I’ve partnered with Travelocity —the website I bought my first plane ticket from— to spread the word about beer tourism. Keep an eye out for information about travel and beer in the upcoming weeks, give me your tips and tricks, tweet me the travel articles you love most. Let’s grab a beer and talk about adventure.
Brews Traveler: Tips for Traveling with Beer
Beer travelers face the same dilemma once their hop and malt swilling exploits have come to an end: how to bring home the goods. Due, in part, to distribution laws and limited productions, beer tourists often find bottles of beer impossible to find in their home town, and often, beer that they will never have the opportunity to own again. Now that you are the proud owner of some craft beer whales (whales is a term that means hard to find beer), what next?
- What to bring, what to leave A good rule of thumb is that if you can get it back home, don’t take it home. Sure, I know it’s exciting to buy Arrogant Bastard Ale at Stone Brewery, but if you can get it at you local bottle shop, don’t go to the hassle of trying to get it home. It won’t taste any different from what you can buy elsewhere. Growlers are a gray area. Unless it’s a really, really, really hard to find, one of a kind brew, it’s not a good idea to try to deal with a growler while traveling. If you know that you’ll be bringing home a growler of super rare beer, try to invest in a stainless steel version. Generally these growlers are lighter weight (a huge issue when transporting beer), provide a tighter seal, and because light stays out, the beer stays fresher longer. Cans are you friend. If you have the option between a bottle and a can, skip the bottles. Cans are lighter, less fragile, and less susceptible to breakage.
- Flying Even with the possible added charge that comes along with checked luggage, this is often your best bet. A few things to keep in mind before departing for your beer explorations. First, pack light. Bombers (the large bottles of beer), take up a lot of space. Second, if you have a hard shell suitcase, bring that. The more structure the better, avoid duffel bags. Place all bottles in separate gallon sized ziplock bags, just in case of a leak or break before wrapping. To wrap the bottles, you have a few options. You can wrap tightly in your clothes, securing with rubber bands. You can bring (or buy) bubble wrap for around your brews. You can bring inflatable kiddie arm-band swim floaties to keep your bottles secure. No matter your method of choice, make sure the bottles don’t touch anything hard, and are completely immobile.
- To ship or not to ship Technically, for the most part, it isn’t illegal to ship beer. It is, however, against all major shipping companies policies. They do ship wine, and other alcohols, and several larger craft breweries are doing their part to change these policies, but for now, you’ll have to do so at your own risk. There are some beers that could possibly qualify as wine, such as mead and craft cider. Many shifty shippers label the boxes contents as “collectable glass bottles,” or “live yeast samples,” although there is some reality to that, it still isn’t exactly truthful. A better bet, if you have a jam-packed suitcase to transport home, is to ship your clothes home in a box and use the extra space to transport your stash of newly acquired craft beer home. Ask the hotel you’re staying at, on rare occasions they can ship the bounty for you.
- Products for transport Several companies make padded bags specifically designed for air travel with bottles. Wine Hug, Jet Bag, BottleGuard and Wine Skin are all originally made for traveling with wine, but are a perfect fit for bombers of beer. Wine Check, in a similar fashion, is made specifically to check a dozen bottles of wine, but again, is a perfect fit for twelve big bottles of beer.
Got any great beer transportation tips? Let them in the comments section, I’d love to hear them!
I was compensated by Travelocity for this post, all opinions and ideas are my own.