#Beer – cation!!!

Saw an article on Yahoo! this evening rating their Top 10 Beercation spots for the summer.  It truly is the season for road trips and adventures, so why not enjoy some wonderful craft brews while you are roaming around?  Here is the article:

http://travel.yahoo.com/ideas/10-best-vacation-cities-for-beer-lovers.html?page=1

If you want the cliff notes, I’ll give you a brief rundown of the Top 10, and throw in my personal experiences.  If you don’t, then chances are you’ve already stopped reading…

10. Burlington, VT
Haven’t made it to Burlington as of yet, but I hear it’s nice.  Actually, in all honesty, I lived in Brattleboro for a time, and while there I couldn’t stand the fact that I was living in Vermont.  Now, I actually enjoy the time I get to spend in the state.  I think extenuating circumstances ruined my time there, but I do have Burlington high on my list of places to visit soon.

9. Fort Collins, CO
Alright, I am now 0 for 2.  Colorado is a state I have been meaning to travel to regardless of this list.  It’s one of the four states I haven’t been to in the country, and that is just pushing my completion anxiety over the edge.  That being said, Colorado’s rich beer culture is not lost on me.  In fact, the Boulder State is number 1 with a bullet on my list of places to get to ASAP.  It also helps that I have family there that I want to visit, so this makes this trip a no-brainer.  Between Oskar Blues, Avery, New Belgium, Odell, Left Hand….oh christ, there’s too many to list.  I’m going to save this post and come back, because I suddenly have the urge to log on to kayak.com!

8. Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, MI
Not sure why Michigan gets two cities, but who am I to argue.  My Michigan football obsession meant that the last time we visited the state I drove directly to Ann Arbor to visit the Big House.  While driving through the state, we were gridlocked on a highway behind an unfortunate group of motorcycles who were in a fairly horrific accident.  This interruption was to the tune of >2 hours, and caused us to backtrack up the wrong way of an on-ramp and go a solid 3 hours out of the way to get to our campground.  Due to this detour, we had to chop our list of stops to a minimalist priority selection, and completely missed some gems like Bells and Jolly Pumpkin.

7. Charlottesville, VA
Alright, I’ve got some doubts about my beer qualifications at this point.  I mean, a Top 10 list, and if you generously give me a fielder’s choice for #8, then I am technically only 0 for 3, but it still isn’t pretty.  I love Virginia, but in all honesty I’ve only been to a few of its cities, and Charlottesville was not one of them.  I will also admit that I was ignorant to Charlottesville’s craft brewery prominence.  Fire up the car, throw on the Dave Matthews Band cds, and count me in on this trip.  Who’s coming with me???

6. Seattle, WA
FINALLY!  Making some contact to get on the board.  The wife and I lived in Seattle for 3 months, and I can honestly say that I know there is more in the beer culture that we missed.  Also, given the fact that we would move to Seattle in the blink of an eye, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see us getting back to the PacNW for a visit some time soon.  My wife and I are both Pub Club members at Pike’s Brewing (http://www.pikebrewing.com/), completing their Pub Club Challenge in a break-neck 2 month clip.  We also frequented Brouwer’s Cafe (http://brouwerscafe.blogspot.com/) in Fremont, which has one of the most extensive and rapidly rotating tap lists I have ever seen.  Hale’s Ales, Pyramid Brewing, and a slew of others made Seattle Beer Week one of the more fun brew-centric events we have enjoyed.  Great city in general, and a must-visit beer city!

5. Portland, OR
Alright, we are putting together a bit of a streak now.  We lived in Portland for 3 months, as well.  Between the PDX and Seattle, the PacNW solidifies itself and as a virtual Beervana for fans of the sudsy beverage.  Portland was truly our introduction to the beer festival, attending the nearby Fresh Hops Fest in Bend, as well as the annual Holiday Ale Fest in downtown, which people travel from great lengths to attend.  What can I say about Portland…you can literally get lost in any part of town and find a brewery before you find your way.  How bad can that be?  Add to it Portland’s dog friendliness, and this place was made for people like my wife and I.  Frequenting breweries like Lucky Lab (http://www.luckylab.com/), New Old Lompoc (http://www.newoldlompoc.com/index.html), and many of the McMennamin’s (http://www.mcmenamins.com/) locations for the occasional Terminator Stout Milkshake, we were never lacking for brews to imbibe.  More well known breweries include Hair of the Dog, HUB, and more as you start to venture outside of the PDX limits.  Honestly, you could stay a month and still not hit them all.  Portland is an eclectic, exciting, and unique city, and it is not for the weak-livered!

4. Asheville, NC
And the short-lived streak is over.  As many places in NC that I have been, Asheville has somehow eluded me.  Recently defending it’s title as Best Beer Town in the US, Asheville is a place not to be passed over.  The entire state of North Carolina has shown significant growth on the craft beer scene, with solid offerings coming forth from breweries in ever style imaginable.  On top of the beer already available in the city, big west coast breweries New Belgium and Sierra Nevada both recently announced plans to open east coast satellites, which will provide even more street cred to the Tar Heel state.  I am always looking for a reason to get back to NC, and now there are plenty!

3. Portland, ME
Ah, my back yard.  The old stomping grounds.  If Seattle and Portland, OR were hits, this one’s a homer.  Being from Maine you quickly realize that people outside of the state commonly only know of Portland, which isn’t even our capital.  As far as beer is concerned, it is far more than the capital.  Maine has completely exploded in terms of craft beer growth in the past decade, and you can absolutely go nuts within the Portland city limits, visiting Bull Jagger, Rising Tide, Allagash, Shipyard, Geary’s, Gritty’s, Sea Dog, Sebago Lake, Maine Beer Co, and I know I am missing some but you get the point.  Portland, ME keeps making serious contention in the aforementioned Best Beer Town in the US competition, and I have no doubt in my mind the title will be won in the near future.

2. San Diego, CA
Been here a few times and visited different beer locales each trip.  San Diego automatically gets extended geographically to include Escondido, and rightfully so, as you can bounce from Port/Lost Abbey (http://www.lostabbey.com/) down the road to Stone (http://www.stonebrew.com/) and get some seriously strong, solid, and world-class brews.  Back inside the city limits Ballast Point cannot be missed, and Alpine, Green Flash, and The San Diego Brewing Co should not be overlooked, either.

1. Milwaukee, WI
Finishing on a miss, I have been to Milwaukee once, and my allegiances leaned towards my Harley allegiances and brought me to the Harley Museum instead of indulging in the rich beer history available throughout the city.  Milwaukee is a historic city, and there are a plethora of beer-centric locales to visit throughout.  You can look in on the past in the skeletons of beer companies no longer with us, as well as one of the monster macros that I refuse to drink (but history is history).  There are also plenty of microbreweries worth seeking out in downtown and the outskirts.  Catch a Brewer’s game to make your Beercation complete, and soak it all in.

This list definitely had some snubs.  It’s hard for me to not see San Francisco, Boston, Philly, Anchorage, Austin, and even DC on the list.  It’s always hard to pare a list down to 10, and there are always arguments to be made.  That’s what makes these lists so much fun to read for all of us.  So, any cities you want to make an arguement for?  Or, any of these cities you want to argue against?  Everyone has a favorite, and hometown pride is never scarce in conversations such as this.  Adventurers/explorers and homers alike, all are welcome in the world of beer!  Enjoy the mid-week holiday everyone, make sure to drink REAL AMERICAN beers (no Coors, Bud, or Miller), and as always, drink educated my friends!

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