Although we often make decisions on where to go based on the presence of neat wineries/breweries/distilleries/etc., that is not the only way to enjoy alcohol tourism. In fact, you can add alcohol tourism to any trip you are taking! And you can potentially alter your route to make it easier to hit some promising locales without much difficulty. We do this all the time, but most recently have done it while traveling to Pensacola Beach and across the country both ways.
There aren’t a lot of locales between Athens and Pensacola Beach (excluding Atlanta), but we have routinely made it a habit to extend our trip just an hour or so in order to hit some of them. Cannon Brewpub in Columbus, GA is easy to get to from the interstate and a nice detour on the road. On arriving in Pensacola Beach, our new favorite is Gulf Coast Brewing- great beer and nice space.
Taking I-40 west from Athens/Atlanta, Memphis, Little Rock, Oklahoma City (OKC), Amarillo, Albuquerque, and Flagstaff all offer options for brewery and brewpub stops. We routinely adjusted our schedule so we hit one of these for lunch, dinner, or both. Depending on how far you drive in a single day, from OKC you can hit Amarillo for lunch and Albuquerque for dinner, or take a more leisurely route driving off the interstate and still arrive in Amarillo with plenty of time to enjoy a couple of locales.
In OKC, we can recommend Twisted Spike and COOP Aleworks. In Amarillo, you may be tempted to check out The Big Texan. While technically a brewpub, we can’t possibly recommend it- touristy and not good beer. We instead suggest Long Wooden Spoon which, while the best brewery in Amarillo, still has some significant flaws in the beer.
Once you reach Albuquerque, the world is your oyster. Almost a dozen breweries are easily reached from the interstate- take your pic and tell us how it works out! From Albuquerque, we recommend cutting off I-40 at 117 to head towards El Malpais National Monument, then cut back up to I-40 to get to the Petrified Forest. The “brewery” in Winslow isn’t one- skip it unless you want to check out the historic significance of Standin’ on the Corner. Once in Flagstaff, you have to detour from the interstate into downtown to get to the breweries. There we can recommend Historic Brewing, Flagstaff Brewing, and Mother Road Brewing.
Going from Phoenix to Alabama, we are planning to travel mostly off the interstate and go east from Pueblo, CO. Each day has a brewpub lunch stop and brewery dinner stop built in. It’s easy to find nice locations when you are traveling for some other reason. Try out some new adventures on YOUR next trip!