Best Brewery Tours

TripAdvisor releases their version of top ten brewery tours released a list of their top ten brewery tours. Not exactly what I would consider the top ten, at least they included some craft breweries.

Number one: Anheuser Busch Brewery in Saint Louis. Huh? I guess they consider bigger is better.

But wait….all is not lost. Other than Coors, the balance of the top ten are craft. See the list here.


  1. gitchegumee says

    Admin, don’t want to be intentionally contrary, but have you ever taken the tour at St. Louis? I had a great tour there. “at least they included some craft breweries.” Yeah, 80% of the list! That’s not enough representation? Any list of this sort is sure to attract scorn. Obviously the folks at Tripadvisor haven’t been to August Schell in New Ulm, MN. IMHO, maybe the most beautiful brewery in the US. Why is there such a slight against brewers who are big on this site? This is PROBREWER.COM, not CRAFTBREWER.COM. Judging by many of the remedial questions on this board, many craft brewers are not pro’s. Let’s welcome the big brewers to this site, most of whom are truly professional and arguably contribute more to brewing science than the small ones.

  2. NinkasiSwain says

    I agree wholeheartedly with Phillip that there’s a lot to be shared in both directions. There is definitely some great science and some great quality control coming from the Big Guys … among countless other things (marketing, distribution, etc., etc., etc.) that we can all learn from, regardless of whether we need it now, later, or never. And vice-versa as well: getting involved at the customer level, adapting to user tastes and local demand, etc., etc., etc. I don’t need to break it down into individual bullet points to know that Learning Stuff can be good, and that – despite trying – I’ll never know it all. So why exclude an important portion of the industry when there’s (always) so much to mutually learn? That’s why any of us have chosen to brew and to keep learning using ProBrewer. Not that the awesome pay isn’t enough…

    Each person comes from where they come from, and is at the point they are currently at with their concept of how Big Beer and Craft Beer fit together … admins included. That’s okay. But I do my best to not forget the path that led me to where I am today. And that includes the sips of PBR my Pop allowed me when he was watching football or mowing the lawn; the smell of fresh-cut grass to me will remain inextricably linked to the malty first spray of pull-tab beer. It all figures in to making more beer-drinkers, beer-lovers, and beer-brewers. And, maybe, as an admin it might be better to leave the user-base-changing opinions to the community. Don’t get me wrong; it’s your site. And, ultimately, your choice. And maybe you didn’t mean it quite as harsh as it came across?

    Prohibition was bad. It killed most of a vital, traditional part of America. The Mom-and-Pop brewing knowledge as well. Brewing’s made a hard-fought, ever-more-successful comeback. But the Big Guys didn’t cause it. And while it’s true there’ve been many buyouts and combinations along the way, it’s not without (sometimes hard) decisions by individual owners to sell or close, profit greatly or meander, and so forth.

    The question I offer other craft brewers like myself is … when is big enough “Big Enough”? And … would you sell, given the right offer?

    Having visited many breweries all over the place, I can’t say I’d agree with the list TripAdvisor came up with as “The Best” … however it is they managed to come up with it. (Hint: The reference is to PRNewsWire.) But TripAdvisor’s a travel site, not a beer site. I’d expect better from any-given beer-related site further down the learning curve. However, it’s still very useful in that it’s a way for beer-lovers and potential beer-lovers to submerse themselves further into what they’re learning to love. And that’s good for all of us. Cart. Horse.

  3. Ted Briggs says

    FX Matt has a great tour, and after 20mins in the hospitality room at the end I got the feeling I could stay all afternoon!

