Life is full of choices. Shall I wake up to go running or sleep in and rest my body? Should I have Jack or Jameson? Should we go somewhere new or go somewhere familiar? You shouldn’t have to make choices in your alcohol tourism destinations. Ideally, you should be able to visit every venue you desire. But we live in reality, where idealism is appreciated, but doesn’t always work out. Sometimes you need to choose. And one of the toughest choices is wine or beer.
Winery or Brewery?
Go to Google maps somewhere. Type in “winery”. Then “brewery”. In most parts of the country, you will have many more red balloons for the first search than the second. This makes it easier to craft your trip anywhere in the US, via nearly any route. At most wineries, you get close attention- usually there are few guests for each staff. This allows you to have a conversation with the staff about their winery, wine, location, growing season, or whatever you can think of. We commonly encountered winery owners on visits, who are excited to have guests and will talk your ear off about wine. They are usually quiet, allowing you to focus on enjoyment of the drink. At many wineries (though fewer and fewer), if you buy a bottle of wine, tasting is free. Most wineries are surrounded by beautiful countryside, making for pleasant vistas as you taste.
Go to Google maps where there is a city. Type in “brewery” or “brewpub”. There are breweries in any major population center, and most small ones in the US. Unless you travel vastly from the beaten path, you will pass through a town or city with a brewery, and those cities make excellent places to stay. At breweries, the servers leave you alone and don’t stand and stare at you while you enjoy the product. You can enjoy a range different beer styles at most breweries, exposing you to a variety of tasting experiences. Beer tastings always cost money, but the volume of beer you get with them is plenty for you to enjoy several sips, allowing you to check and recheck your first impressions. Patrons are often there to enjoy a pint or two, allowing them to relax and engage in conversation as they would at a pub. Live music is a regular offering at breweries on Friday and Saturday, and they are open convenient night time hours.
There are vast stretches of land in the US between cities or even towns, which are agricultural, and do have wineries where you won’t find a brewery for leagues. Wineries offer several varietals and may offer different vintages, allowing a vertical tasting. The wine is always served at the appropriate temperature, whereas at breweries it is often served excessively cold. You don’t have to deal with drunk, rude fellow guests. Better wineries have live music and are open during the day when you will be travelling on vacation. Wineries draw you out into the countryside, where you can enjoy beautiful drives through hill and dale.
Often a designated driver is not required, as urban locales provide nearby lodging. The range of tastes in beer is broader, with 3000+ types of beer (including adjuncts and flavoring) compared with 200 for wine, which rarely uses adjuncts. Beer appeals to a larger audience, from frat boys to beer geeks. Breweries have more personality, and are their reputations are easily sussed out online.
Not a decisive victory. For more reading, check out The Wandering Gourmand’s series on wine vs beer. What side do you weigh on?
This format inspired by Bobby White’s musings on swing music.