Sips & Suds: 12 Best Unusual Beer Experiences In The USA

There are better ways to enjoy a beer than perched on an uncomfortable bar stool. Peruse this collection of the world’s top unusual beer experiences to switch up your beer routine, culminating in a city that can satisfy the quirkiness of your beer needs. Try rafting down Oregon’s Rogue River with a master brewer and his products, enjoying a microbrew in the shade of the Sonoma Country Sarangeti, brewing your own ale as you sail down the Maine coast or sipping a cold one as you watch the World Ski Joring Championship in Montana.  If these adventures wet your palate for more wacky booze-centric experiences, check out top international beer experiences here.

Beers featured throughout the Safari. Photo courtesy of Safari West.

Beers featured throughout the Safari. Photo courtesy of Safari West.

1) Brew & Buffalo (Sonoma County, California)

Who needs Africa when you can experience the Serengeti in Sonoma, California with a micro-brewed beer in your hand? Join Safari West for an unforgettable blend of Sonoma County’s best brewed ales, lagers and stouts and living, breathing exotic buffalo, giraffes and zebras. Armed with savory snacks and a hand-selected brew in hand, a knowledgeable guide will lead you through a three-hour unforgettable safari adventure. Learn about wildlife and conservation as guides share their love of brewing with samples along the way. After voyaging past African wildlife in a safari vehicle, settle on a hilltop under the shade of beautiful live oak and bay trees for a postcard-worthy photo opp.
 Estimated cost for the trip 
is $700, with a mall-group size of eight guests maximum. Click here for more information
.

Mary Day. Photo courtesy of Captain Jen Martin

The Mary Day- built in 1962, the Schooner Mary Day was the first schooner built to carry vacationers in the Maine wind jamming trade and it will carry you on your booze cruise through Maine. Photo courtesy of Captain Jen Martin

2) Brewing & Tasting Sailing Cruise (Maine Coast)

Step abroad the MS Mary Day for an unforgettable brewing and drinking tour. Spend six days aboard this nineteenth-century-style 90-foot Schooner with an intimate crew of less than 30 guests, mingling as you enjoy daily samplings of craft beers paired with your evening meals. You will even help brew a batch of nut-brown ale from start to finish while on board — which you can take home at the end of your trip
. For a larger-scale brewery experience, you will tie up at Marshall Wharf Brewing Co in Belfast, Maine, for a tour and tasting. Throughout the trip, enjoy scenic sailing, new anchorages each night, delicious meals prepared on a wooden stove
 and even an island lobster bake on a deserted beach. 
Since you will be setting sail in June, it’s likely you’ll encounter baby seals, nesting eagles and blooming
lupines. 
This six-day Beers of the Maine
 Coast Cruise is scheduled for June 15-20, 2015 and costs $1,025 per person. Click here for more information.

Beer Jump.  Photo courtesy of  Great Northern Brewing Company.

Long jump with beer in hand! Photo courtesy of Great Northern Brewing Company.

3) Skijoring (Whitefish, Montana)

What is Skijoring? Big Sky’s signature extreme sport combines the area’s cowboy roots with its ski racing heritage. Skijoring is derived from the Norwegian word for “ski driving” and in Whitefish, a single horse guided by a rider pulls a person on skis through an obstacle course in a manner akin to water skiing. What originated as a method of winter travel, now has grown into an entertaining and exciting performance sport. The World Skijoring Championships have been held in Whitefish for over five years as part of the area’s winter carnival. The event has grown to quite the party with plenty of hot food and it’s the perfect place to grab a frosty beer in the Great Northern Brewery Beer Gardens. They sell a 32-ounce commemorative mug out of their beer bus, and one contestant actually took the gold in the long jump competition, mug in hand (see photo above)!  Best of all? Admission is free for spectators. A nominal $5 parking fee per vehicle benefits the non-profit Human Therapy on Horseback. Click here for more information.

An assortment of exotic sliders.  Photo courtesy of Burgers and Buns.

An assortment of exotic sliders. Photo courtesy of Burgers and Buns.

4) Beer & Buns Pairings (New York City)

Explore a whole new world of Beer & Buns restaurant at A St Giles Premier Hotel in New York City. Their extensive beer menu spans the globe and includes local favorites, which taste even better when paired when the restaurant’s Pan-American burgers and sliders. Try the “Southern Smack Down” — a Japanese-inspired burger made from marinated pork shoulder, fresh herbs, vegetables and soy sauce — paired with a Radeberger Pilsner whose light bodied, crisp and slightly grassy flavor compliments the herbs and vegetables in this burger. If you’re feeling spicy, the “Grouper on Fire” made with homemade spicy chili sauce is a must. The Founders All Day IPA’s delightful citrus aromas and pleasantly bitter taste allows the spices from the sauce to dance on the tongue without overpowering the fish flavors. For a final recommendation, the “Bangkok Dangerous” features addictive a tom yum shrimp infused “patty” cooked in Thai spices is best enjoyed with a Harpoon UFO White. This orange peel and coriander wheat beer plays nicely with Southeast Asian spices. Click here for more information.

