An early entry for tomorrow's version of The Session as I am preparing to go on a special assignment. The Session is a monthly mass blog-in where folks around the globe face the same beery question and come up with a vast range of answers. The question this time as posed by Beer by Bart is actually pretty practical:
If you see the words “travel” and “beer” and instead of your best tourist sagas you think of work or logistics, we want to know your tips and strategies on the road. (Perhaps for getting prized bottles home.)
Tips? You want tips? Here are my best trip tips for the beer shopping wanderer:
- Travel with large numbers of non-drinkers and plan to stay over 48 hours out of Canada. That way you get all their duty free.
- Travel with kids. Lots of them. No one thinks you are a weirdo beer nerd if you show up with the kids. And the kids serve as a great excuse for an early exit if the beers or the staff are just not that interesting.
- Keep all your receipts, declare what you and be prepared to pay your taxes to the customs officers. Half the time they wave you through. Sometimes it works out like the time I had a load of Michigan brews and, when I declared I had 72 beer, the guy in the booth said "Oh, like three cases of Bud? Go on though." I likely had about $150 bucks in taxes payable on the Belgians and micros in the back of the van.
- Bring blankets. Even though you are going to openly declare the goods you are packing, you need to protect them from sudden temperature change. I wrap all the cases of beer with beach blankets to help them keep from any wild swings.
- Study up to plan your purchases. The BeerAdvocate's Beer Fly is a great resource for up to date information about what lays along your travel route. Another resource are regional guides like those written by Andy Crouch or Lew Bryson in my neck of the woods.
- Finally, let people know you are coming ahead of time and what you might want. I find many good shops are quite willing to bring in good stuff if they know you will buy it. And a brewery may also hold back a special bottle or two if they know you are coming through town and you have emailed a special request. You never know.
That's a good starting point. The best thing about being early is you get to provide all the obvious answers. I'll be interested to see what better tricks others think of now that they have to think harder about it than I did. And I was so positive. I didn't mention that really interesting post by Mr. Delia today entitled "Why I’m Finished With Beer Dinners" at all. Not once.