Although the United States is lucky enough to have the biggest, most diverse craft brewing scene in the world, an abundance of hoppy riches on the homefront is no reason to ignore some of the offerings abroad. There’s exceptional local beer from Bangalore, India to Vilnius, Lithuania to Wellington, New Zealand just waiting to be sampled.
Still, while we like visiting old brewing stalwarts in Bavaria as much as anyone, sometimes we dream of bigger, bolder adventures. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of beer-centric trips that go above and beyond the ordinary. Sure, some might question if it’s worth breaking the bank just to get a drink. To that we would paraphrase the old cliché: It’s about the journey, not the beer.
Wrap Your Body in Beer at a Costa Rican Hot Springs Resort
What’s better than visiting a luxe hot springs resort in the Costa Rican rainforest? How about one that brews its own deliciously malty beer? Or, wait, wait—what if the resort’s fancy-pants spa menu included a body wrap made with that same beer? While beer spas are nothing new, most of them can be found in the Czech Republic, as well as less exotic stateside locales. Tabacón would already be worth a visit for its lush location and natural hot springs, but its signature Kapi Kapi treatment should seal the deal for most hop-heads. The phrase means “Pura Vida” in the local indigenous Maleku language and it’s the name of the resort’s 8.2% ABV West Coast-style double IPA created with 5inco Amigos Cervecería, a local brewery. During the treatment, guests go for a dip in the restorative hot spring waters before being swaddled in an antioxidant-loaded body wrap made with the beer. A half-hour gives the pores a chance to absorb all those beneficial essential oils from the hops before the spa technician administers a hydrating facial. At $170 for 80 minutes, it’s not the cheapest way to get your hop fix, but it’s certainly one of the most indulgent.
Hike to a Brewery in the French Alps
Curiously, it wasn’t the jaw-dropping scenery that first attracted brewers to the snowy peaks of the Alps. The eight breweries that set up shop in the area in the 1800s were drawn by the unparalleled purity of alpine water. That melted glacial ice made for some exceptionally fine beer at Bière du Mont-Blanc—at least until the century-old brewery ceased production in 1966. In 1999, a French entrepreneur by the name of Sylvain Chiron revived the tradition to open Brasserie du Mont Blanc, which brews beers including La Rousse, a triple-malt amber with notes of chestnuts and caramel, a fragrant bouquet of spices, and a mix of Saaz and Alsace Strisselspalt hops. The brewery has scooped up multiple nods at the Global Craft Beer Awards and the World Beer Awards, proving that these beers are worth the climb.
Down a Beer on Easter Island
Only the truly determined make it to Cervecería Mahina, the one and only brewery out on the enigmatic Easter Island. The 63-square-mile speck of volcanic rock bobbing in the Pacific may be technically a Chilean territory, but it’s about as far from land or mod cons as you can get. Still, should you board the necessary flight from Santiago and venture to this most remote of breweries, you’ll be rewarded with porters and pale ales unavailable anywhere else in the world—not to mention some serious bragging rights and a glimpse of those iconic stone moai statues.
Have a Drink at Fiji’s Only Craft Brewery
In Fijian, the expression “mokusiga” roughly translates to killing time or chilling out. And if there’s a better way to chill out than on a tropical Polynesian island with a cold one in hand, we’re not sure what it is. Mokusiga bears the distinction of being the archipelago’s sole craft beer. As you might imagine, the lager is a crisp, easy-drinking number with an ABV that won’t knock you flat in the Pacific sun. To imbue their beer with a sense of place, Kailoma Brewing Co. brewed with Fijian spring water (of course) and a hop combination of Motueka from the South Pacific and Saaz for its spicy, herbal aromas. Uncomplicated and unfiltered, it’s a pretty ideal way to unwind after a day of surfing.
Go Trappist Monastery-Hopping in Belgium and the Netherlands
Historically speaking, monastic life didn’t involve a whole lot of earthly pleasures, with one critical exception: beer. In the Middle Ages, when water was frequently contaminated and unfit for human consumption, monks of various orders began brewing their own beer as a hygienic alternative. The Bavarian Paulaner monks considered beer to be such a crucial source of sustenance that they would substitute it for food during fasts. For the Trappist monks, beer became a major source of supplementary income—not to mention a way to alleviate some of the inevitable boredom while illuminating all those manuscripts. Today, the brewing traditions are still alive and well at a number of Trappist monasteries. While you can buy a bottle of Chimay all over the United States, it can’t quite stack up to the experience of tasting these beers at the source. On the Lonely Monks Trappist Tour, you’ll visit eight different Trappist breweries in the Netherlands and Belgium, including Achel, Zundert, LaTrappe, Orval, and Rochefort. Expect plenty of boozy tastings, not to mention exclusive access to a few areas usually off-limits to tourists.