Some call it beercation. For me, it’s glorified road tripping/couch surfing, and it doesn’t have to be as expensive as the trendy name suggests. Here are four tips for beer pilgrimages on the cheap in 2015. (You can also check out our online beercation articles about Portland, Chicago, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Burlington.)
Headed out on a business trip? If you’ve got the time, make a point to have dinner at a local brewpub or check out a brewery in the neighborhood where you’re staying. More and more, you can find craft brewery bars, tap houses, and attractions at the airport, too.
Tip: Check out the Beer Mapping Project for a list of apps to download to your iPhone or Android device that will instantly connect you to the closest breweries, beer bars, homebrew shops, and more in your area. Or check out the Society of Beer Travelers’ Starter Kit, which includes the BreweryMap app that has a database of more than 4,000 breweries and brew pubs. The app can find all the breweries within a defined radius of your current location.
Find A Bottle Shop
If there’s no time to brewery hop, find a craft-beer bottle shop and scan the shelves for its local offerings. The staff members at these specialty stores are often the best experts on the beer scenes in a city. Depending on the state you’re in, you might even be able to drink a beer on draft before you go.
_Tip: _There’s not a comprehensive guide to these often small mom n’ pop businesses, but if you check out the websites of a city’s or town’s local breweries, they often include pages on where to find the brewery’s packaged offerings.
Pitch A Tent
It’s sometimes free and always cheap to go camping. Plan a warm-weather adventure that involves visiting rustic, off-the-radar craft-beer destinations by day.
Tip: Once again, there’s not exactly a definitive guide for this category of destination breweries close to outdoor recreation. Before you go, check out craftbeer.com’s Find A U.S. Brewery page for local listings. Perhaps the best way to find those hidden gems is to ask fellow hikers on the trail for their nearby craft-beer recommendations.
Know a Local
I both confess and apologize here to all of my out-of-town friends and relatives about my ulterior motives. With craft breweries cropping up en mass across the country, it’s never been a better time to sleep on all of their couches. And who better than those friends or family to recommend local craft-beer watering holes?
_Tip: _Always arrive with hostess gifts (e.g., bombers or growlers from the brewery you’ve toured that day).