Have you ever reached the end of a brewery tour, and there’s that uncomfortable moment when the tour guide asks if anyone has questions — and all you hear are crickets?
America’s small and independent breweries have stories, personalities and their own set of challenges that you may not hear about in the taproom. A brewery tour is your chance to get to know them intimately — and you want to be asking the right questions.
“I’d love for our guests to ask more about the breadth of ingredients that breweries are using, and not using, to make the beers they drink,” says Merlin Ward, head brewer at Wartega Brewing, a nano brewery in Brooklyn, New York. “Imagine if you could ask your chef why they chose the ingredients they use to make your favorite dish? During a brewery tour, you get that opportunity.”
Jeff Stuffings, founder and owner of Jester King Brewery in Austin, Texas, wishes more tour goers would ask, “Are there laws that make it more difficult to operate your business successfully? What can we do to help change them?”
Alicia Grasso, marketing director at Cape May Brewing Co. in New Jersey, says this is one rarely-asked question that her colleagues would love to field: “Why does Cape May have so many rules: no kitchen, no live entertainment, required tour?”
I’d love for our guests to ask more about the breadth of ingredients that breweries are using, and not using, to make the beers they drink.
Here are five more questions brewers wish you would ask during a tour.
5. “How is your beer connected to the local area?”
Careful thought often goes into weaving local ingredients and history into beer recipes and beer names. You may never know that the 1903 Berliner Weisse at St. Petersburg’s Green Bench Brewing Co. is named for the year the city was founded if you didn’t ask.
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4. “What’s unique about your beer? Why is it relevant?”
Each and every small and independent brewery in the U.S. is trying to find a way to stand out, and when you ask what’s different at a particularly brewery, you’re going to learn some very specific techniques your favorites breweries are using.
This is a question a lot of beer lovers ask their friends, and brewers say they want to tell you about the craft beers that made them fall in love with brewing, too. Everyone wants to share their story about what hooked them, even the people who are making the beer.
2. “Is working at a brewery different than what you thought it would be?”
Working to build America’s small and independent breweries is a dream job for a lot of us, but is it everything you’d think? Chances are the love of the job still trumps the long hours and (sometimes) hot, sticky work conditions inside a brewery. But ask! You’ll probably get answers you’d never expect.
1. “What efforts do you make to be environmentally friendly?”
Georgia’s SweetWater Brewing Co. is donating $100,000 to its “Save Our Water” campaign this summer. New Belgium Brewing is deeply committed to its sustainability goals. Jester King is now farming 58 acres of land around the brewery. Small and independent breweries are well aware of the resources used to make good beer, and they’d love to tell any tour group how they’re working towards being good stewards of the land and our planet.
CraftBeer.com is fully dedicated to small and independent U.S. breweries. We are published by the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade group dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s small and independent craft brewers. Stories and opinions shared on CraftBeer.com do not imply endorsement by or positions taken by the Brewers Association or its members.