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Session #29: 5 essential beer destinations

The SessionThis is my contribution to The Session #29 hosted by Gail and Steve from Beer by BART. The theme is “Will Travel for Beer.” Visit them for the recap of what others have to write on this topic.

Our family loves travel — even in the years we don’t visit 49 states, 9 Canadian provinces and territories, and 15 countries in Europe — and think pretty highly of beer, but there a few times we travel for beer. Because we don’t have to. If a good beer experience isn’t always available right around the corner then it’s usually not too long a drive. This ain’t 1994. Thus my real advice to you is travel a lot, visit national parks, brake for good pie, and the beer will take care of itself.

But that’s a bit short for a Session post, isn’t it? So here are five destinations to consider if you intend to combine travel and beer.

1. Neuhaus in a bit of northern Bavaria known as the Oberfplaz on German Reunification Day, the only day of the year all the Zoigl breweries in town serve their beer. By chance I wrote about this for Session #20.

2. Poperinge in the West Flanders region of Belgium for its Hop Festival, held on the third Sunday of September every three years (next one in 2011). This is not a beer festival (though an afternoon of Poperings Hommel Bier works fine), but you can go beer hunting the rest of your time in Belgium. So get there early to visit the hops museum, then find a place to enjoy the parade.

Parade at Poperinge Hops Festival

Residents from throughout the region, and as far away at Germany, dress up to participate the lengthy celebration that weaves through the town. Including a stunning number of children, such as those in the photo above, many in hop costumes.

3. The English countryside, on foot, “rambling” from town to town, sleeping, eating and drinking in pubs. We did this in 1994 and really need to go back.

4. Pelican Pub & Brewery in Pacific City, Oregon. The most beautiful setting for a brewpub in America. Great beer and food almost seems like a lucky bonus.

5. The National Homebrewers Conference. The June 2010 gathering will be in Minneapolis-St. Paul (the public parks capital of the world). Greg Noonan of Vermont Pub & Brewery said this back in 1998, but it remains true:

“When the homebrewers stop entering the profession, and the backyard breweries are squeezed out, then it will become stagnant. You gotta keep getting the guys who say, ‘Cool, I can sell the beer I make. I can do it.’ ”

The NHC is one look at the future of American beer. You don’t need to be a homebrewer to appreciate the week. Top-flight commercial brewers will be there to share secrets and serve beer.


5 Responses to Session #29: 5 essential beer destinations

  1. Boak July 4, 2009 at 6:52 am #

    Ah, the Dorset coast. Beautiful for walking, and lots of good pubs, although I don’t like Palmers beer much.

    A good walk and a pub lunch is the best experience – although it’s often more difficult to achieve than it should be – I’ve had a couple of days ruined by lousy public transport links and unfriendly pubs serving stale beer.

  2. Stan July 4, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    Hey Boak – We are thinking of Cotswolds next time.

  3. Jeff Alworth July 4, 2009 at 7:29 pm #

    It is gracious of you to cite Pelican. As someone who has traveled extensively–but mostly outside the beer world–I would not expect to see a young Oregon (or American) brewery make the list. Surely we should serve our centuries.

    As for homebrewing, I don’t think there’s anything to worry about. I have lately been in contact with some homebrewers in Oregon whose sophistication exceeds all but a handful of pro breweries. One homebrewer has years of sour beer (lambics really, but not spontaneously fermented) he carefully mixes. He’ll never go pro and the only way to try his beer is to be invited over to his house. Amazing to think of all the amazing beer we will never have a chance to taste.

  4. Gail Williams July 4, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

    This was so much fun to work on. The whole set of Session #29 posts is up now linked from the round-up page at:

    I was delighted that you cited walking in England as a great beer vacation, since Steve and I had such an amazing time on the Coast-to-Coast trail years ago, and it was one of the things that shifted us to being active students and appreciators of beer, but the people and the land were the main event, of course.


  1. The Session: Will Travel For Beer (Roundup #29) « Beer By BART - July 4, 2009

    […] Hieronymus, founder of The Session (Beer Blogging Fridays), lists five specific great beer destinations you may not have thought about, and also encourages you to travel happily by seeking out national […]

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