Golfing in Tweed for the Missoula Craft Cup.  Photo courtesy of Alan McCormick.

Golfing in Tweed for the Missoula Craft Cup. Photo courtesy of Alan McCormick.

5) Mini-Golf For The Craft Beer Cup (Missoula, Montana)

As with all good beer festivals, Missoula’s craft beer celebration will involve a multi-day celebration of beer-centric events. There will be pairing dinners, beer-themed movie nights, blind tastings and mini brew demos and classes designed for the home brewer. You can “hop” on Missoula’s newest and coolest bike, Thirst Gear — a 15-seater “pedal pub” — for a tour to three different Missoula watering holes and learn all about hops. The most exciting event is the “Craft Beer Cup,” where 
local bars host nine custom-built, mini-golf holes, each paired with one of their brews. Teams of 4-6 compete for who can sink the most holes, all for the noble cause of supporting the local food bank. Wearing of tweed is highly encouraged!  Tentatively, Missoula Craft Beer Week is scheduled for April 26 to May 2, 2015 — although keep an eye out for the sign-up because last year’s event sold out quick. Click here for more information and last year’s schedule.

Custom brews brought to you by Portsmouth Brewery.  Photo courtesy of The Portsmouth Brewery

Custom brews brought to you by Portsmouth Brewery. Photo courtesy of The Portsmouth Brewery

6) A History Crawl Through The Strawbery Banke Museum (Portsmouth, New Hampshire)

Are you a Revolutionary War junkie who enjoys a good pint? The Strawbery Banke Museum’s “history crawl” allows you to enjoy the 10-acre living history 
museum in downtown with special brews made by the Portsmouth Brewery. Wander alongside costumed role-players and traditional craftspeople in renovated homes on New Hampshire’s waterfront, complete with beautiful heirloom and heritage gardens.

 The Brewery used hops, herbs and
 fruit from the museum gardens and greenhouse to create custom brews such as the “Orange Pitt Saisson” or a “Portsmouth Fruit Gruit” with notes of plum and cinnamon. Events are hosted in the historic Pitt Tavern, which historically welcomed many notable individuals, including President George Washington who visited in 1789. Pitt Tavern comes alive again with monthly events, starting with a Haunted
 Pubs of Portsmouth Crawl on October 29, 2014, and “Winter Nights at Pitt Tavern” from January through April 2015. Check their calendar for beer and live music events.

Lobby and Teller Bar in Denver Downtown City Center Hotel. Photo courtesy of Renaissance.

Lobby and Teller Bar in Denver Downtown City Center Hotel. Photo courtesy of Renaissance.

7) Drink A Beer At The Bank Bar (Denver, Colorado)

The Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel blends the old with the new with their modern hotel, built within the Colorado National Bank and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The neo-classical Greek revival building was constructed in 1915 in the heart of the “Wall Street of the Rockies,” created with marble from the Colorado Yule Marble Company — the same marble used to build the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. You can learn more about the history of the space with a complimentary interactive walking tour, available via smartphone. The Teller Bar, located in the hotel’s lobby, pays homage to the place’s history. Aptly named for the bank tellers who once stood where the bar is now situated, it features small bites, craft cocktails and local beers. Try the “Countinghouse,” a Pre-Prohibition Style Cream Ale created exclusively for the property by Denver-based Former Future Brewery. Inspired by the historic setting, the beer reinvigorates antique recipes with cutting-edge techniques. The brew is only available at the property and the brewer’s taproom. Click here for more information.

TopNotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont. Photo courtesy of TopNotch.

TopNotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont. Photo courtesy of TopNotch.

8) “Got Beer?” At Topnotch Resort Stowe, Vermont)

Want a cozy, mountain retreat as the perfect place to crash after long days of exploring the “Disneyland of Beer?” Consider staying at Topnotch Resort in Stowe, Vermont, where your journey will be jump-started with their “Got Beer?” package. 

