With so many great breweries popping up in towns big and small all over the world, is it worth traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles just to check out a taproom or take a tour? This week we asked The Fervent Few if the idea of a "destination brewery" is still relevant.
Ross O'Neill: "Personally, the only outfit I would consider a destination Brewery would be New Glarus, at least around here in the far Western Chicago Burbs. It's about a 2+ hour drive for me, but I try and get up there at least 2-3 times a year. Yes you can get their beer just over the border for less than you pay at the brewery, but that facility is pretty special."
Jaron Wright: "We are obsessed with finding "the best." As long as these destination breweries have the hype train behind them, I think the 5 mile radius will actually bring in more people (now with a new interest in beer from their local) who want to try the next thing and make that trip to the destination."
Rick Owens: "For me at least, as long as Suarez Family Brewery, Hill Farmstead, Tired Hands and the like are making beers I will make an effort to get out of Georgia to go and visit them. Those places stand in their own category in having a unique brewery experience."
Threefrenchs: "Will travel for beer! Each of the last 3 years I’ve hit a minimum of 99 different breweries or brewery tap rooms. I’m over 70 so far for this year. Some stops are the bucket list type (New Glarus, Founders, New Belgium), but most are what I call “opportunity”. Right place, right time. And while I’ve found some duds, I’ve also discovered some gems. Day and weekend trips to check out a beer scene is still a great experience, even when there is plenty of great beer at home."
Hank Hanna: "Let's be honest here. There are some breweries that are making beer and making an experience worth driving for. And there are neighborhood breweries that have no clue what they are doing. I think certain places and types of places will always have a draw. Sierra Nevada in Mills River, NC is a great example. I go out of my way to go there every time I'm in town. Great beer, great food, great experience. Zillicoah Brewing is another that is off the beaten path in Asheville, but it is literally right on the French Broad River, so you can sit right out by the river while enjoying a beer. Make the effort to check it out."
Rob Cartwright: "I've moved away from the destination brewery idea, mostly because they never live up to the high expectations. Not that they aren't great, but once someplace is defined as a 'destination' some chunk of my brain puts it on a pedestal and I end up disappointed that the beer didn't change my life and wasn't served to me by a unicorn.
Of course, the next time I'm in Vermont you can be damn sure that I'm going to Hill Farmstead, so maybe I haven't totally given up on the destination idea."
Lana Svitankova: "It's a peculiar concept. Can you tell me what іs destination brewery? Is it a brewery with a taproom, where you can get a tour, have a meal, enjoy your stay to the most and worthy taking extra efforts for getting there? I just call it great brewery, because all in all you go for beer first and foremost. Even if the place is amazingly cool and super-friendly, educational, recreational—whatever—but beer is not good, it won't make it desirable. For me any brewery producing good beer and selling it on premises is a place worth of taking effort. And last few years all my vacations are beercations."
Rob Steuart: "Not from the States but we have a similar thing happening in Western Australia. Traditionally there have been a few breweries in the suburbs but they have been in entertainment districts. The rest have been in local holiday destinations, normally in food and wine areas a few hours drive from the major city. Those breweries are really building off the holiday vibe. People are travelling down for a weekend or a family holiday, staying in the area and they are in the mood to relax, eat, have a few beverages and pick up some special take aways. The breweries plan their spaces accordingly, they are on large holdings with big statement taprooms and restaurants and large play areas for families to come and spend an afternoon."
James Hernandez: "Anytime I travel I will always look for a cool beer spot to go to while I’m away from home. I would not call that a destination spot. I do think people still plan vacations that are in proximity to breweries they’ve always wanted to visit still. When I was is Boston last spring I had one shot to take at a brewery visit and Trillium was the easy choice for me. I think the destination brewery is alive and well, it just holds a different definition for every fan."
Matthew Modica: "I think it depends what circles you’re speaking to. If this was 10 years ago I’d say people were more interested in making sure to make a stop alongside their previously planned trips. I don’t know anyone in my field who has ever “needed” to see a brewery. For myself, even, when I’m in Belgium I didn’t really have a desire to see Cantillion. I did, twice, but I just didn’t care. Instead I took a bottle of Underberg on a photo tour of the brewery. If the desire is to see steel and people at work, or, in the case of Cantillion, spiderwebs of which you likely won’t understand, then you can see steel and people at work 5 miles from your house and hopefully support your local economy."
Wayne Pelletier: "I always research and plan to make a brewery visit when traveling to another country or US state. But, around town? Not so much. Now that there are a few good breweries near the house and along my common routes there is little need. Once in a while a social gathering at a new brewery across town is in order. My friends and I like to have visited them all. But, on the regular, my preference is to minimize the cost of the two Lyft rides and limit commute time so I can spend more time at the brewery."
Keith Allen: "Destination, it's never been going somewhere for a brewery, if I happen to be near one, I'll make an effort. Like being in Wellington NZ and having Garage Project the top of my list of things to do there! Or moving to Walthamstow and having to visit Beavertown."
Nick Yoder: "Given the low concentration of breweries within an hour of me, most breweries are actually "destination" breweries for me. The thing is that I'll happily drive an hour or so to check out a spot I haven't been but I don't necessarily consider those destination breweries. I save that designation for places like Jester King or Hill Farmstead, places where I might actually plan an overnight trip where the main purpose is visiting a brewery. And while I've yet to plan a trip for the sole purpose of visiting a brewery, the presence of nearby breweries on my must visit list certainly influences the destinations I consider. If I can find a spot that meets my family's vacation requirements and just happens to have a great brewery nearby, then those are the ones I pitch hardest."
Do you still travel far and wide just to check out a brewery? Let us know by joining The Fervent Few and chatting with fellow beer lovers while supporting all of the great content on Good Beer Hunting.