As The Bard once said, "a quart of ale is a dish for a king." There's never a "best time of year" to enjoy a beer, but there is something about autumn that inspires the pining for a crisp pint of brew. Although there are plenty of Oktoberfest celebrations that your Homer Simpson-esque clients can attend this month, where are you going to send them once the once-a-year festivals come to an end? With that in mind, we'd like to share TripAdvisor's top 10 brewery tours in the United States. Lager-lovers with a thirst for knowledge and an appetite for ale will be in their element at these establishments, which offer them the opportunity to sample tasty brews, while soaking up the sudsy surroundings. Just remind them to establish a designated driver before making the trip.
1. Beechwood Best: Anheuser Busch Brewery Tour, Saint Louis
In addition to offering free tours that take in the legendary Budweiser Clydesdale Stable, Beechwood Lager Cellars and historic Brew House, true hop-enthusiasts can also opt for the more exclusive "Beermaster Tour." This behind-the-scenes look at the brewing of Budweiser even offers travelers the opportunity to taste samples directly from a finishing tank. Tour tickets are $25 for over-21 year-olds and $10 for 13- 20 year-olds.
2. Revolutionary Pour: Samuel Adams Brewery, Boston
All of the senses are put to good use on this hour-long tour, as travelers taste their way through the special malts used to brew Samuel Adams beer, smell the hops and discover the secrets of the entire brewing process – from start to finish. Tours run every 45 minutes or so and are free of charge, although a voluntary donation of $2 is suggested, with all proceeds going to local charities.
3. Rocky Mountain Merriment: Coors Brewery, Golden, Colorado
Founded in 1873, Coors' Golden operation is today the largest single-site brewery in the world. Visitors can enjoy a complimentary, 30-minute self-guided tour of some of the site's highlights, accompanied by an audio device which details the malting, brewing and packaging processes. Once the walking is done, thirsty travelers can cool off in the "fresh beer room," and sip a cold sample while resting on ice-cube benches in a refrigerated room.
4. Waterside Libations: Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee
Founded in 1987, Lakefront Brewery believes there is a direct correlation between attention span on beer tours and drinking beer. As a result, travelers visiting this inventive microbrewery can expect to sample an array of brews right from the get-go, including what was the first beer to be certified organic in the U.S. Tour tickets are $7 and include a souvenir pint glass, four pours of beer and a coupon for a complimentary beverage.
5. Beer on the Banks: Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Boasting a picturesque riverside-setting, travelers visiting this old-world Germanic brewery can enjoy spectacular scenery and award-winning flavors. Free tours take in the history of the company, which dates back over 140 years and has been led by five generations of Leinenkugels, in addition to the brewing process. Travelers can round off their visit at the historic sampling bar, or enjoy an al fresco taste on the covered patio.
6. Rocking Refreshments: Stone Brewery, Escondido, California
Travelers seeking a thirst-quenching experience just north of San Diego can enjoy a complimentary, 45-minute guided tour of Stone Brewery – a 55,000 square foot working brewery, founded in 1996. After a journey to the heart of the operation to learn about the craft brewing industry, visitors are invited to participate in a guided tasting of a selection of year-round and special releases.
7. Hop-Filled Flavors: Terrapin Brew Company, Athens, Georgia
For travelers seeking to soak up some sweet sounds with their cold brews, Terrapin Brew Company offers live music and a festive atmosphere. The brewery, which introduced its first beer in 2002, runs educational tours and tastings Thursday through Saturday evenings, offering visitors a sneak-peek at the 40,000 square foot brewing facilities. Entry is $10 and includes a souvenir pint glass and tasting tickets.
Stone Brewery, Escondido, California
8. Mass Malts: Harpoon Brewery/Mass Bay Brewing Co., Boston
Located within minutes of downtown Boston, travelers visiting this historic city can add extra flavor to their trip with a hop-tastic tour of Harpoon Brewery. Complimentary weekday tastings are held in the Tasting Room, overlooking the brewery – while weekend tours, conducted when Harpoon is not brewing or packaging beer, give beer-lovers the opportunity to join a guided walk through the brewery. Tour tickets are $5 and include a glass and tasting.
9. Delicious Draughts: New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colorado
Boasting a Belgian brewmaster, New Belgium Brewing adds a dash of continental flair to Fort Collins. Free tours, which operate Tuesday through Saturday, offer visitors a 90-minute tasting and a stroll around the brewery, which has been creating imaginative blends since 1991. Seven years later, the operation became the first wind-powered brewery in the U.S. – and with sustainability integral to the company, this is an interesting spot for "green" travelers.
10. Froth-Filled Fun: Boulevard Brewing Company , Kansas City, Missouri
No one wants to get left out in the cold, when there's beer to sample – so TripAdvisor travelers recommend booking a free tour of the largest specialty brewery in the Midwest, plenty of time in advance. After taking in the sights and soaking up Boulevard's history on a 45-minute, guided walk-through, visitors can enjoy a tasting of an array of beers, including seasonal specialties and year-round brews.