I love going on brewery tours, but as far as I’m concerned, the tour portion of the stopover are all largely the same. Once you’ve seen one vat of fermenting hops, you’ve seen them all. Therefore, I will largely base my brewery experience on the intangibles (tastings, other exhibits, etc.) of our visits. Without further ado then, here are some of my favourite breweries that I’ve been able to get to:
Heineken – Amsterdam, Netherlands
Dubbed ‘The Heineken Experience’, this brewery tour is so much more than a quick walk through the brewing and bottling plant. They have everything from a station you can record a video at and send to your family and friends, to instruments made out of Heineken supplies, and, of course, a bar with multiple tastings to enjoy. We even made friends with an Aussie traveling on his own, enjoyed some brews together, and ended up all going to dinner at the nearby Hard Rock Café.
Whistler – Whistler, Canada
I liked the Whistler micro-brewery set up. Once the tour was done, you had all the company’s beer to choose from in a bar like setting, complete with board games, good food, and good company. My only note of advice is that the place is a little outside of Whistler Village, so you’ll either need a designated driver to get your crew there or luck out and have your hotel offer a shuttle to and from the outlet.
Holsten – Hamburg, Germany
What could be more fun than a brewery tour? How about one in a language you don’t understand! Ma Sip knows some German, so she was able to fill in any blanks, if necessary, but we were largely there to see, not hear… and eventually taste. When we were trying to book the tour, we were told that only groups were allowed. Ma Sip replied that we were a ‘group of four’ and our visit was on! I’ll always fondly remember the beer and pretzels we were given in the tasting portion of the attraction.
Granville Island – Vancouver, Canada
One of my favourite local micro-breweries, it’s always fun popping into the Granville Island Brewery, which has a great little area for taste tests, a stocked gift shop, and their tour isn’t too bad either… because it’s relatively short! They know people are mostly there for the samples. Granville Island itself is a funky little place to explore. It’s kind of the artsy area of Vancouver with improve shows, good restaurants, and watersports options.
Guinness – Dublin, Ireland
This one haunts me a little because we never actually got inside the palace of stout (Guinness PR people, you can thank me for that one later with a lifetime supply of suds). Our group took transit to the brewery on Friday and even got a picture outside one of the gates. When we were told the wait was two hours to get inside – it was St. Patrick’s Day weekend after all – we elected to save our visit for Monday, as we had to check-in to our hostel shortly. Due to unforeseen god-awful, weather, we had to leave Ireland very early that Monday morning and the Guinness Brewery was not to be enjoyed.
Steam Whistle – Toronto, Canada
I did the tour when Ma and Pa Sip visited me while living in ‘The Big Smoke’ and returned later for free beers (sans tour) with Mrs. Sip, prior to a Toronto Blue Jays game. When you’d enter, you’d get a couple tickets for free beer samples and the generous pours were enough to have you walking wobbly by the time you left the facility, en route to the game for really expensive and lacking-in-quality drinks.
Alexander Keith’s – Halifax, Canada
No visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia would be complete without a stop at the Alexander Keith’s Brewery. Here, you are guided through the history of the beer by period-dressed guides, learning about their trademark brewing practices. Finally, you come to the really good part: beer samples and games to play while boozing. Ma and Pa Sip aren’t fans of suds, so Mrs. Sip and I were the lucky recipients of bonus brews and we left the place with a good buzz and a couple “liberated” Keith’s mugs!
Carlsberg – Copenhagen, Denmark
Our most recent brewery visit was a lot of fun, despite being exhausted from travel and sleepless night. That’s what’s awesome about your fabled Sip Advisor, he knows when to man up for the sake of liquor. The Carlsberg Brewery has a stable of Jutland horses, had a neat exhibit on bottles of beer from around the world, and tons of history on the Carlsberg legacy and brewing techniques.
Drink #205: California Root Beer
- 1 oz Kahlua
- 1 oz Galliano
- Top with half Cola and half Beer (I used GIB Lager)
- Garnish with Lemon Wedge
Later this summer, Mrs. Sip, myself and members of the Sip Alliance have a tour booked that will stop at a handful of local breweries that we’re all looking very forward to visiting. I better make my post early that day because by the time I get back home, I’ll probably be too blasted to work a computer!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4.5 Sips out of 5):
This beer cocktail is simply delicious. You get hints of Galliano and Kahlua to go along with the Cola and Beer flavours. I heavily adapted this recipe to suit my needs and I’m glad I did so!