  4. safety man says

    Again, no offense intended to any/all brewers/breweries. There are “brewery” tours and there are brewery tours. Being a professional in the industry I often rate tours higher based on the cleanliness/appearance of the facility I am touring. I also consider the accuracy of the information that is being dispensed by the guide more then how many free beers i get.
    For example, I am from the Midwest, and I’ve been on the Lakefront “tour”. I am shocked how people could continue to drink the beer after they see the facility. Especially after you learn that your tour guide was some college kid who likes to drink free beer on the weekend.
    On the other side of the coin, New Glarus Brewing Co. might just be the most beautiful brewery with one of the most informative tours in the Midwest. However, it obviously doesn’t get nearly the amount of foot traffic that some of these other places do.
    I also find the Goose Island tour to be excellent as it is always hosted by an actual brewer. The tasting session is also hosted by a brewer. That should give you extra bonus points in my book.
    The fact that Sierra Nevada is not on the list is another shocker, absolutely beautiful facility, and of course top shelf product. I’m not sure how the writers of the article chose their locations.
    Anchor Brewing anybody? I mean you’re talking about one of the most storied breweries in America. Tour is very informative, and I got more then enough beer to drink.
    Yuengling should be mandatory. If a tour at the oldest brewery in America doesn’t get you excited I don’t know what does.

  5. admin says

    You are absolutely right. Thanks for knocking me off my high horse that I get on sometimes. I have been to the AB plant in St. Louis as well as private tours at Ft. Collins and Fairfield. The public tour at the St. Louis brewery is a great tour I agree. And I will say this; all three breweries I visited are incredibly impressive in terms of sophistication, automation, cleanliness and size.

    I am a little skeptical of how and why TripAdvisor put this out and I tend to have a strong dislike for any “list” that tries to “rate” anything.

    And NinkasiSwain; I agree — it’s probably best to leave the opinions to the community. Every once in awhile I just can’t help myself….:-)

    Thanks to all for the positive comments and feedback!


  6. pbutlert says

    I’ve toured A-B in St. Louis half a dozen times, but the “Beermaster Tour” must be new. I might have to kick down the $25 when I am there this Holiday season so I can be a “Beermaster”!:eek:

  7. BrewinLou says

    I am sure the Sam Adams tour of what ever facility they have in Boston is pretty but, I prefer the tour I got of the Sam Adams Cincinnati plant that produces 800k barrels last year, from a guy who has worked in that brewery for over 35 years (Hudepohl Schoenling) prior to SA. It was new and pretty in parts, it was old and stinky in parts. It was the people that made it for me, all great folks to meet.

  8. gitchegumee says

    Admin, I really didn’t want to come across as “knocking me off my high horse that I get on sometimes.” I do want to challenge the idea that the big guys can’t do anything right regarding beer. I think that by alienating the community of big brewers, we do ourselves a huge disservice. These guys are the ones pushing the science forward. These are the guys (and gals) with new equipment innovations. Writing papers. Sponsoring research. Collectively, their knowledge base is much broader than the little guys. We should invite them to share with us smaller breweries. I have many friends who work for non-“craft” breweries. They are some of the best brewers I know. To limit this site to newbies and tiny brewers would be to lobotomize it. Thanks for your understanding! Off my soapbox now.

  9. beerking1 says

    safety man wrote: Being a professional in the industry I often rate tours higher based on the cleanliness/appearance of the facility I am touring.

    then I recommend keeping away from the Cantillon tour in Brussels! (Which is another great tour by the way…although when I first went, Jean Pierre did not speak English and handed us a written guide for a self-guided tour.)

    FWIW, I have been to the AB tour in Williamsburg, VA (when they gave tours. I did the public one, and took a “Brewers’ Tour” guided by one of the A. Brewers. both were great, very informative, and enjoyable.

    As for the whole “Craft Brewers” vs. “Big Brewers” thing, we are all brewers, just making beer for different types of customers. Heck, Stone’s current Production Manager/Head Brewer, Mitch Steele was a Brewer at the Portsmouth, NH AB plant for many years.

  10. safety man says

    Obviously there are exceptions to the rule. I have toured Cantillon and I had the time of my life. However, last time I checked none of the breweries on the list would fit into the category of Cantillon. Thanks for pointing out the flaw in my logic.