It's been three years since we last visited the US. This time round we put some serious thought into planning out our trip. Three weeks sounds like quite a long time but I can assure you that it is insufficient for visiting all the breweries you are interested in. We started by roughly mapping out our route, then we wrote a long list of all the breweries we wanted to visit. As we worked out the distances we'd need to travel each day the list of breweries got whittled down to the bare essentials of what we could realistically manage. We were supposed to be on holiday after all and driving for six or eight hours a day would make it seem more like work than rest.
|The Life of a Beer Mule*, Santa Rosa|
To describe this trip as well-structured would be an understatement. Over the space of 21 days we visited 30 breweries/brew pubs and 13 bars. We flew into NYC late on Friday 16th October, spent one day in Brooklyn then began the drive up to Maine early on the Sunday morning. We spent three nights in Maine (this was the chilled out, private jacuzzi part of our trip) before flying to LA. We then drove 1580 miles from LA to Portland over the course of 10 days. We caught our breath there for four nights before catching the Amtrak to Seattle for a single night before flying home.
This trip wasn't only about drinking delicious beer, it was also an educational visit. We wanted to ask nosy questions and rummage around behind the scenes at US breweries because we are fascinated by the differences between the US and UK beer scenes right now. To this end we had already arranged to meet with brewmasters and brewery founders long before we ever got on a plane. Some of this we did directly, in other cases friends made connections for us - brewers are friendly people and we were treated to fantastic hospitality everywhere we went. But we weren't only planning to take from the US, we wanted to give too. So we flew out with suitcases full of British and European beer to gift to our hosts.
Needless to say, the trip gave us a great deal to think about. But before we rush toward the conclusions we need to show you the methods and the results first. So we'll start by explaining where we went, what we did there and what we thought about it. By the time we've done that we'll have finished processing our overall thoughts and will be ready to share them with you.
We had friends to visit in Brooklyn so our holiday started there. These are the people who inspired us to homebrew in the first place so we knew we could rely on them to show us a good time...
*Every single beer we carried to the US was safely delivered. Every single beer we brought home to the UK arrived safely. Thanks the the patented Crema packaging system.