Why I Travel for Beer
This post is part of The Session 93, hosted over at the Roaming Pint.
I am fond of beer. I'm also quite fond of travel. So it's the best of both worlds when I get to travel for beer.
Now, candidly, I've really only taken one big trip purely for beer. Two years ago I took my adventure loving wife on a trip to Belgium, beer's holy land, where we spent a couple of weeks touring different breweries and visiting some of the finest beer bars in the world. Cantillon was, and always will be, one of the finest beer production facillties I have ever been to, not least because I got to spend a half hour tasting one-on-one with Jean Van Roy (which is not uncommon there).
But I regularly make side jaunts on my regular travels in order to take in beer culture or track down beers that are unavailable in my area. In fact, it's rare that I don't do that in my regular travels.
Much like a foodie is compelled to sample the food immediately when visiting a new culture, I do this because it gives me a sense of the local culture. It allows me to interact with local people who share at least one of my major passions. It connects me to the community and the environment in the places I visit. And it allows me to taste beers that I would not be able to taste at home, which is both an adventure and a "cool" factor as well (tasting Westy or Heady Topper at their respective breweries, for example, is almost as "cool" to talk about as to do. Well, not really, but it is still cool). I love to taste beers at local brew pubs who don't distribute at all, as that feels the most local of all, especially if the brew pub has a passion for farm-to-table pratices. I love to check out the highly rated venues as they always impress, but just as much so I like to find the hole-in-the-walls with a passion for beer but less pomp and circumstance surrounding. And, finally, I love to watch how beer culture evolves over time. When I moved to Austin in 2006, for example, the beer culture was downright terrible. Today? There are dozens of new breweries producing some of the most sought after beers out there (see: Jester King).
It's rare that I leave home and don't return with a bag full of beer from other places, especially if I have the time to check a bag (it's not always possible on my business trips). For me, beer culture is inseparable from the other aspects of culture of the places I visit, and I'd be remiss if I didn't check it out along the way.