I am passionate about three things in this world: photography, travel and beer. Fortunately for me, these three things go together like peanut butter and jelly on bread.
Brewery tours can be one of the most interesting places to photograph – providing a unique range of subjects from the large, industrial equipment down to the smallest of fascinating details in the brewing process- and always offering you a great opportunity to sample the wares at the end.
When you think of travel and beer, thoughts naturally go to the famous big breweries around the world: Heineken in Amsterdam; Coors Brewery in Boulder, Colorado; or Carlsburg Beer in Denmark to name a few. And while each of these tours offers a look into the history of the company, and an overview of the brewing process, they are limited in their access to the true manufacturing environment – and may not be the most camera friendly places either.
Look for local
A better option for photography is to look for the local gems in your area. I am fortunate enough to live near the oldest American owned brewery – the D.G. Yuengling Brewery in Pottsville, Pa. Their tour not only offers access to the original brewery, down to the tunnels that had to be sealed during Prohibition times, but it also gives an up close tour of the current brewing line – and a sampling of some pretty tasty ales. All making for some great images.
Go for the Crafts
But it is really the rise in popularity in craft beers, which gave rise to the launch of microbreweries around the world, that provides us with the best opportunities to tour, sample and photograph all that is fascinating about beer.
In the US alone, craft brewers grew from only 8 in 1980 to over 6,000 in 2018 according to the Brewers Association. Which means you don’t need to look far to find a unique place to sip and photograph truly unique craft beer.
Find the craft brewery tours
Craft beer microbreweries are becoming so pervasive we tend not to think of them as tour destinations anymore, but merely as a place to meet our friends for a pint after work. Oh sure, you may have a favorite one in your own backyard that you occasionally will remember to take a camera to, but do you ever think to make it a destination? Most microbreweries will offer behind the scenes tours just like the big guys do – but these usually give you a more personal interaction with the brewing process.
Add a quick search as part of your vacation planning to see if you can find breweries that are worth a short drive or weekend get away the next time you travel. Whether it is around your state or around the world, chances are good you can find a craft brewery worthwhile including in your next trip itinerary.
Unique places worth a trip
Some breweries are worthy a trip just for their own sake. Did you know that Svalbard Bryggeri is the northern most location where beer is brewed located 650 miles south of the North Pole? Or that Trappist Monks have been brewing beer in their Sint-Sixtusabdji Monestary in Belgium for centuries? Or try the Weihenstaphan Brewery just outside of Munich, Germany to see the oldest brewery in the world. And look no further than the Church Brew Works in Pittsburg, PA to enjoy a cold one in a truly heavenly setting. The point is, there are as many interesting places to visit breweries, as there are interesting beers to try.
Take the shot
Once you find a great brewery to visit – take advantage of the entire range of photography subjects available to you. And while it is always interesting to focus on the eye catching objects when touring a brewery large or small – the process, the equipment, the finished products rolling off the manufacturing line – try to train your eye to see the small details as well. Look for textures in raw ingredients, or the play of light off small control valves. All are rich in photographic potential and unique to the venue you are in.
And don’t forget the food
I really should add a fourth category in my passions bucket list – and that would be food. Beer and food are kindred souls – which is why so many brewery tours end in tasting rooms that also offer a wide selection of beer themed, beer based, or beer compatible nibbles to eat and photograph while sipping a lager and thumbing through the great images you just took.
So the next time you are planning a trip around the corner or around the world, don’t forget to seek out and visit some of the fascinating craft breweries in the area. You are sure to see some great sights – and try some great beers! And don’t forget your camera – great shots are also there for the taking.
All images copyright Karen Foley via Dreamstime Stock Photography.
Karen Foley is a freelance photographer with a passion for her craft – and for craft beers! See more of her work at karenfoleyphotography.com.
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