Big brewery, big tour. (Stone Brewing)

How to Plan an Epic Washington Beer Tour

This is a guest post, written by Glenn Orloff. He’s an expert at this kind of trip planning. For the sake of disclosure, he is founder and CEO of Metropolitan Shuttle. That said, his advice is great and it’s relevant regardless of what transportation company you use or even if you decide you don’t need to use one at all.

Planning the Epic Washington Beer Tour
by Glenn Orloff

Being the life of the party can be exhausting. But, you can plan the best-ever beer tour and still have fun, yourself. All it takes is a little advance planning. Here are some tips for orchestrating a Washington beer tour:

  1. triple_ipaDetermine a general area with plenty of tasting venues in close proximity. Downtown Seattle has a cluster of beer-tasting establishments, mostly consisting of beer bars and brewpubs. If you move into the Ballard Avenue district, however, you will find a combination of beer bars and breweries. Look at the tastes of your guests and their tasting style to figure out where would be the best opportunity to maximize the event. Have a “map” before you go of specifically what venues you plan to visit and the approximate time you plan to arrive at each.
  2. whitewall_1dHow will you be traveling between breweries? Of course, safety is the utmost priority, especially where you know your guests will be drinking. You can always select a designated driver to get everyone where they need to go, but there are a few downsides to using that method: (1) You need to have a DD for every carful of guests, which means that if you have a 20-person beer tour, up to five people might need to be drivers, and (2) the drivers may feel as though they are missing out on the fun of a beer tasting if they’re not able to consume much beer. And, they really should not consume much beer if they’re driving. An alternative to the DD is to rent a shuttle van, charter bus, minibus, or similar from a reputable transportation provider (such as  Metropolitan Shuttle) that has a driver and can comfortably and safely get everyone where they want to go. This option saves anyone from having to be the DD, and it saves everyone the hassle of dealing with directions, finding parking and all of the other little quandaries involved in doing your own driving. The best part? You can all just relax and have fun together. And, if you’re a little, uh, inebriated by the end of the night, that’s okay.
  3. Call ahead. Sometimes, breweries will close to tours for various reasons, like maintenance, and they might not advertise that on their websites or social media. So, once your trip date gets close, contact each brewery and make sure that it will be open for tours and tastings at the time when you expect to be there.
  4. imageAllow for non-beer time. If you’re heading out on a multiple-day trip, or even a full-day trip, it might be a good idea to schedule some “down” time in between breweries so that your guests can unwind (and sober up). Depending on whether you’re traveling out of town or not, this could mean planning to visit a fun tourist attraction, or even just spending a few hours hanging out at the hotel pool. If it’s an all-day local event, you could even plan for a midday softball game or other activity so that there’s a break in the beer consumption. It will likely make the overall beer tasting experience a better one to have a break in the middle. If none of these is possible, you could make reservations for lunch or dinner at restaurants that are not beer-oriented, so the focus is more on the food than on the beverages at mealtimes.
  5. Have a backup plan. Regardless of how you’re traveling or where you’re going, if you’re in charge of organizing the event, you want to have a contingency plan in place if anything goes wrong. For one thing, what if someone gets sick? You know your guests and should have an idea as to how likely it is that they could drink to the point of becoming ill. There’s at least one in every crowd, right? If you’re using a charter bus rental company, you need to know what its policy is for passengers who are drunk or sick. You don’t want to be out on a beer tour, have one person vomit and then have everyone kicked off the bus and be stranded. Certainly, a bus rental company might not want to hear up front that there’s a likelihood of anyone vomiting on its buses, but you can read the fine print in the contract to see if there is a clause about drunkenness and what the consequences could be. As well, check the bus rental company’s policies with regard to other reasons for last-minute cancellations (for example, if there’s a possibility of bad weather that could derail your trip). If the bus rental company knows that you’re getting the charter bus for a beer tour, it could request a damage deposit ahead of time. Find out how you can ensure that your deposit will be returned to you at the conclusion of the trip.

All things considered, planning a beer tour shouldn’t be too time-consuming or difficult. A little organization can go a long way with respect to making sure that everything goes smoothly and that everyone has a safe and fun trip. Enjoy!


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