"How do you guys choose which breweries to visit while you're on the road?"
We ask ourselves this question and get asked this question a lot. Currently, we've been to 23 breweries while traveling the country in the last three and a half months and have had to go through this list to choose among many almost every time.
With over 7,000 operating breweries in the United States alone it's difficult to choose, so we came up with some questions to guide us that we hope are helpful to you as well.
Our list of questions:
Is it along our route?
We don't always go places just because of the beer. Often times, we choose a place to travel and then look for breweries along the route. If we're in more rural areas of the U.S. this narrows down our choices dramatically or changes our route dramatically. We'll go out of our way an hour or two if it means getting to visit a new brewery in a less frequented area.
What time do they open/close?
This is important to us because we're not usually close to the brewery and want to avoid heavy traffic during the day (driving a big RV down the interstate in 5 o'clock traffic has proved to be pretty miserable). A lot of breweries open in the late afternoon which limits where we can stop if we're traveling in the morning, so we'll plan our travel times around their hours sometimes. If we can arrive at the brewery in a new town around the time they are opening that's usually what we'll do.
Do they allow dogs?
This one is important to us because we have two dogs, Michael and Madge. It always makes for a better experience when we can take them in to the brewery or hang out on the patio with them. I'm careful stating this because it's not always true, but it seems that breweries that are dog friendly are usually more people friendly as well. We also realize that it's not always up to the brewery whether they can allow dogs in or not. No hard feelings, but we'll choose one that allows them over one that doesn't.
Do they have social media?
You can learn a lot about any company by looking at their social media. Usually you'll find photos of the tasting room, brew house, team members, customer base and last but not least the beer. Not only do you get to see photos of these things, but you get written descriptions giving insight in to the personalities behind the beer. Often times we'll choose a brewery with a solid social strategy over one with a lesser social strategy.
What do they value?
Looking at the brewery website, social channels and reviews online tell a lot about what a brewery values. It's easy to see which breweries are creating business and igniting community and which ones are trying to cash in on the beer trend right now. We like to visit breweries that value people over the beer. Breweries that value their community and create a welcoming culture are definitely our favorites!
Do they have food?
Sometimes your hungry and thirsty! A lot of the time if the brewery itself doesn't serve food they'll team up with food trucks and nearby restaurants to make sure everyone leaves with a full belly, but it's worth checking in to before arriving. Food trucks usually aren't at the brewery all day or even every day throughout the week. If we're hungry and want a good beer we'll stop by somewhere where we can get both.
Is there something else fun to do nearby?
Our country is pretty incredible and there's usually something new to try most places.
Are they a part of the Brewers Association?
The Brewers Association takes great lengths to protect and support the independent craft brewers in the United States. We want to support as many of these breweries as possible. Go here to find out more behind the purpose and benefits of the Brewers Association.
Are we allowed to stay overnight in their parking lot?
This is rare, but when it happens it's the best! Not only do we have a free place to stay, but we get to hang out much longer than if we needed to go to drive to a campsite before dark like usual.
What about you? How do you decide which brewery to visit in your home town or while your traveling?
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