You like to drink beer and have fun, right? So we’re assuming you’re familiar with the concept of the pub crawl. But with more than 2,500 breweries now operating in the United States – and by some counts more than 15,000 in the world – along with who knows how many beer bars, there must be more innovative methods to finding your way to tasty brews other than old-fashioned walking. Here’s a look at some alternatives.
Beer by Bus
Most cities with a respectable number of breweries are home to at least one entrepreneur who realized that imbibers would enjoy being driven to those breweries. Brew buses are a big part of the scene in craft beer-friendly places like Denver, Cleveland, Asheville, Portland (both Oregon and Maine), and San Diego. Most include stops at several breweries for tours and tastings, and in the case of Tampa, the local Brew Bus includes samples of its own branded beer, brewed for them at Cigar City Brewing.
Beer by Bicycle
There are a few adventure tour companies out there offering bicycling tours that make visits to breweries and craft beer joints a prime focus of the trips. Zephyr Adventures out of Montana schedules such tours that often take place in some of the most scenic and natural places in the world, including Yellowstone National Park. In Portland, Evan Cohen’s BeerCycling tour company schedules brewery-and-biking tours in Belgium and the Netherlands; its motto is “Getting you from pint A to pint B.”
Beer by Mobile Pub
The mobile pub offers another way to pedal between beer stops, but these pub cycles require a group to power each “pubmobile.” It’s exactly what it sounds like; a bar set up with pedals below the seats so riders can drink along the way – usually it’s BYOB, but the last “B” stands for “beer” since most don’t allow glass containers. A concept that started in Europe, it’s moved across the pond. The pedal-powered pubs generally seat 12 to 16, have guides to lead the tours, and can be found in many cities with strong craft beer scenes, as well as tourist hot spots such as Vegas.
Beer by Raft
What’s more refreshing than a cold craft beer after a day of whitewater rafting? Several rafting companies across the country – mostly out West, such as Northwest Rafting Co. in Hood River Oregon – offer multi-day rafting adventures that incorporate craft beer into the itinerary. Usually the trip partners with a particular craft brewery, and a representative will lead a beer tasting after participants hit the rapids. Tastings are often accompanied by a multi-course dinner prepared fresh at the campsite.
Beer by Boat
Based in South Florida, Bon Beer Voyage specializes in brewery tours in the U.S. and Europe, including a weeklong tour through canals and waterways of Belgium aboard a private canal cruiser. The trip includes meals aboard the boat prepared by a private chef, and tours and tastings at some of the country’s most storied breweries such as Westvleteren, La Trappe, and De Struise, as well as stops at pubs in the medieval towns of Ghent, Bruges and Antwerp.
Beer by Running
Why crawl between pubs when you can run? Though drinking brews and exercising may seem to be at odds, clubs that take formal and informal runs between pubs and breweries are incredibly popular these days. You can find running tours in both Portland, Oregon and Portland, Maine as well as Asheville, N.C. Some studies have found that moderate consumption of beer proves to be a better hydrator than water. It’s the “moderate” part that proves a problem for some, but at least the running might burn enough calories to keep the dreaded beer gut at bay.
Beer by Train
Beer festivals usually take place in venues that don’t move, but some enterprising folks organize special beer-tasting events aboard trains. Among them are the annual Rails & Ales Festival that starts aboard a 100-year-old steam engine through the Rocky Mountains of Colorado before arriving at a high-altitude meadow set up specifically for the festival and other events. Then there’s the once-a-month Sacramento Beer Train in California, which for the price of a ticket offers a souvenir tasting glass and pours of eight craft beers.
Beer by Cruise Ship
For years, the craft beer selection aboard cruise ships was nonexistent, but that’s changing. Michael’s Club aboard some Celebrity Cruises ships recently expanded its drinks menu to include a decent number of U.S. craft beers and imports. Other cruise lines offer special beer-tasting events: In New York City, the tall sailing ship Clipper City hosts Craft Beer Tasting Sails, and the seven-day California Beer Festival at Sea will take place aboard the Celebrity Century, departing Los Angeles on April 12, 2014.