If you're a craft beer geek, you've probably dreamed about quitting your job at some point and taking off on an epic brewery road trip across country. While you'll probably never indulge this fantasy, it's fun to think about. But where would you begin? With over 3,000 craft breweries in the United States, it would be impossible to visit them all. Luckily, Nathan Yau came up with the ultimate brewery road trip map across America to prioritize your desires and published it on Flowing Data.
In true beer lover fashion, the map had to be concisely planned out. Using a combination of RateBeer's best breweries in the United States - there's 72 - and Randal Olson's method of using genetic algorithms and Google Maps API, then taking into consideration the least amount of travel time, this Holy Grail of breweries map was born. This is the craft beer version of the Kentucky bourbon trail.
From New England to the Pacific Northwest, the best beers at these breweries are must-tries before you die and this isn't a bad way to start the trip. After all, how can you truly appreciate great American beer without checking out the local craft beer scene on this brew trail.
You may have noticed the two breweries left out of this map were Evil Twin and Anchorage Brewing Company. While both are certainly worthy of a visit, Evil Twin is technically brewed at ten different breweries, and Anchorage is in, well, Alaska - trying to be practical here. And although Clown Shoes in Ipswich, Massachusetts and The Alchemist in Waterbury, Vermont aren't open to the public for brewery tours, one can dream can't they?
Michigan may be a bit out of the way, but not visiting Founders along this pilgrimage is blasphemy. Especially if you live nowhere near Grand Rapids, Michigan. And since I don't, it's certainly on the bucket list. So is Three Floyds and Surly.
Having had the pleasure of doing a West Ccoast brewery road trip and an East Coast brewery road trip, I've crossied a good amount of these off my bucket list. And I have to tell you, Maine Beer Co., Russian River, and Allagash are not to be missed. Well, really any of them are not to be missed.
Between the 70 breweries located in 28 states, you'll hit up 40 states in total. I'm sure that in the other 12 states you'll find some excellent brew pubs or breweries that weren't on the list, considering there's over 1,400 of them en route. There is one state missing from this road trip, though, and it is Texas. For a state that took home the third most medals at Great American Beer Festival 2017, it's puzzling that none of the prized Texas breweries made the list, not even Spoetzl Brewery, the home of Shiner.
And if no brewery is around, you can at least attempt to hit up some national parks with their matching beer for some more exploration. With about 197 hours of driving time and 12,299 miles on the speedometer, if you spend your time well you can accomplish the map in about twenty days.
Of course, along the way you could improvise and add a few more breweries worthy of a visit. Say, Jester King in the Texas Hill Country and Modern Times in San Diego anyone? That's just my opinion, but it's your trip. Let the map be your guide and wonder at your own will.
Watch: The 5 Most Creative Beer Names from Texas Craft Beer Fest