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Brewery Tours and Wine Tasting: Free, or at least Cheap

Martha's post on boozing for cheap reminded me of brewery tours. When I was a student at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark through the Danish International Student program (DIS), I was mostly broke and determined to have enough money for a month long trip through Europe before I headed back to the U.S. Most people in my program were in the same life of getting by on little cash. For fun and frolic, there was nothing like a Carlsburg or Tuborg Brewery tour in Copenhagen on a Friday.

I went to each brewery at least four times over the course of three months. There were so many people from my program that headed to Tuborg on a regular basis that the brewery gave us a huge party at the end of the semester. The catch was, we had to take the tour before the party. Some in my group were able to recite, word for word, the beer-making process and knew all the guides by name. For current review of Carlsburg, click here. The Tuborg Brewery bottling hall building I went to has been changed to the Experimentarium science museum.

Although there's an Anheuser-Busch brewery in Columbus, this one doesn't give tours. No free beer for me on a Friday. Of the 12 breweries in the U.S., you can see how Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch products are made on a FREE tour at five on them: Fairfield, California; St. Louis, Missouri; Ft. Collins, Colorado; Merrimack, New Hampshire; and Jacksonville, Florida. At each you can drink FREE beer. At all but the Fairfield brewery, you can also see the horse stables of the Clydesdales, the brewery's trademark.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin is a beer drinkers hot spot. There are three breweries that give tours. The Miller Brewing Company tour is FREE. I went on this slick tour the summer after I got out of the Peace Corps during my across the United States by bus sweep. I still remember the great time I had hanging out in the beer garden listening to music and visiting with my friends. Of, course, the beer garden isn't open in the winter, but the Miller Inn is. At Lakefront Brewery the tour will cost you $5, unless you go on Friday. In that case, it's $10. A fish fry is included in the price, so when you think of that, what a deal. You also get to keep the glass. This brewery is considered the most environmentally friendly in Wisconsin. The Sprecher Brewing Company tour is a chance to brush up on some beer brewing history at the Rathskeller museum before taking in the tour and the tasting. The tours cost $3 for adults and $2 for seniors. The $1 charge for the under 21 crowd is donated to charities. You get to take the souvenir glass home.

I haven't been to Sarnac Brewery, but after discovering its Web site, I thought, this is appealing. The brewery has been making the good stuff since 1888. Personally, I love the labels and we do buy the beer, even in Ohio. Spending time in Utica, NY in the Adirondacks wouldn't be a bad way to spend some time, either. Look at all there is to do in the city itself. I assume the tours are free since the Web site doesn't say otherwise. You need to call for reservations, so ask.

I've also been on the Guinness brewery Storehouse tour in Dublin, Ireland. Even though I'm not too fond of heavy beer, the tour was great and I was more than happy to down the complimentary pint at the end of it.

Where ever your traveling, check out the brewery options. Maybe, you'll find a local brewing company that offers tours and tastes. People who brew beer are passionate about it and it's catching. Also, if you're not a beer drinker and you have children along, these are kid-friendly places with soda options.

P.S. I noticed that I included wine-tasting in the title of this post, but didn't included that. Stay-tuned.

Filed under: Food and Drink, Denmark, Ireland, United States, Budget Travel

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