Just as the craft industry has pushed boundaries and redefined the pint, a select few breweries are looking to shake up the tired old tradition of the brewery tour. The hard-drinking institutions offer more than a long walk followed by a pint. Visitors meet with experts, get hands-on experience, and try various exotic beers. Here are nine new destinations for men looking to get both educated and inebriated.
Brigadoon Brewery & Brew School
Renaissance festivals can be as boring as traditional brewery tours, but Brigadoon Brewery – located on the grounds of the Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville, Texas – proves you can kill two falcons with one gauntlet by combining beer and medieval weaponry to make both fascinating. Using equipment (copper kettle, oak mashtun, wooden paddles) and techniques dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, Brigadoon follows two historical recipes deduced from the tax records in England and Scotland hundreds of years ago. "Since recipes were important, they were not shared, so you just can't find a 1500s commercial recipe," explains brewmaster Alan Ward. Brigadoon captures everything about the process down to the hand grinding of the grain, carrying the wort and water by bucket, checking temperatures with fingertips, and using an hour glass for time.
"We serve the beer young and with low carbonation, which is naturally developed," says Ward. "We have had several Brits and Scots come in and say it reminds them of a beer they had back home."
The brewery only offers the "Behind the Scenes" tour during the festival, which runs on weekends from October 11 through November 30. However, the excess beer not sold at the fair ends up in the Bryan-College Station area during the off-season (and a year-round facility is right around the corner).
Credit: Brigadoon Brewery & Brew School