Kicking back and sipping a frosty beer is the perfect way to kick off a well-deserved vacation, if you ask me. From lagers to ambers to pale ales, the possibilities are endless and delicious. Next time you’re in a new city and want to imbibe, take a tour of a local brewery to really have a reason to raise your glass. Here are TravelMuse’s top five picks for best brewery tours.
Anchor Brewing Company
Location: San Francisco, Calif.
Hours: Two tours a day Mon. through Fri., by reservation only. Call at least a month in advance.
Anchor, founded in San Francisco in 1896, has seen its fortunes rise and fall through the years, but it is firmly established today as a treasured local institution. Touring the gorgeous handcrafted copper brewhouse, where all the beers are handmade, is quite an experience. The walking tour of the brewery lasts about 45 minutes. The guide teaches a brief history of the brewery and walks you through three floors of the building. Afterwards, on to the tasting. Tel. 415-863-8350, www.anchorbrewing.com
Location: St. Louis, Mo.
Hours: Open daily. Call for hours, which vary with the season.
Of note: Tours also are available at the Fairfield, Calif., Fort Collins, Colo., Jacksonville, Fla. and Merrimack, N.H. facilities.
A trip to the world headquarters of “King of Beers” involves visiting the historic Budweiser Clydesdale Stable, Beechwood Lager Cellars, historic brewhouse and Bevo Packaging Facility. You’ll finish up in the Hospitality Room for a tasting. Even if you don’t like beer, it’s a treat to see the famous Budweiser Clydesdales in their stables. An optional tour offered is the “Beermaster Tour” ($25 for adults; $10 for those under 21). More in-depth than the regular tour, you’ll go behind the scenes, plus sample beer directly from a finishing tank and get a variety of gifts. Tel. 314-577-2626, www.budweisertours.com
Location: Boulder, Colo.
Hours: Mon.-Fri., 2 p.m. or by appointment.
Colorado’s first microbrewery, started in 1979 by two home brewing college professors, doesn’t take itself too seriously. Start your tour of the brewery with a beer in hand, then go to the brew pub to learn more about the beers, and of course, sample them. Of note is that the company was granted the 43rd brewery license in U.S. history. By 2005, there were more than 1,500. Tel. 303-444-8448, www.boulderbeer.com
Great Lakes Brewing Co.
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Hours: Fri., 4 to 8 p.m.; Sat., 1 to 8 p.m.
Great Lakes Brewing Company, the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio, was founded by two brothers inspired by travels (and beer) in Europe. The large brewery has six buildings, three of which originally served as horse stables and kegging facilities for the Schlather Brewing Company, which was built in 1878. Fun fact: Bullet holes in the beautiful Taproom are said to have come from “The Untouchable” Eliot Ness. Check out brewing tanks in the brewhouse, dine in the beer cellar, or sample beers in the indoor/outdoor beer garden. Private tours ($50 for a maximum of 30 people) are also available. Tel. 216-771-4404, www.greatlakesbrewing.com
Samuel Adams Brewery
Location: Boston, Mass.
Hours: Mon. to Thurs., Sat., 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Fri., 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Admission: Though the tour is free, a suggested $2 donation is encouraged. The money goes to local charities. Kids allowed with an adult.
You’ll get the spiel, almost legend now, of founder Jim Koch’s vision for a better beer in America while you learn about the brewing process. Pick up any number of Sam Adams merchandise at the brewery’s gift shop, open during tour hours. For those going to a Fenway game in the summer on select Friday nights, a special tour treat combines beer, baseball and a free ride; take a tour and get a lift to the game on an Old Town Trolley between 2 and 5:30 p.m. Tel. 617-368-5080, www.samueladams.com
Based on “Top 5 Brewery Tours” by Kim Foley MacKinnon.