Take a summer brew-cation

Posted on May 17, 2011 by Mary Ellen Brewington

As temperatures warm, we’re starting to think about sunny weekend getaways and fun summer road trips. But, sometimes it’s hard to figure out a fresh vacation plan that won’t break the bank or be a bore.

Did you know there are many breweries around our region that are less than a day’s drive away? From East Tennessee to down in the Louisiana Bayou, there are several terrific breweries that give tours of their facilities so you can get a firsthand glimpse – and maybe a taste – of the brewing process. Whether you’re taking a daytrip or skipping town for a week, a brewery tour is must-do for your vacation itinerary this summer.

On Tap is here to give you the lowdown on getting out of town and learning more about how your favorite beers are made:

  • Depot Street Brewing , Jonesborough, Tenn. – Located in Tennessee’s oldest town and just a two-hour drive from Knoxville, Depot Street gladly opens its doors to eager beer lovers; just call ahead to let them know you’re on your way. Depot Street is a craft brewery that specializes in creating unique beers using ingredients from all over the world. While you’re there, be sure check out how they’re going “green” to preserve the planet.
  • Highland Brewing Company, Asheville, N.C. – Just a quick drive over the Smoky Mountains from Tennessee, Highland Brewing Company offers free tours Monday-Saturday at 4 p.m. Highland is known for producing a variety of ales, so whether you want to try something new or you already know you’re a fan, head on over to Highland for an interesting and fun afternoon. If you’ve got some time to stick around after your tour, visit the Tasting Room on Friday and Saturday nights for live music and free food.
  • Abita Brewing Company, New Orleans, La. – Head down into the Deep South for a unique experience at the Abita Brewery, one of the oldest craft breweries in the country. From the raspberry-infused wheat beer, Purple Haze, to the variety of seasonal brews available year-round, you’ll leave New Orleans a master of all things Abita. Free tours are available Monday-Saturday. If you’re looking for even more fun, check the company’s website before you plan your trip so you can join one of their monthly pub crawls.
  • Miller Visitor Center, Milwaukee, Wis. – Take a look into the inner workings of America’s beer industry giant, MillerCoors, at one of the world’s largest breweries. Free guided walking tours are available daily and take visitors through the history of the Miller Company from 1855 to the present. The tour’s last stop is the recently renovated Miller Caves, where fresh batches of Miller were kept cool underground before distribution in the 19th and 20th centuries. After your tour, kick back in the beer garden for some ice-cold refreshment and visit the Miller Inn to sample their best brews.

Wherever your travels may take you this summer, take some time to visit a local brewery for a fun, unique and memorable vacation.

Which breweries have you visited? Tell us about which brewery tours we need to add to our summer “to do” list.

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