Most popular brewery tours: What you see when big brands open their doors

Most popular brewery tours: What you see when big brands open their doors

Singapore's Tiger brewery is now open to visitors, joining the large number of beer makers offering an educational excuse to get tipsy

A cold bottle of Chang on a Thai beach.

A pint of Guinness in an Irish pub. 

For many travelers, swilling the local barley soda is just as important as sampling the national cuisine. 

For truly passionate beer geeks, brewery tours take that enjoyment to the next level.  

The latest big brand to open its brewery to tours is Singapore's Tiger Beer.

Here's a look at what beer drinkers can expect on a visit, as well as a run-down of some of the world's most popular brewery tours. 

Tiger Beer: Singapore 

As the popular slogan dictates, "It's Time for a Tiger." Earlier this month, Asia Pacific Breweries Singapore (APBS) launched its first Tiger Brewery Tour, a behind-the-scenes look at how the city's oldest locally brewed beer (first bottled in 1932) is concocted.

The tour includes stops at the Visitors Hall, where tourists get a crash course in Tiger's history, and the Ingredients Display Kiosk, which showcases the key ingredients that go into the beer brewing process. 

And much like a check-up at the urologist, visitors learn how un-sexy beer really is. At the Brew House, watch malt, hops, yeast and water get milled, mashed, boiled, fermented and filtrated. 

Capping it all off is a walk through the 18-meter long Packaging Gallery, which is shaped like a Tiger Beer bottle, and a visit to the souvenir-hawking Tiger Den. 

Admission: S$16 per person. www.tigerbrewerytour.com.sg


Guinness: Ireland

Life-long Guinness drinkers have been known to cry stout-laced tears of joy when reaching the hallowed St. James Gate. More famous than Michael Flatley, Colin Farrell and George Bernard Shaw combined, Guinness is Ireland's most loved export. 

Fans of the world-famous stout can witness brewing magic in action at Dublin's much-hyped Guinness Storehouse.

Suitably, the tour begins at the bottom of a giant pint glass that rises up through the centre of the seven-storey building. Master brewer Fergal Murray then shows visitors the Guinness brewing process, demonstrating how water, barley, hops and yeast are combined to create the stout many joke is thick enough to be considered a meal

Other exhibits highlight transportation methods, past advertising campaigns and sponsorship deals. There's also a lesson in how to pour your own perfect pint. (As if you don't already know.) 

End it all at the Gravity Bar, with its 360-degree views of Dublin. 

Admission: €12.96 per person, includes free pint of Guinness. www.guinness-storehouse.com


Budweiser: United States 

Visitors to the St. Louis Bevo Packaging Plant can act out their "Laverne and Shirley" fantasies as they check out the bottle lines. Maybe you watched your mom flaunt her new implants in a Budweiser bikini during that family trip to the Talladega Speedway. Or perhaps you kicked someone in the ankles after hearing them bellow "Whassup!!!!!" one too many times in 1999. 

Whether you love or loathe the self-declared "King of Beers," Budweiser -- thanks to its viral-before-we-used-the-word-viral media campaigns -- is arguably the world's most recognizable beer brand.  

Fans of the Anheuser-Busch lager can learn all about its history and brewing processes at five different United States breweries: St. Louis, Missouri; Fairfield, California; Fort Collins, Colorado; Jacksonville, Florida; and Merrimack, New Hampshire. 

Given not a single of these cities is a place most global travelers really have a reason to visit, the tours are generally only frequented by hardcore Bud fans and include "Beer School" educational sessions and "Beer Master" tours. 

Unlike the other tours on this list, Budweiser lets people into its brewery for free and hands out complimentary samples to over-21s. America the beautiful, indeed. 

www.budweisertours.com


Stella Artois: Belgium 

After one too many pints in Leuven, you might find yourself quoting Stanley Kowalski: "Stellllllla!!!!" Stella Artois might be one of Belgium's biggest multinational brands, but visitors can still check out where it's been brewed in the city of Leuven since 1366. 

One of the few breweries to recognize that some of us prefer to drink beer rather than learn every miniscule detail about how it's made, Stella Artois offers different tours for different levels of interest.  

The Stella Artois Classic Tour takes you from the brewing hall, through fermentation to the filling lines. After the tour, which takes about an hour, hit the brewery’s Den Thuis bar. 

The Stella Artois Beer Tour is far more in-depth, taking visitors through the different steps of the brewing process followed by a beer sampling session in the bar.  The Stella Artois Draught Tour also shows the various stages of the brewing process, but is followed by a draught course. 

Can't make it to Belgium? Try out their "Le Bar" augmented reality app that guides you to the nearest bar serving Stella Artois. 

Course prices and times vary, check out Stella's website for full details. www.breweryvisits.com


Heineken: Netherlands

These days, Heineken is made in more than 100 breweries all over the world. The original brewery has been turned into a museum. Right up there with the Van Gough Museum and coffee shops, the "Heineken Experience" is one of Amsterdam's most popular tourist attractions. 

Though it's not a working brewery anymore -- the company moved to a larger facility outside the city in 1988 -- the historic venue is still a cool place to check out if you're a fan of the internationally distributed Dutch pilsner.  

There are four levels of Heineken artifacts, high-tech exhibits, brewing demonstrations, interactive stations and beer samples. 

Though serious beer crafters will balk at certain aspects of the tour, like the 4D "Brew U" ride that lets you feel like you're being brewed and bottled, there are some educational portions too, including a demonstration on the right way to tap a beer. 

Admission: €17 per person. www.heinekenexperience.com


Carlsberg: Denmark

The brewery's Bar Jacobsen has more than 40 different Carlsberg products on sale. Though little beer is actually brewed here anymore, Denmark's big Old Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen is still open to fans who want to learn about the history of the pale ale. 

This one's a self-guided tour, so you can take things at your own pace. Displays at the historic brewery built in 1847 include the world's largest bottle collection and an aroma room where you can figure out your favorite smells and have a beer recommended in line with your tastes. 

Completely unrelated to beer drinking, there are a few extras on site like Carl Jacobsen's -- son of Carlsberg founder J.C. Jacobson -- personal collection of sculptures, including a Rodin and a small version of The Little Mermaid, from 1937.

Admission: 70 kroner per person. www.visitcarlsberg.dk

Have you been on a great brewery tour that's not on this list? Tell us about it in the comments box below.  

Karla is a digital producer with CNN Travel based in Bangkok, Thailand. 

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