I never really know what to make of brewery tours. Sure, when I work at Starr Hill, I do the occasional tour of the facility and wax lyrical about the process of brewing beer, but I must admit there are few breweries that I would absolutely want to tour.
In ten years living in Prague I didn't go on the brewery tour at Plzeň, at the time I didn't see the need - I did however enjoy their wares in the brewery pub. When we went to Ireland back in 2008, I felt no urge to go to St James' Gate, though I enjoyed pints of Guinness in Dublin, Galway and points in between. The closest I got to a brewery tour before moving to the States was sitting in the brewery bar at U Medvídků while they were at work creating their magnificent Oldgott Barrique. I have of course had the pleasure of seeing up close and personal the workings of the Devils Backbone brewhouse, with its decoction kettle and various other bits and bobs.
This whole train of thought came about because a friend asked me what breweries in the world I would really like to visit, in terms of looking that their process and equipment rather than just going to a tasting room or pub to drink their beers - something I do thoroughly enjoy, especially when the tasting toom is as nicely set up as Williamsburg Alewerks. So without further ado....
1. Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, England
From what I understand, Hook Norton is one of the few, if not the only, remaining tower brewery in the United Kingdom. A tower brewery used gravity to move through the brewing process, so basically you start at the top of the building and work your way down. The brewery also has a 19th century steam engine, and I love steam engines. It also helps that Hook Norton make several of my favourite beers, including their Double Stout.
2. Kout na Šumavě, Czech Republic
I know I bang on about how much I love their beers, and so what better reason to go and see the old buildings that house the production of some of the world's best beers (I was going to say just lager, but I think they are better than many an ale as well - hence people who deride lager are idiots in my world - here endeth the lesson). Part of me would also love to see where my good friend Evan put his foot through the floor without spilling a drop.
Just a couple there, where would love to go?