You might find a your favourite obscure six-pack in a specialty store, but generally, the best way to enjoy beer’s incredible flavour diversity is to stick with what’s fresh and local. And even breweries that ship products around the country have special offerings you can only find on-location or nearby.
So to savour the best of the best, you have to travel.
Over at the website FlowingData, statistician and beer aficionado Nathan Yau has calculated the most mathematically efficient way to visit the top breweries in the contiguous United States while driving as few miles as possible.
Here’s the route in all its glory, republished with permission from Yau:
Yau borrowed an algorithm created by researcher Randal Olson to calculate the shortest route between breweries in the 48 continguous states that made RateBeer’s list of the top 100 breweries in the world.
The map only includes 70 US breweries, though: Anchorage Brewing Company in Alaska was left off the map because of the long drive to the land of the midnight sun; Evil Twin was omitted because they have no home and travel to different locations to brew (gypsy brewing, in beer parlance); and as one Twitter commenter points out, Lawson’s Finest Liquids makes the list but doesn’t seem to appear on the map — no worries, it’s just 20 miles south of The Alchemist in Warren, Vermont.
As Yau explains on FlowingData, travelling to every stop on the list would take about 197 hours of driving time, travelling through 40 states and stopping in 28. If you check out his site, he’s also got a graphic that provides a visit order where you can pick any brewery to start at and then follow the route from there.
Drinking and driving is a dangerous combination, of course. So assuming you sample a brew or two at each stop, take enough time for your body to metabolize the alcohol (don’t drive under the influence!), and sleep near a brewery every night, Yau writes that you could in theory make the trip in about 20 days. (If you’re tight on time, consider finding a sober designated driver.)
Many brewery locations are only open at certain days and times. Tree House in Massachusetts, for example, is a stop you don’t want to miss — the “In Perpetuity” IPA is one of the most delightful things I’ve ever tasted — but it’s only open Thursday and Friday evenings, Saturday days, and sells cans on Wednesdays.
And as Yau points out, at least two locations — Clown Shoes in Massachusetts and The Alchemist in Vermont — are currently closed to the public, though they may reopen at some point.
In my own beer adventures, however, I’ve learned you can still capitalise on a closed-to-the-public brewery’s offerings. For example, I make a yearly pilgrimage to a Vermont beer festival and found a delightful taco spot that carries The Alchemist’s Heady Topper in cans and Hill Farmstead brews on tap, which is both wonderful and unfair to the rest of the world.
So who wants to take a month off next summer and go for a drive?
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