You will enjoy luxurious accommodations in this majestic resort, where you’re just minutes away from cross-country and downhill skiing — two miles (three kilometers) from Mt. Mansfield — golfing, horseback riding, sleigh rides, hiking and biking. But if you’re here strictly for beer, you will have plenty to keep you busy. 
They offer two backstage passes to a private tour of The Crop Bistro and Brewery where you’ll receive an exclusive flight sample and pretzel bites, as well as a growler to take home. Moreover, enjoy a
 craft beer tasting right at the resort’s onsite bar and eatery. Guests will bring home 
the Official Vermont Brewery Challenge Passport
 Brewery Guide and and a signed copy of FarmPlate Vermont Beer book. Rates begin at $170 per person. Click here for more information.

The Barber Shop. Photo courtesy of The Mirage.

The Barber Shop. Photo courtesy of The Mirage.

9) Beer & A Shave (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Do you think salons are just for ladies? There’s nothing feminine about this salon experience at the new Whiskey Bar at The Mirage. Men, get ready Traditional Hot Lather Shave by picking your poison at the sophisticated bar. Choose from a selection of whiskeys or pour a pint of ice cold “Cerveza Pacifico” from the tap. What better way to get your whiskers trimmed than in front of flat-screen TVs with a cold drink in your hand? This mini man-retreat is the perfect break between hitting the slots and hitting the Strip. A drink and a shave costs $50.  Click here for more information.

Camping with Paddles and Pints. Photo courtesy of Rogue River Wilderness.

Camping with Paddles and Pints. Photo courtesy of Rogue Wilderness Adventures.

10) Paddles & Pints (Rogue River, Oregon)

Can life get much better than rafting down the Rogue River with an Oregon brewer, eager to share his knowledge and samples of his brews? On this four-day rafting trip courtesy of Rogue Wilderness Adventures, you’ll explore the historic river canyon, dine on delicious food and taste beer with an Oregon brewer. The first two nights will be spent camping in picturesque places, with the last night in the Paradise Lodge for an evening of relaxation and even more beer tastings. The three-night trip costs $949 per person. Click here for more information.

 

Pinzgauer
Scavenger’s Beer Adventures’ Pinzgauer

11) Scavenge For Beer In A Military Utility Vehicle (San Diego, California)

A unique way to explore San Diego and the surrounding areas’ drink scene is to take a tour with Scavengers Beer Adventures. Guides are all home brewers, and as you ride around the city in a in a six wheel drive, all terrain, high mobility army utility Pinzgauer you’ll also sip experimental home-brewed West Coast beers (green tea beer, anyone?). Fun fact: the company’s name comes from when there weren’t very many breweries around, especially with regular hours, and they really had to go “scavenging” for beer. However, this is certainly no longer the case.

Featured image courtesy of Kzenon via Shutterstock

Will bend for beer! Photo courtesy of the Traveling Yogini.

Will bend for beer! Photo courtesy of the Travelling Yogini.

12) Bend And Brew In Beer City USA (Asheville, NC)

Asheville, North Carolina is the ultimate mecca for people with an insatiable appetite for new beer experience. The mountain town known as “Beer City USA” lives, eats and breathes beer with more micro-breweries per capita than any American city (roughly one brewery per 8,000 people). You can start your unforgettable, hoppy day with Bend and Brew, one hour of yoga followed by a tasting at a local brewery. From there, continue your journey to tranquility with a foot soak with a local Bröö brand beer-based body wash (topped with dried-hops!) at Wake Foot Sanctuary. If all this relaxation makes you hungry, feast on a Rotating Tap Doughnut at Vortex Doughnuts (opening October 2014) which features a different local beer each day. Wash it down with a custom-made blend at Asheville Brewing Company which allows you to dry-hop your own pints.  Try their “If It Fitz” combination of Troy & Sons local moonshine, Parrot Bay Coconut Rum, a splash of Amaretto, combined with GPI’s own Great Gatsby Abby Ale. For dessert, head to French Broad Chocolate Lounge for a bite of their heavenly Highland Black Mountain Stout cake. Before you leave, make sure to bring home some beer-based souvenirs: brew for your ‘do with BRÖÖ beer-based shampoo, dog biscuits made from spent grain courtesy of Oyster House Brewing Company or a must-have mustard made from Highland ‘s Gaelic Ale and Ninja Porter.

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Katie Foote may be a physicist by trade but she travels the world any chance she can get. After four years of semi-nomadic life as she finished her PhD, she's recently moved to Auckland, New Zealand. Despite beginning a more traditional life, she has insight on how to travel the world on a graduate student budget (cheap!), explore off-the-beaten-path destinations and authentically experiencing new places by connecting to locals. When she's not doing physics or globe-trotting, she likes to swim, do yoga and hike (or "tramp" as they say in New Zealand). Check out Katie's blog to follow her adventures around the world.

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