by Ben Keene
Spend long periods of time on the road and you’ll start missing a handful of creature comforts — a soft bed, the occasional hot shower, good beer... OK, maybe I’m the only one with beer at the top of their list, but unless you’re keeping to the most threadbare of shoestring budgets, these aren’t the kinds of things you’ll want to compromise on for more than six, maybe seven days. Personally, I’d rather endure several nights of lumpy mattresses than go without a flavorful beer. But then again, we’ve all got our own peculiar travel priorities.
Happily for anyone who’s set out to find the perfect elixir of hops, malt, and yeast, more and more brewpubs and breweries now offer on-site accommodation. This means that people like me can sample local suds all over the world and simply head upstairs after last call — no need to wait outside for a taxi or a good samaritan to take pity on you.
From a modest room at a Belgian abbey to a night at the highest brewpub in Africa, the options are many and the beers are anything but ordinary. For the beer geek with a serious case of wanderlust, consider this your Grand Tour.
#1 Brauereigasthof Hotel, Germany
Just about any imbiber has either been to Germany already, or has this beer-rich country near the top of their to-visit list. The easy explanation for this is the fact that worldwide, only the United States can claim more breweries per capita. Quite simply, it would take a lifetime to try every beer produced by this European nation.
Just south of Munich, Ayinger is a well-known brewery in the town of Aying, often commended for its strong, dark Celebrator. At the nearby Brauereigasthof Hotel, single rooms are worth splurging on, especially since breakfast is included and you’ll be able to tour the brewery or use the sauna the next day. (Photo courtesy of Bernt Rostad)
#2 Maltsters, Cardiff
Across the North Sea and to the east, the Welsh brewery Brains has diversified its business in recent years, branching out from draught ales and bottled bitters to include 34 hotels or pubs with lodging across Wales and southern England.
Maltsters, to the north of central Cardiff, is one such establishment. Besides always having Amstel, Peroni, and Pilsner Urquell as well as four of their own beers on tap, Maltsters rents five comfy, stylish rooms that include ensuite bathrooms. Also worth noting: absolutely no rules about sipping a pint of Brains Black in bed.
#3 Abbey Notre Dame D’Orval, Luxembourg
Of course no brew tour is complete without a stop in tiny Belgium, a country that legendary beer writer Michael Jackson succinctly described as having “beers of astonishing individuality, diversity, and tradition.” Among Belgian beer producers, the seven Trappist breweries have long been highly regarded for the complexity of their ales.
In the province of Luxembourg, Orval makes its namesake aromatic, orange-colored concoction at the the Abbey Notre Dame d’Orval, a monastery that also operates a guesthouse. Bring your own sheets and towels, and don’t expect the monks to encourage revelry. (Photo courtesy of Emmanuel Hybrechts)
#4 Hotel Gdansk, Poland
Meanwhile, on the coast of northern Poland—Baltic porter territory — Hotel Gdańsk offers more than just a place to nurse a hangover the night after too many high alcohol beverages. Travelers who choose to stay in this converted granary while visiting the city at the mouth of the Gdania River can also book a beer package. Included in the price of this year-round deal is a dish from the Restaurant Brewery Brovarnia Gdańsk, a half-liter of their light, dark, or wheat beer, and a short talk from the brewmaster that promises to reveal “some interesting beer facts.”