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Tips for Tipsy Travel

Fred Crudder - Director of Marketing for Heavy Seas Beer

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In the beer business since 1993, Fred Crudder has worked for distributors, on- and off-premise retailers, and two renown breweries. His extensive travels always center around beer. Fred is currently the Director of Marketing for Heavy Seas Beer in Baltimore, MD.

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Beer tourism. It’s a big deal. These days you can find endless articles on fabulous beer destinations that many people only dream seeing firsthand. You can also find advice on all sorts of travel: when to go, where to stay, what to wear, etc. But nobody is giving the beer lovers any pointers on how to make the most of their beercations. Until now.
 

Bucket List

OK, sure, we all have those places to see and beers to drink that we absolutely can’t miss before we die. By all means, go there and drink them. Don’t let me get in the way of your dreams, chief. But if you don’t mind one little piece of advice, it’s this: maybe don’t go there on a day when every other beer lover within 200 miles will be there. I won’t name names, but there’s a brewery in Northern California that is revered, and for good reason. Their beers make life worth living. But stop into their pub/brewery on a Saturday afternoon in the peak of tourist season, and see how you like that. Not much I bet. Guess what? It’s crowded. Want to chat with the staff about their amazing beers? Fat chance. Out of the way, pal, everybody else needs a beer now.

But if you stopped in on a weekday, I bet you would not only find the experience you’re looking for, but a bar staff that is happy to geek out with you. Maybe use that Saturday on your trip to find someplace more out of the way. Get up early. Go on an adventure. Let the rest of the world cram into that other place. Life’s too short to wait all damn day for a beer, no matter how amazing it is.

 

Break The Mold

So you have a list of places to hit in the town you’re headed. That’s good. But you took that list from Beer Nerd Daily’s “Places You Can’t Miss Or You Suck At Loving Beer 2016”. That’s bad. Why? All you are going to get is the same experience everyone else gets in that same town. That is like only listening to a band’s greatest hits. Everybody has been there and done that. Give these towns some credit. Go off the tourist map a little. Peel back the layers. I guarantee there’s more to see than what everyone else has already seen.

Need a good way to find some of those lesser known spots? Ask the bartenders. They know. Not the hotel bartenders, the beer bar bartenders. You won’t need to hit more than one or two on the Beer Nerd Daily list before a friendly, beer loving bartender will tell you where they like to go. Then go there. They’re professional beer drinkers. Trust them.
 

Pick Your Spots

I wholeheartedly endorse using public transportation whenever possible when visiting primo drinking spots. However, not all of those spots are readily accessible by train or bus. Thankfully many cities now have brewery tour car services, where you and your group can get in a large SUV or van with other like-minded folks (new friends!), and safely go from brewery to brewery, and then back the rendezvous point, where you hotel is a short walk or Uber away.

But what about those can’t-miss places where none of these options are available, and you absolutely have to drive? Somebody in your group has to be responsible, and unfortunately, sometimes that person is you. Look ahead at your itinerary, pick where you can best contribute the sobriety to drive, and that day just sample responsibly. But the next day, make your damn friend do it so you can put away some serious beer.

My point is that if somebody has to take one for the team, spread the responsibility out evenly, and pick your spot where being responsible will hurt the least. I learned that the hard way. On a beer trip years ago, I got stuck with the driving duties on a day when we visited one of the “holiest” sites of San Diego County beer geekery. I had to be good. My friends did not. They saw this coming. They outsmarted me. While I sipped and sniffed, they polished off enough insane beer to see and speak to God. That was a long drive back to the hotel. For me. Never again!

 

Pace Yourself (I Know...Boooo!)

Trust me on this one, and you’ll thank me for it later. Start early. Finish late. Get the absolute most out of your beercations. But be smart. Starting early and finishing late can only be accomplished through skillful management of not just ABV levels and periodic feedings, but time intervals as well. Put a lot of stops on your list. The more often you get up and move, you’ll not only be fresh for another beer after a little travel time, will you will wind up seeing more of what you came to see.

And food. Put exciting food stops on your itinerary. Any good beer town is sure to have good grub, so plan some that you are really looking forward to eating. That way you should be able to maintain that all-important base for the entire day. It is also not a bad idea to eat smaller meals more often than at the standard meal times. All day beer drinking plus big evening meal equals one tired beer drinker. You came here to do one job, and that job was to drink a lot of beer. Don’t let a giant pizza get in the way of your dreams.
 

“The White Zone Is For Loading & Unloading Only”

If you’re going to tackle that bucket list, chances are good you’re going to need to get on some planes. If you have not investigated the “multi-city” option when booking flights. I have found that flying into one city and out of another is roughly the same price as a round trip to one of those destinations. I have flown into Sacramento and out of San Francisco just as affordably as a round trip to SFO. Same story into Seattle and out of Portland. You can cover a lot of ground without wasting a lot of time going back to where you started. Check it out. You might be surprised what you will find.

Naturally you are going to bring some beer home with you. Beer in your checked bag is a cinch, if you have room. I suggest leaving town with a relatively empty carry-on bag, and check a (mostly) full suitcase. As you go along on your journey, picking up a bottle here and there, transfer things out of the suitcase and into the carry-on. By the end of the trip you’ll have two full bags, and the one you check is going to be a whole lot heavier than when you left. Packing beer safely is not hard either. Just don’t give them any chance to move around, and wrap them up in your dirty laundry. Not your socks and underwear. That’s nasty. Shirts and pants will work just fine. If the beers can’t clink into each other--and if they do, they’re cushioned by your clothes--all of those treasures will make it home safely.

 

Respect the Hangover

My last piece of air travel advice is one that I learned the hard way. Repeatedly. Don’t fly hungover. My god is that awful. There is no faster way to ruin a top-notch beer trip than a grueling flight home with a big hangover. If you are going to take one night to dial it back, make it the last night. I strongly recommend that you do not plan your last night as the Big Blow-Out. Sounds like a good idea at the time, but wow ... air travel kind of bites as it is. Being hungover just makes it worse. A hangover needs rest and lots of fluids. Good luck getting either on a plane. Get ready for a 4-oz cup of water and a screaming baby for three hours. Want a beer to take the edge off that hangover? Yum, kinda cold domestic beer! (Yes, they advertise decent beer on some flights, but I strike out more often than not on that, so don’t bank on it.)

 

Bon Voyage!

All this talk of beer travel has me itching for a trip. Time to round up the usual suspects and see who’s up for prowling around some pubs and breweries in a new locale. That just might be your town, who knows? Maybe ask the bartender at your local spot if a bunch of out-of-towners just rolled through, asking where they should head next. Might have been me. Cheers.  

 

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