As people around the world embrace craft beer, beer travel is a growing trend. We do it for wine, so why not beer, asks Rebecca Whyman, a member of Campaign for Real Ale.
Whyman says she would love to travel more often for beer — but when going to every beer festival worldwide is not in your budget, she say you can still get some decent craft beer on your holidays.
Whyman recommends starting with some research on the Internet to find out which breweries are near your destination, and what events are taking place while you're there. She says a recent trip of hers to Mexico produced some delicious results, and on an upcoming trip she will be going to the Las Vegas Beer Fest.
Before you arrive, you can plug into the local beer scene, and start following beer makers on social media.
Beer Advocate is a beer magazine and website that can help you find craft beer locales in cities throughout the U.S. and a few other countries. They also have a very extensive beer events calendar.
Ratebeer.com also has an extensive beer events calendar for the U.S. and some other countries, as well as reviews of breweries, brewpubs, bottle shops and craft beer bars.
Some of Whyman's friends also take B.C. beer with them when they travel to share with the locals. They are often given beer in return to bring home with them. She says this is a great way to bring B.C. beer to foreign places, making you a beer ambassador.
If you are actually intentionally chasing beer around the world, more planning is needed. First, you have to research beer festivals and beer-centric cities, find out when their festivals are and then plan your travel around them. One of the oldest beer destinations has been Germany’s Oktoberfest.
A few other festivals of note are the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colorado in October, and Montreal's Mondiale de la Biere in June.
Festivals aside, beer destinations can also be about the place itself. Whyman recommends travelling to Belgium to try all those great Belgian beers right from the source. Take a tour of the monasteries to learn about the Trappist beers, and bring some of the beer only available on site home with you.
The Westvleteren brewery only sells their beer one case at a time and only by appointment at their door, says Whyman. Achel makes four different styles of beer but only sells one. The only way to try some of these beers is to travel to Belgium.
There are plenty of great beer-centric cities to visit a little closer to home, she adds. Portland Oregon tops that list. Rebecca says she tries to get there at least twice a year as new breweries are cropping up in the city at least as frequently as in Vancouver.
Here are Rebecca's beer picks for this week, from Belgium and Portland:
- Chimay Red, White and Blue caps are all available at specialty liquor stores. (Blue is a strong dark ale, Red is a dubbel and White is a trippel)
- Gigantic IPA is available at specialty liquor stores in 22 oz. bombers.
- Hopworks organic lager is available at specialty liquor stores in four-packs of cans.