Living the Beer Life by Gregg Smith

Only twenty-five years ago few places in America offered a variety of beers. Then, slowly, things changed. With the emergence of microbreweries consumers finally had a choice, but curiously, as the local selection of beer increased, beer enthusiasts began roaming farther and farther afield for beer. It seems odd, but on closer study it makes sense. Their growing interest in great beer ignited a thirst for more.

At first, beer travel was simply a search for an adequately supplied homebrew shop, or perhaps a bar that carried more than a dozen brands. Later, as the types of beer swelled, travel too increased. Short runs to a beer store gradually expanded into trips to new breweries, and regional beer fests, then on to the large ‘national' beer festivals. It was a logical development that eventually led to the latest trend in living a full beer life - International touring.

Touring overseas can take a beer traveler anywhere, but it usually leads to the brewing centers of Belgium, Great Britain, and Germany, and getting there typically focuses on one of three approaches: the solo trip, the small group, or the professionally booked tour. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and each comes in a variety of price ranges.