Over the last decade, beer has become more than just the cheap, fizzy drink synonymous with college and dive bars — it’s been elevated to a crafted creation with elegance, class and a huge following. It’s also a beverage people seek out while on vacation around the globe. If beer is something you can’t get enough of, consider planning a whole trip around the drink, starting with these three brew-centric destinations.
Colorado has so many craft breweries, more than 300 in fact, that an impromptu visit to the state for a beer-focused getaway could be overwhelming. Should you be up to the task, your best bet would be starting in Denver, where a significant number of these alehouses call home. This makes the Mile-High City a shoo-in for anyone looking to sample an IPA, saison, stout or other brews.
Some noteworthy stops include Denver Beer Co., Great Divide Brewing Co. and Epic Brewing Company. And yes, Coors is in nearby Golden as well — go tour its massive operations and then visit the quainter quarters at Mountain Toad Brewing for a Butternut Brown Ale.
If you’re looking for more of a one-stop shop, head to Euclid Hall for bites (like bruléed bone marrow and housemade sausage) and the restaurant’s long list of Colorado-made pours.
Hops & Pie also offers a superb beer lineup. While there, order a pizza and the best Italian sandwich in the city, both the crust and bread are made with IPA-enhanced dough.
After all those hops, consider checking into downtown Denver’s Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Brown Palace Hotel. Not only will you be resting your head in the city’s most historical property, but it even has its own beer.
In honor of the property’s 125th anniversary, Strange Craft Beer Company created The Brown Palace Golden Age, a selection made with artisan water from The Brown Palace’s own well and a touch of honey from the property’s rooftop beehives that’s been aged for four months in whiskey barrels. Try it on tap at the Denver hotel’s restaurants or in the Ship Tavern, a dark and cozy bar oozing tall tales and slick deals made over a cold one.
You can’t plan a globetrotting beer adventure without stopping in Germany — you can go just about anywhere in the country and be inundated with lore surrounding the fizzy drink. Still, a great place to anchor yourself for a trip like this is none other than Munich, home of the great beer hall, Oktoberfest and famous breweries such as Paulaner and Spaten.
For a taste of the city’s craft beer scene, Crew Republic has a fantastic roster of housemade brews.
Then, if you’re looking for a classic beerhall, make sure to visit the vast Hofbrauhaus, a popular spot that’s maintained Bavarian tavern culture since the turn of the 20th century. From the lively biergarten in the center courtyard to the stunning schwemme, an area that used to host brewing operations and now seats around 1,300 drinkers under the decorated vaulted ceiling, there’s lots to ponder here. Before leaving, check out the ancient beer mug safes, which have housed regulars’ glasses for decades.
While in Munich, stay at the Four-Star Hotel Bayerischer Hof, an elegant property exuding old European luxury and charm. Book a detoxing massage between beer journeys at the Blue Spa before getting right back on your tasty trek at Blue Spa Lounge & Winter Garden, the facility’s bright eatery which, of course, has a few brews on its menu.
Or try Mandarin Oriental, Munich. Not only is the sophisticated hotel right around the corner from the famed Hofbrauhaus, it converted its Bar 31 into a cozy-chic chalet winter pop-up (through Jan. 15) complete with fur-lined seats, rustic wooden tables and icicles dangling from the ceiling.
Pair your beer with dishes like pretzel dumpling carpaccio with wild herbs and radish vinaigrette and comforting German desserts like kaiserschmarrn, a cut-up pancake with plum and apple.
Fine beer may not be the first thing that pops to mind with when you think about the Windy City, but over the past few years, Chicago has had a brewery boom. In 2014, there were about 100 craft breweries in Illinois. Compare that to nearly 200 found there now, many of which call the vibrant metropolis home.
Start at Revolution Brewing and sample the venue’s vast profile of IPAs, porters and Chicago-style pilsners.
For lunch or dinner, head to Forbidden Root, a popular brewery/restaurant. Order a glass of sparkling rosé ale to sip as you nibble the wild mushroom pot pie with porcini caramel and vermouth raisins, or go for a pint of Frame & Canvas IPA to pair with the malted lamb ribs.
You also can’t go on a beer tour of Chicago without visiting Goose Island Beer Co., one the country’s brewing greats and a Windy City original since 1988.
Once it comes time to sleep off your ale-inspired adventure, make sure it’s somewhere like Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, a Five-Star stunner sitting less than 15 minutes from Goose Island’s Fulton Street tap room. While you’re there, check out Allium for a good meal and great sips from local haunts such as Half Acre Beer Company and Off Color Brewing.