A few years ago I had this great idea to create a pilgrimage to Belgium where we would visit the Trappist monasteries and try out their beers. I felt the idea was brilliant and it turns out is was as people had started doing it years ago! Why? Because small and independent American craft brewers contributed $67.8 billion to the U.S. economy in 2016! (Brewers Association, 2018). Combine that with American’s love to travel, you have a can’t miss tourism product!
This past August I had the opportunity to experience a small version of a craft beer tour when for my friend Kacee’s Bachelorette party we took a Beer and Bike tour through Fort Collins. We each had our own cruiser bikes, complete with bells and baskets, and drove through the rain with a guide to visit three of Fort Collins smaller craft breweries. We are still talking about how much fun we had to this day and looking forward to our next opportunity to go! Turns out Bob, who runs Beer and Bikes, does these tours all over the United States and parts of Europe and Asia.(https://www.beerandbiketours.com). Also turns out he is not the only one! Today I read about a company who is based out of Alaska that runs bike tours, van tours, and even Hops on the Rail, which you guessed correctly is on a train. (https://pedalers.travel).
Why is this making such a mark on the adventure tourism scene right now? I am not entirely sure, but I have a few thoughts.
- Biking across town, or across country is a great way to actively see the world, while leaving a minimal impact on the environment. Most people can do it, and there is a great feeling of accomplishment having peddled those miles. (Plus you get to work off the calories from the first brewery before you get to the second one!)
- Breweries are a great way to experience the local culture. Think about the small craft breweries you have visited. They are generally run by locals, trying to use local ingredients and generally started out brewing beer with some friends (who probably all own the brewery). They want to share their love of brewing with you, and often their communities as well. When I travel anymore I try to find a local brewery to eat in at least once, not just to enjoy their beer, but to get a feel for who they are as a community. Plus the staff are generally the best information booths out there!
- These trips appeal to a niche market, and those are the people who like the same thing you do, Craft Beer! When you sign up, you already have something in common with the 10 other strangers you will be spending the next 10 days with. If you choose a biking trip, chances are you now have 2 things in common! It creates a great environment to build some life-long relationships and adventure buddies with.
- They are unique experiences that tend to be in places you want to go, but off the beaten path. Sure you still get to see the sights of Belgium, but you get a more intimate look on a bike then a tour bus. You can get off and on as you please and your guides are local, who not only know the best places to eat/drink in town, but probably know the owners as well.
- They are great for solo travellers! As you are signing up for a tour, you know there will be other people with you! Due to the small size of the tours, you will not feel like you are on the outside looking in, but a part of the family. If your guide is good, which no doubt they will be, they will create a welcoming environment for everyone and cater the experience to the group, not just individuals.
As the industry continues to grow, and we continue to become more active, more and more tours like these are going to be created. When you travel think about searching for these unique experience. There are already culinary tours, wine tours, knitting tours, you name it! The point is do not just settle for the ordinary experience, when you can “tap” into an extraordinary experience instead.
Brewers Association. (2018). Economic impact. Retrieved from https://www.brewersassociation.org/statistics/economic-impact-data/