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Breweries Worth Traveling For

The driving's so much easier when your Point B is a pint

Sierra Nevada's North Carolina brewery offers a three-hour Beer Geek tour. (Sierra Nevada Brewing)

The driving's so much easier when your Point B is a pint

Brewery road trip might sound like an oxymoron because of the whole "drinking and driving" thing, but listen, there are breweries that are worth driving great distances to reach. Some have mind-blowing tours; others produce beer so rare you can only find it at the mother ship; still others are in a particularly beautiful part of the world. We found five, each offering a singular experience worthy of an epic road trip. Just bring a DD, er, friend.

Rogue Ales and Farms, Newport, Oregon

 

Just another day at the office. #growbeer #honeykolsch #roguefarms

A photo posted by Rogue Ales & Spirits (@rogueales) on

Rogue grows their own barley, hops, and just about everything else that might go into one of their beers at 3,800 Rogue Farms in Oregon's Tygh Valley. You can tour the hop yard and rye fields along with a handful of orchards, and see exactly how hops are grown and processed. And don't worry—there's a tasting room at the farm, as well as a bed and breakfast.


The Alchemist: Waterbury, Vermont

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An artist's rendering of The Alchemist's new facility. (Courtesy of The Alchemist)

The Alchemist's double IPA, Heady Topper, just might be the greatest beer in the world (beer geeks on the internet seem to think it's in the running). Part of the allure is that it's so limited, essentially only available near Waterbury, Vermont, where they brew 180 barrels a week. This is the beer you travel across the country to drink. You can't take a tour right now (heavy traffic forced The Alchemist to look for more accommodating digs), but the brewery's website lists up-to-date locations where you can find Heady Topper around town.


Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens: Escondido, California

 

 

Turning into a gargoyle at Stone Brewery

A photo posted by Spencer James Recor (@5pencerr) on

 

Stone can pretty much do no wrong when it comes to beer (if you've tried their Bourbon Barrel Aged Arrogant Bastard, you'll know what we mean) but you go to the Escondido brewpub for the beer garden. Actually, "beer garden" is a misnomer—picture an acre of boulder gardens, koi ponds, fruit trees and sprawling grass. It's like a Zen paradise with beer. The $3 tour ain't bad either—you'll get to taste malted barley and raw hops before meandering through the working beer tanks.

 


Sierra Nevada Brewing, Mills River, N.C.

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(Sierra Nevada Brewing)

Dig deep into Sierra Nevada's brewing process at their new production brewery in Mills River, North Carolina, with the three-hour Beer Geek Tour ($30). It's like a crash course in brewing beer. You'll also get to sample beers straight from the tanks, and cap off the day with a visit to the 20-barrel pilot system filled with experemental brews—it's where things get weird.


Aspen Brewing Company, Aspen, Colorado

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(Dustin Hall/Brewtography Project)

Yeah, the beer here is good (go for the easy-drinking This Season's Blonde) and sure, you can take a traditional tour of the brewery, but Aspen Brewing Company is on this list because of its location. It's in Aspen. Which means you'll have powder stashes galore during the winter, but also mountain biking on nearby Snowmass (try the ridgeline Snowmass Rim Trail) and one of the state's greatest road climbs up Independence Pass (or worst, if you bonk halfway up). We say pedal first, then do the brewery tour.

Filed To: Wine, Beer, and Spirits / Road Trips
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

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(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.

Plaza2Peak

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(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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