Sometimes it’s nice to go back and find out how things are created. Brewing is a process that has been around as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, and given the sheer number of brands of different beers and spirits we’re spoilt for choice. Brewery tours offer us a glimpse into the subtle alchemy behind our favourite tipples, and there are a few that really outshine the rest. Here are our top five breweries to visit.
A veritable mecca for those who are serious about their stout, the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin offers you more than your bog standard “how it’s made” tour. The tours in the Guinness Storehouse are self-guided, allowing you to look at the history of Guinness and its process at your leisure. Not only that, but there are ‘pulling experts’ on hand to show you how to pull the perfect pint (which, of course, you then get to drink). Then you move up to the Gravity Bar, which gives you a 360 degree view of Dublin while you sample more of the dark, liquid gold.
Okay, so technically Jack Daniel’s is a distillery, not a brewery. However, it’s one of the most famous brands in the world, so it counts here. Before you plan a visit with expectations of a wild weekend, bear in mind that the distillery, and the entire country that it’s in, is completely dry. That means the consumption of alcohol has been illegal since the Prohibition in the 1920s. What sets the Jack Daniel’s distillery apart from the rest is that it still uses methods and ingredients from a time gone by, such as charcoal mellowing and water from a limestone cave spring near the distillery itself.
The Tiger Brewery has gone through a bit of a renovation and unveiled its new brewery tour in June 2012. The improved tour now hosts an interactive showcase on its brewing and packaging processes housed within an 18 metre long Tiger beer bottle. You also get a chance to visit the Tiger Tavern for a tasting session, where you are offered an unlimited supply of their locally brewed tipple for the last portion of the tour.
The Heineken Experiences takes beer making into the 21 st century and combines it with a theme park like sense of spectacle. Their 4D showcase, Brew-U, shows you what it feels like to be brewed and bottled, and you can also create a personalised bottle of Heineken. Then comes the obligatory tasting session, followed by a canal ride and a free souvenir. Almost every part of the tour and museum is interactive, meaning that there is something for everyone beyond having a pint.
And so we come to Germany. Germany is to beer what England is to tea – they didn’t invent it, but they perfected it. Weihenstephan is the oldest active brewery in the world at almost a thousand years old, so you know they know their stuff. The brewery was originally a Benedictine monastery, and on the tour you step back in time to see the beer making processes of a millennium ago. Again, the tour follows with a beer tasting session and you get to take home your own historic Weihenstephan glass.
This guest post was written by Jamie Gibbs, the resident blogger and armchair explorer for cheap travel insurance comparison site, Confused.com