Visiting breweries is a fun activity for a lot of people. It is a big business too. It is estimated that in 2018, worldwide people spent $1.1 Trillion with a T on travel and tourism. Within the travel industry people have often traveled for culinary and drinking experiences. Culinary meccas range from sampling French cuisine to Memphis Barbecue. Many spend time getting a feel for the local culture and food is a way to experience and connect with people. The late Anthony Bourdain was famous for food and drink centric examinations of different exotic and familiar locations. Wine regions like Tuscany in Italy and Napa Valley in California are famous and actively promote the local production of products through Enotourism or wine based travel.
As soon as President Carter removed the restrictions on home brewing in 1978 (took effect in 1979), people started once again brewing at home. Some naturally wanted to push this forward into commercial applications and this became the microbrewery, small brewery or craft brewery boom. Cities like Denver, Portland, and San Francisco became hot beds for small breweries. In Michigan Grand Rapids markets itself as “Beer City.” Michigan is the #6 state in terms of number of small breweries and they are scattered throughout the state in just about every region, town and city. The small brewers employ 21,000 people paying them over 914 million annually and generate $2.5 billion in annual economic impact some of which is visits and tour related.
Brewers large and small like to showcase their products and having people visit their facilities is a great way to emerge a consumer or potential consumer into the products they make. Many are very gracious hosts and welcome the opportunity to talk with people about what they make and do for a living. Typically breweries may feature a facility tour where visitors can see the equipment and learn what goes into producing the brands a brewer offers. There are city or even country beer focused tours to places as diverse as Grand Rapids and Belgium, Germany or England (sometimes tied in with major events like Oktoberfest). Finally many brewers put in beer gardens (a practice dating back to the middle ages) indoor or outdoor areas featuring entertainment and often special offerings that are experimental or unique to the brewers home location.
If you follow beer there are abundant on line resources. You can use map features to find a brewery near you or where you are visiting. You can find reviews. You can use aps to “check in” and share your thoughts about the products. You can also read what others or the brewery itself has for product and food offerings.
If you want to learn more about beer, visiting a supplier (beer, cider, wine or spirits) is a great way to gain information. It’s fun and something different. It is a way to impress your friends with tidbits of knowledge you have gained. It may even inspire you to start brewing at home or seek a career path in the industry. Check it out you might learn something and have fun!