As summer steadily marches into fall, there are plenty of chances to indulge your beer tooth on a craft beverage-oriented holiday.
There are over 2,000 craft breweries in America, so you’re likely to find something to tickle your fancy in any one of the United States, but for guaranteed quantity and quality, follow in the footsteps of Sasquatch and head to the Pacific Northwest. Both Portland and Seattle are major hubs of beer obsession, with loads of breweries and several special events specially tailored for beer lovers. The two cities also time their annual beer festivals for early July, so mark your calendars for 2016. Between Oregon and Washington, you’ll find the Columbia River Gorge, which has a particularly high concentration of breweries thanks to the high quality of the area’s water.
It’s surely a cardinal brewers’ sin to leave Oktoberfest off the list. The world-renowned folk festival, held annually in Munich, attracts over 6 million visitors each year. Lace up your lederhosen and celebrate authentic Bavarian heritage with overflowing steins and plenty of beer-friendly treats like pretzels, sausages, and potato dumplings. Locavores rejoice: only beer brewed within the city limits and adhering to German “purity laws” can be served as “Oktoberfest beer.” The lucky breweries that make the cut include Augustiner-Brau, Hacker-Pschorr-Brau, Lowenbrau, Paulaner, Spatenbrau, and Staatliches Hofbrau-Munchen. The carnival also includes a variety of amusement park rides and an extra nod to Germany’s 1994 reunification.
Munich’s thriving beer culture is easily rivalled by that of Dublin. Pay your respects to the great Irish tradition on a tour of the Guinness Storehouse. The trademark dry stout is one of the largest producers in the world. Once you’ve had a peek at the process behind the famous brew, pull up a stool at one of the city’s numerous pubs. If you must ask, yes, ordering an Irish car bomb is a bad idea. Instead, play a more respectful card by opting for another Irish mainstay: a red ale, like Smithwick’s. Or, do as the locals do, and down a lager or two.
Brew Ridge Trail
Looking to get off the beaten path? Central Virginia, like much of the U.S., has been experiencing a craft beverage boom in recent years. Follow the revolution from plow to pint on the Brew Ridge Trail, a concentration of major craft breweries just outside Charlottesville, Virginia. Popular local brews include Blue Mountain Brewery’s Full Nelson Pale Ale and Devils Backbone’s Vienna Lager. Nearby, you’ll also find several vineyards, including Cardinal Point Winery, which adds Cascade hops to its Chardonnay.
If Oktoberfest crowds aren’t your cup of tea, head further east and grab a cold one in the Czech Republic. This less frequented Eastern European country has a long history when it comes to brewing, dating all the way back to the Middle Ages, and holds bragging rights for inventing pilsners. You’ll find plenty of craft brews here, but lots of bigger brands that don’t skimp on quality, like Pilsner Urquell, Staropramen, and Krusovice. Taste test to your heart’s delight at Zly Casy, which keeps a whopping 40 brews on tap over three floors.