Whether you prefer whiskey, cider or beer, there has never been a better time to raise your glass to some of the world’s best brewery tours where you can enjoy beer tasting and a whole lot more.
Laphroaig, Isle of Islay, Scotland
Aficionados will appreciate the 4 hour Water to Whiskey tour which requires a pair of wellies and someone to drive you home. Start with a picnic lunch and a dram at the Laphroaig water source then cut some peat by hand. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with another dram) before returning to the distillery to turn the malt and stoke the fire. More whiskey awaits at the warehouse where you’ll taste from a selection of casks before bottling your favourite to take home. If you’re short on time (or money), there is a £3 Distillery Dash which lasts around 15 minutes.
Highlight: Delicious drams and a sense of history.
Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm, Cornwall, England
‘Cyder’ is the traditional Cornish spelling and the tours of the press house at this pretty farm are filled with interesting historical facts. Farmhouse scrumpy cyder was originally produced to pay casual farm labourers so competition amongst the farmers was fierce. The farm with the best scrumpy got the best workers. Check out the evolution of the press from the 500 year old single screw to the twin screwed geared press of the late Victorian era then sample an impressive range of traditional cyders at the on-site store. The tour at Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm is a great option for those travelling with kids as it starts with a trailer ride through the orchards and there’s plenty of fun to be had on the farm.
Highlight: Charming rural tour with something for everyone.
Stone Brewing Co., Escondido, USA
Stone Brewing Co. is the 11th largest craft brewery in the United States and has been named “All-Time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine – twice! Tours of this Californian brewery are free but you’ll need to arrive early as tickets are only available at the door (if you miss out it’s worth waiting around for no-shows). Don’t miss the free sample of Arrogant Bastard Ale which claims to have “openly challenged the tyrannical overlords who were brazenly attempting to keep Americans chained in the shackles of poor taste.”
Highlight: Free beer!
Speight’s Brewery, Dunedin, New Zealand
You’ll get to touch, taste, smell and sample the end product on this entertaining tour which comes packed with Kiwi humour thanks to the laconic guides, most of whom have been making beer at the Speight’s Brewery for years. At the end of the tour you’ll learn how to hand-pull a pour then get half an hour to practice your technique and enjoy the results of your hard work.
Highlight: Learning how to pour the perfect pint.
GUINNESS STOREHOUSE, Dublin, Ireland
Start by viewing the 9000 year old lease at the bottom of the world’s largest pint glass then head upstairs to explore 7 floors of GUINNESS-related goodness. This self-guided tour, which is billed as Ireland’s number one tourist attraction, ends in the GRAVITY bar. Here is where you can enjoy your complimentary pint of GUINNESS with a stunning 360 degree view of Dublin and its surrounds. Book your tour of the GUINNESS STOREHOUSE on-line to save money and skip the queues.
Highlight: The sky high GRAVITY bar – literally.
Heineken Experience, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Spread over four levels, the Heineken Experience is a self-guided high-tech tour filled with interactive hands-on activities. Stir the hops, make your own commercial, learn how to pour the perfect beer and finish the tour with a free canal boat ride. There’s even a multimedia exhibit where adventurous types can experience what it’s like to be a beer (think shaken up, sprayed with water and subjected to heat). Solo travellers will appreciate the Heineken Experience Meeting Point, a cool Facebook app which introduces you to other people who are doing the tour on the same day as you. Or you can just turn up. If you don’t like booking things in advance, this tour’s the one for you.
Highlight: Creating a bottle of beer with your name on it.
Cascade Brewery, Hobart, Australia
Slip on a neon yellow high-viz vest and walk the floor of this historic building which is the oldest continuously operating brewery in Australia. Tours of the Cascade Brewery take about an hour and are the real deal with lots of stair climbing and walking along metal gantries thoughout the factory. Allow some time to take photos of the beautiful stone brewhouse. Non-drinkers will appreciate the delicious range of old-style brewed soft drinks available for tasting at the end of the tour in addition to the usual beer.
Highlight: Photographic opportunities abound.
Erdinger Brewery, Bavaria, Germany
Officially this tour goes for 3 hours but in reality it only takes about 60 minutes. Disappointed? Don’t be. The remaining 2 hours are dedicated to serious sampling. After a walk through the Erdinger Brewery to watch the master brewers in action, visitors are encouraged to enjoy as many traditional Bavarian sausages, giant pretzels and glasses of famous wheat beer as they can handle. If you’ve got a flight to catch, do the tour then stay overnight in Erding (this pretty Munich satellite city is less than 30 minutes from the airport).
Highlight: Lots and lots of Bavarian beer.
Disclosure: The writer doesn’t drink beer but she has done a lot of brewery tours over the years.