Today is International Beer Day, and Holland America Line has expertly crafted shore excursions around the world that show off the best brews — from Japan to Australia, Belgium to Oregon. The names you know like Guinness take center stage, but those who love the beverage will take delight in learning about the lesser known craft beers and local breweries that produce some of the most unique and tasty creations. Cheers to International Beer Day and these tours that introduce our guests to a wide world of beer.
Astoria Ale Trail: In Partnership with Food & Wine Magazine
Widely recognized as the top producer of craft beers in the country, Oregon has made a name for itself with the number of high-quality breweries popping up both in Portland and across the state. Sit back, relax, and take in the stunning views of the Columbia River as you pass through the town of Astoria on your way to sampling Oregon’s finest ales.
Visit Fort George Brewery & Public House, established in 2007 and specializing in innovative and exciting flavors such as coffee stout and wasabi-flavored ginger ale. You might want to try the Quick Wit — a Belgian-style ale that’s made with organic pale and wheat malts, ground coriander and lemongrass.
You’ll also stop at Rogue Ales, occupying a retired tuna cannery. Rogue sits on the Astoria Riverwalk – a five-mile trail that’s lined with hotels, restaurants, parks and a nearly 100-year-old restored trolley train. Made with the finest hops and barley malt, their ales are bottled using an oxygen-absorbing cap and brown glass for a better shelf-life. Among the barrel-aged brews is Chipotle Ale — a golden ale made with roasted chipotle peppers. It produces an eye-opening chili flavor with a malty, smoky aroma and smooth, crisp flavor. We double dare you!
The Wet Dog — so much more inviting than it sounds — is a microbrewery where a variety of beers are handcrafted using a wide range of hops and grains to generate unique flavors. The pub’s riverfront deck offers a fantastic view of the Columbia River. Try the Strawberry Blonde — a beer that attributes its light pink hue to the 90 pounds of strawberries used in the brewing process.
Aoshima & Shouchu Brewery
Aburatsu, Miyazaki, Japan
A panoramic drive brings you to Aoshima. Ao means blue or green and shima means island. Just under a mile in circumference; it is connected by bridge to the mainland. Pristine beaches and the unusual Onino Sentakuita (the Devil’s Washboard) rock formations make it a National Natural Monument. The only structure on the island is the Aoshima Shrine, believed to date back to the 9th century Heian Period.
Head to the Shouchu Brewery. Shochu is a very popular beverage in Japan, similar to the rice wine called sake. A brewery tour introduces you to this local beverage and explains the distilling process. A tasting concludes the experience.
Bruges & A Taste of Belgian Beer
Zeebrugge (Brussels), Belgium
There is no doubt that Belgium is a country of beer-lovers. How many other countries this size can boast more than 450 varieties of beer? The widely varying landscape produces a range of beers with contrasting tastes and flavors. Belgian brewing has kept pace with technology and produces beers that correspond to consumer demand while maintaining a traditional character and an array of beers that amazes visitors.
A 30-minute drive from the port brings you to Bruges. Set out on a walking tour of this medieval city that is even smaller than most Flemish cities. Follow your guide through the tiny streets, past ancient buildings, tree-lined canals and gabled façades. See the bustling marketplace, Belfry Tower, the Town Hall and the Chapel of the Holy Blood.
Step inside a local café to hear about Belgian brewing and enjoy a beer-tasting session. A Belgian beer expert will explain the history of this country’s obsession with beer brewing. Together you will explore the delicious taste and flavors of four different kinds of beers.
Darwin Pub & Craft Beer
Venture to the Precinct Tavern — a favorite for visitors and locals alike. Sample a selection of four different craft beers. The selection may include the likes of James Squire’s 150 Lashes, a cloudy pale ale with hints of passionfruit, grapefruit and citrus, or perhaps the Feral Hop Hog, Matilda Bay Fat Yak, Mountain Goat Steam Ale or a Prickly Moses Summer Ale. Your taste buds will be delighted with a culinary treat of a canapé to accompany the beers. The publican host will then take you on a tour of the keg room. You’ll discover fascinating facts about craft brewers from all over Australia. Have a look behind the scenes and get a sneak peek into what happens on the other side of the bar. To finish, enjoy a glass of your choice of beer.
The Guinness Experience
On a panoramic orientation drive through Dublin you will see the Old Parliament House, Trinity College founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, and Merrion Square — one of Dublin’s grandest Georgian squares and now the address of the National Gallery of Ireland and the Irish Parliament. View Georgian Dublin, the National Gallery of Ireland and St Stephen’s Green. You’ll also pass Dublin Castle, City Hall and Christ Church Cathedral.
At the Guinness Storehouse Museum, The Guinness Experience tells a dramatic story that begins more than 250 years ago. Often surprising and always entertaining, the adventure starts the moment you walk through the door. As you make your way through the Storehouse Museum, you’ll discover what goes into making the ‘black stuff’ — the ingredients, the process, the passion. The tour ends at Gravity — the sky bar, where you will be treated to a pint of Guinness.
Craft Brewery Experience
Victoria’s craft beer scene is as vibrant as the city itself. Explore both on this fun-filled tour to three of the top local breweries where you’ll learn the brewing process and sample a variety of artisan recipes.
At the first stop, you’ll be treated to a behind-the-scenes VIP tour learning the process from grain to glass and the design secrets of the all-important label while interacting with the informative staff. Understanding the process and the beers’ origins, you’ll have a deeper appreciation of the finished product. These innovative breweries strike the perfect balance, producing both classic brews and creative batches. Sip your way through several varietals as you sample four craft beers at each brewery. At the completion of the tour, return to the pier with a first-hand knowledge of Victoria’s burgeoning craft beer scene.