As Master Yoda would say, “Size matters not.” In the brewing world, the amount of beer being made only changes the size and complexity of equipment used and not necessarily the process. Whether commercial or novice homebrewer, the process remains the same. Grains converted to fermentable sugars. boiled with hops and other additives. Allowing yeast to eat, transforming the wort into delicious beer.
Awesome the process is the same! I have been to scores of commercial breweries as well as make many batches of my own homebrew. What does a brewery tour do for me? Especially paid tours. Are they worth it? From an opportunity cost perspective, would I be better off going straight to the tap-room and sampling all their beers?
A couple of weeks ago, I went on a tour that I paid $10 to take part. The coolest parts about the tour? I got to see active fermentation in a huge bubbling bucket and I was able to nerd out by understanding everything the tour guide was talking about when describing the souring techniques and yeast propagation process. But was that worth the money to get on that tour? I spent money on beer and merchandise anyway. A free tour I went at another brewery on offered a similar discussion and showcase of equipment but I still felt afterwards I would be better served by ordering a beer in the tap-room and trying to find someone who knew about the recipes and history of the brewery.
Don’t get me wrong. I completely understand the point of a brewery tour. For tourists, it is a way to see the sights of city. For some beer people it helps connect with a brewery. For the bro’s it’s a way to get free beer at the end of the tour. The brewery gives the populace a specific reason to come to the brewery and engage on personal level maybe converting some into advocates for the brewery.
I have seen some really entertaining brewery tour guides. Especially at a specific local brewery. I have also trudge through some tours where the guide would rather be anywhere else but describing what a fermentor was or droning through the statistical trivia for the brewery’s production.
I guess I, personally as a huge beer nerd and homebrewer, am looking for a reason to take run of the mill brewery tours. If the brewery is not a beer nerd Mecca, then why should I take the tour? Especially if the tour is coming from someone not intimately involved in the brewing process. I am not currently operating a brewery of my own, so I can’t even compare equipment or standards. Looking at the pictures I’ve taken, if there weren’t captions, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart if I hadn’t taken them. While breweries make vastly different beers in styles and techniques, the tours are still very similar.
Am I wrong? Am I missing something? Why do you go on brewery tours?