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.
KettleHouse Brewing Company
For two decades, Missoula, Montana's KettleHouse Brewing ran traditional tours. Then brewmaster Al Pils decided he didn't want to be like everyone else. "We were trying to find a way to get people turned on to what we were doing here," he says. So he created the perennial Beer Kollege, a month-long program beginning in January that includes an in-depth tour, guided tasting, "homework" (purchasing a KettleHouse beer at a local establishment), and an off-campus graduation party complete with a jam band. "It's kind of kitschy, kind of cheesy, but people get a kick out of it," Pils says. Now in its third year, the program offers its graduates the chance to advance to a masters class with blind tastings designed to sharpen the palate, and a "Ph.D. level" at which they're instructed on how to build a firkin keg. The program is designed for Missoula’s locals, but visitors can knock out the tour, tasting and homework on a two-day visit.
"It's sort of like Bavaria up here," says Piles of the state with the most breweries per capita. "We have all the major ingredients to make beer that are grown up in this region."
Price: Free. (Not including the cost of a brew at a local bar, aka the “homework.”)
Credit: KettleHouse Brewing Company