Essential Brewery Tour Preparation

A brewery tour is the best way to go behind the tanks and explore where the “beer magic” happens. You have completed the research and purchased your golden ticket for the proverbial sudsy ride…but your work is not done. What’s next? Will I be judged for the type of beer I drink? Are there any customary protocols in the brewery and taproom? Are there dim-witted questions to ask a brewer about their beer? Should I factor in extra cash for that local brewery swag that cannot be found anywhere else? Whew…settle down…I need you to come up for some air (or beer) and not be overwhelmed…this is a brewery tour after all. You are about to experience a bit of local “beer magic”…..mobile style. All you need is a bit of brewery tour preparation. As a seasoned operator with Austin Brewery Tours, I continue to gain insight into the world of craft beer every time I visit a brewery by adhering to a few established “exploring beer magic” customs. The brewery tour is not just about hopping on a van and having a designated driver, but a means for you to expand your craft beer knowledge.

What You Need To Know

  • Beer Geek Status: Beginner
  • P’s & Q’s: Customary Etiquette
  • Engagement: Ask Questions
  • Support The Cause: Shop Local

Beer Geek Status: Beginner

brewery tour preparation
Real Ale Brewing Flight: Photo Courtesy of Austin Brewery Tours Instagram

BEGINNERS ARE WELCOME! You will not be judged by the stature of your gateway beer. We all come from a background of quantity over quality beers. KNOW THYSELF! You should come in with an open mind and expand your beer palate. Don’t be alarmed by the different beer styles offered. Let the tasting room staff know what you drink so they can guide you to a new tasting experience. “I love people that don’t know what type of beer they like and enjoy being able to witness people try different beers” points out J.T. of St. Elmo Brewing Company. How does J.T. captain the ship through the Beer Style Sea for you? By keeping it simple and leading with the elusive questions of what do you like/what do you not like? Afterwards, he will “present three options and you pick one of those three..makes it real quick and easy.”

P’s & Q’s: Customary Etiquette

brewery tour preparation
Proper Glassware: Photo Courtesy of Austin Brewery Tours Instagram

BE ON YOUR BEST BEHAVIOR! Mom was right when she said this! Be considerate to the other patrons in the tasting room (not drinking room) and reduce the “I Am Embarrassed For You” glares because you are NOT at a backyard party. You are on the brewery tour to partake in local beer with the local people. ACKNOWLEDGMENT! Be cognizant of the lines when you walk into a taproom, have an understanding of what your bartender is experiencing and what they need to operate, explains J.T. of St. Elmo Brewing Company. When the taproom is bustling, J.T. works to find the balance where he can “properly expedite the service in a quick fashion and also be able to talk to the people about the beer.” QUALITY ASSURANCE! When you tour the brewhouse, refrain from touching anything (when taking photos,etc) because cleanliness is a leading concern of the brewer.

Engagement: Ask Questions

brewery tour preparation
Between The Tanks: Photo Courtesy of Austin Brewery Tours Instagram

THERE ARE NO DUMB QUESTIONS. You are on a brewery tour to educate yourself about the processes and inspiration of the breweries. The passion of craft beer is contagious and the staff of the brewery wants to share their knowledge with you. This can include questions about locally sourced ingredients, sustainable brewing practices, community involvement, favorite beer not made in their brewery or how they became a brewer. These examples are just a taster of what you can ask….Curiosity did not kill the cat…Curiosity bought the cat a beer and they sat down for a long conversation! BUILD YOUR STREET CRED! I want you leaving the brewery with more knowledge than when you went in. It would be pretty cool to share a “behind the scenes” story with your friends while drinking a new beer discovered on the brewery tour.

Support The Cause: Shop Local

brewery tour preparation
Bottles To Go: Photo Courtesy of Austin Brewery Tours Instagram

SUPPORT THE LOCAL CRAFT BREWERY AND BUY LOCAL! Go beyond the beer on your tour and foster the local craft beer entrepreneur by purchasing the brewery swag. You don’t need to “make it rain” in the store, but you are creating memories of the brewery tour with the swag you buy. For example, later on down the road when you put on that brewery t-shirt…you are automatically transported back to your sudsy travels….discovering the “beer magic” of another town. So bring some extra “walking around” money to purchase bottles to go (if available), t-shirts, glassware, hats, socks, keychains, bandanas, coozies and stickers. Sorry if I did not mention all of the swag working hard for the brewery, but you are all important to the “swag game” and your promotional work is greatly appreciated…(insert golf clap here).    

Essential Brewery Tour Preparation: Conclusion

brewery tour preparation
Tim Bullock of St Elmo Brewing explaining the process.

KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE! What did you think of the article? Do you feel you are more prepared for your next brewery tour? These prompts can be utilized each time you are exploring the “beer magic” of a new brewery or taproom. A brewery tour is just one element of the craft beer journey and I aim to make your next tour a great experience with these brewery tour preparation tips. Once again, I would like to give a gracious thank you to all the craft breweries who make this the best industry to work in. Extra special thanks to J.T. for your insight. Everyone keep making that delectable beer and we will keep sharing your inspirational stories. I would love to hear your pre-tour suggestions in the comments below and please share this article with your friends so we can keep that ‘beer magic” alive. Cheers!

Essential Brewery Tour Preparation contributed by James Dean

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