For as long as I can remember I've been a beer drinker. Starting with stolen sips from my mother's Miller Lite, through a five-year tenure working on and off from college at a brewhouse, through all the disgusting, all-night bouts with Natty Lite and the likes - beer has been a true friend to me, as well as a mortal enemy in the more egregious of circumstances.
In my money-saving for the big trip, I've cut back on a whole host of items that might usually be a reasonable part of my life, but have instead been cast aside for the sake of saving cash - big things like a new laptop and new glasses, or little things like Red Bull every morning. The one exception to this rule which I will never abandon is my beer. I buy my beer in town here in Conshohocken, at A. Piermani & Son, where there is always a fair selection of domestic microbrews from as near as Victory in Downingtown, to as far as Stone Brewing Company out in San Marcos, Ca. When I buy my beer I do so not with cost in mind, and buy whatever I decide looks best on that particular day.
But as is the case with most consumable products, beer becomes less fresh as it travels further away from its birthplace. God knows I've never had so delicious a potato chip as the one I ate straight off the line during a Herr's factory tour when I was a kid. So with this in mind, we'll be making an effort to visit a handful of breweries, both micro and macro, so that we might taste the beers of America at the finest and freshest.
This goal will be slightly impeded by the fact that most breweries only conduct tours on one or two days out of the week, and only for a few hours on those particular days. But on the upside, many brew tours come with free admission, and I can't possibly imagine a brew tour that didn't culminate in the tasting of at least one beer. I would throw my hat down on the ground (assuming I was wearing a hat) and stomp out as theatrically as possible if someone gave a brew tour and no brew.
So look forward to some heavy, hands-on research in the field of American brewing. It should be nothing short of delicious. And, naturally, no drinking and driving - we can't afford it.
(From top) Photo courtesy samueladams.com; photo courtesy stoneworldbistro.com; photo courtesy greatdivide.com.