One of the nicest things about my job is the opportunities it affords me for travel and discovery. I’m fortunate enough to be able to travel to places and do things many people would pay considerable sums of money to do, and get paid for it.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that I am in any way adverse to the idea of going on holiday and spending my own money in the pursuit of good beer. In fact, it was a trip to Bruges in December 2013 that really kick started my own journey of discovery in beer. Since then, I try to get back to Belgium a couple of times a year, and do at least one other beer-related trip in my own time a year.
It seems I am not alone in my willingness to travel for good beer. Although not a new phenomenon – people have been heading to Munich in their lederhosen for generations – beer tourism is a growing industry. Propelled by a desire to know more about the products they consume, and where they are made, drinkers are heading the world over in search of authentic beer experiences.
In on beer tourism for The Telegraph last month, Will Hawkes cited data from the Brewers Association that showed that almost 30 million people visited a brewery in the US in 2017. This is hardly surprising: A fresh IPA always going to taste much better drunk fresh just yards from where it is brewed than it would do in a pub in the UK.
Indeed, beer tourism is now such a phenomenon that you can even download and go on beer tours in 85 cities across the world thanks to a new app called Beer Adventures. The app allows you to go on pre-built crawls in a city of your choice, with added trivia and history about the venues and cities thrown in for good measure. If you’re into your beer, it’s probably likely to be a lot more useful than a peruse of Trip Advisor.
However, just as important as the beer itself is the insight that beer tourism gives the person into the culture and history of the place in which it is brewed. A visit to the famous Trappist breweries of Belgium and the Netherlands will teach you about the closely intertwined worlds of beer and religion, while after a trip to Pilsen you’re unlikely to be grumbling about your pint being served with too much foam. Beer is such a wonderfully diverse drink – both in terms of the styles brewed and flavours it can produce – so is it any surprise that the cultures and places in which the best examples are produced are equally as diverse?
My favourite beer destination is and will always remain Belgium for the sheer quality and variety on offer, as well as the nation’s rich and vibrant brewing history. However, Germany and the Czech Republic are not far behind. What’s the best Beercation you’ve been on, and what made it so special? Get in touch by sending me a tweet or commenting below.