
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  34. Redrover

    Redrover Poo-Bah (3,625) Jan 18, 2003 Wisconsin
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    My last tour was La Brasserie Artisanale de Nice. I contacted the brewer/owner before our arrival in France and asked him if he had a tap or tasting room. The answer was no, but please stop by for a quick tour. We were there about 4 hours and had as many samples of his beer as we wanted. he filled us in the craft scene in Nice and surrounding areas, his use of local ingredients (chick peas in one), how/why he became a brewer (a visit to CO and the USPNW) , etc.. Just really memorable day.

    Next one was Cantillion, the history and beer are amazing. Wish I knew how to post photos as I have some incredible ones as we were there on a brewing day.

    Last but not least is Half Acre's first brewery on Lincoln Avenue in Chicago. We are on our annual German Pub Crawl (miss that) and we had contacted them about the possibility of tour. They were still getting situated but agreed to host the 40+ folks on the crawl. Fresh Daisy Cutter out of the tanks was incredible after the steady diet of lagers that we were drinking that day.
     
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  35. RKP1967

    RKP1967 Disciple (309) Sep 26, 2010 Virginia

    I've been on a bunch of them but my favorites were:

    Casey in Colorado
    Allagash in Portland
    De Haave Maan in Bruges
    New Belgium in Colorado and NC
     
  36. Giantspace

    Giantspace Savant (967) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Allagash was fun. Wish I had time to chill outside. We got 4 free samples of non bottled beer but you could not buy a pint,only bottles to go. Ask to see the cool ship. It was not part of the tour but when I asked the girl leading the tour was excited to give us a personal tour.

    AB in Colorado was interesting and the Horses were there that day. We also had a lot of samples after the tour.

    I heard Lakefront was a blast by a bunch of co-workers that went, it was fish fry Friday, a huge thing in Milwaukee.

    I did the Pabst Best house tour and it was really fun, informative and beers were given away on the tour. I got to sit at the captains Desk in his chair.

    No others pop up as memorable. I will go to any tour I can get to while I am visiting someplace. The plague has changed this, at least for a while.

    Enjoy
     
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  37. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,486) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I'd guess I did Ommegang somewhere around that period (give or take a few years, either way). It was kinda dull but I chalked some of that up to the fact that the rest of tour group were more "tourists" ("Hall of Fame"- check, "Farmer's Museum (Cardiff Giant)" - check, Hey, look, Marge, here's a brewery tour right outside of town. Free beer!) than "beer tourists". I was a bit surprised/disappointed when the beer served at the end was not only not draught but poured from previously opened bottles.

    But pretty sure it was my first "in person" view of open fermentation (through the window of the door). Other than that, I most remember dodging forklifts. Funny, but I bet I've consumed a LOT less Ommegang since then than I did previously.
     
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  38. billandsuz

    billandsuz Zealot (502) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Been to Cooperstown maybe a dozen times. Been to Hall of Fame exactly zero (angry Dad's. We are going to have fun son, like it or not!) You can spot them at Ommegang. Could not agree more.

    Ommegang is very bottle focused. They do of course have draft but not nearly to the extent of any other sane brewery. The bottle conditioning is a feature after all.

    We were fortunate enough to have been invited to the BCTC Friday evening invite only Industry dinner a few times. The beer needless to say flows free. Literally hundreds of bottles uncorked, one after the other. Cave aged. Rare aged. Anything and everything. Handed out like candy. People with access to good beer were amazed at this extravagant display of bottles. The wait staff did not hesitate to uncork a bottle for one glass. Then uncork another, and another, and another. Black limos waiting after the event for anyone who needed a ride. The stretch kind. Just get in and go. I'm still amazed.

    Those people are nuts.
    Cheers
     
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  39. eldoctorador

    eldoctorador Champion (824) Dec 12, 2014 Chile

    Conan tour of Sam Adams' looked fun :stuck_out_tongue:

     
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  40. pjbear05

    pjbear05 Initiate (137) May 28, 2008 Florida

    Not in the NHRA. There it's "Go on Yello."

    Prosit!
     
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