While traveling, the best way to really appreciate a beer or a brewery is to grab a pint in the taproom. Not only do you get the full experience of the brewery atmosphere, but this usually includes some great conversations with locals or people who are passionate about beer. That being said, a brewery visit may not always be an option for you; whether its due to your budget, timing, parking, schedule, etc. The next best way to appreciate local beers is to make your own 6-pack!
For those of you that have never heard of the phrase, “make your own 6-pack” essentially it means you buy beers individually instead of a 6-pack of a single type of beer. Typically, shops that allow this will encourage you to buy 6 individual beers in order to complete your own eclectic mix of a 6-pack (most likely for inventory reasons).
Why I love to make my own 6-pack: when I am in a new area it is typically overwhelming how many local beers are available. I can’t help but want to try them all. Instead of having to buy a whole bunch of 6-packs of different beers, I can simply just buy six different cans/bottles that range in breweries and styles. Plus, not having to commit to six cans of one specific beer allows me to try out a whole range of new beer styles knowing that if I do not like it I only have one can of it. Also, the variety. I mean, “beer flights” at bars were invented because everyone just wants to try a bunch of different beers. What better way than to make your own 6-pack?!
A great example is a time I was passing through Flagstaff, AZ. Flagstaff (or just “Flag”) has some of the best breweries in Arizona. Knowing this, I made an effort to stop by a local beer store in order to try as many beers as possible. However, the shelves were packed with 6 or 12 packs, and no cans for individual sale. After asking around, I was able to find a liquor store that had a decent “make your own 6-pack” fridge/shelf. I grabbed 2 beers from every local brewery I could (not all local breweries distributed their beer) and left the store with a bunch of local beers that ranged from Kolchs’ to Double Black IPAs.
Finding a place that allows you to make your own 6-pack can be tricky sometimes. While most grocery store chains allow this, their selection is usually sub-par. My two favorite grocery stores for this are Trader Joe’s and Whole Food’s, which I explain in these articles here and here. However, some cities have some phenomenal bottle shops that pride themselves on selling beers individually. Or even some liquor stores allow it even though they don’t advertise it, you just gotta ask! Your best bet is to spend a couple minutes on google to find best shop or just ask around. I have gone into liquor stores and asked where I can buy individual beers and they have directed me to the beer store down the road.
Making my own 6-pack has been key to my success of trying local beers on the road. While visiting a taproom should always be option #1, a great alternative can be to check out that local bottle shop to bring some local beers home with you.
Check out @SunnySideUpTraveling for more beer and travel tips, as well as Brewery Talks Podcast for the story behind the beer of this country! Cheers!