Recently I've been on the road for business and of course wanted to try some of the local beer fare. While I knew I would have a limited amount of time available to sample new beer (I do have to work sometime) I want to try as many as possible.
During the two trips I was able to try many new beers. Here are some rules I've found useful.
Do your Homework
There many sources of information about the places you will be traveling and your beer options. Try some of these: Google Local, Yelp, RateBeer Places and Beer Advocate all have information you may find useful in your efficient beer acquisitions.
You probably have some beer geek friends that may be knowledgable of local breweries and beers. The above "Do Your Homework" sources can also provide an important source of local information.
Take the Flight
Flights are often served on paddles but sometimes on mats that serve to align the beer samples for identification or sometimes even descriptions. I've seen flights delivered on free form fashion using some interesting piece of wood to hold the beer glasses.
During my recent two trips I enjoyed three different flights - 16 new beers in all over three different breweries. Usually this will lead to the single beer I want to have with my meal or simply want a more complete tasting and will order a pint.
Ask for Samples
While testing some local beer during a trip to Milwaukee, I stopped in at the Milwaukee Ale House. I know a bit about the German style smoke beer, rauchbier, but not so sure I like it, so I asked for a sample. Most bar-keeps are glad to offer you a small pour. Don't be afraid to ask, it builds report and demonstrates your curiosity.
In all, over the course of two weeks I was able to add 31 new beers to my repertoire. New beers, new breweries, new experiences. It takes some effort but oh so worth it.
Find what is available near where you'll be staying. Good info sources include Untappd and Beer Advocate Forums. If you will have to walk to a local brewery print out a map or use your phones GPS to map and guide your path.If you use Twitter, Facebook or other social media programs, ask locals what they like.
While traveling on business I'd learned that the person setting next to me was from the town I would be the next week. So I'd asked him his opinion. He told me this brother was the local beer expert. A few days later I received some recommendations. Nothing beats local experience. While at a new brewery my first choice is often getting the sampler, better known in beer vernacular as the "flight" or "paddle". The flight is usually made up of four to six of the beers on tap. Each sample is about four or five ounces, poured into smaller glassware made just for this purpose. Most of the time you can choose the beer but sometimes the establishment will have an arranged flight, for example a Spring sampler. This may not always work but is worth the effort. At one brew pub, after finishing my flight, there was one more beer I wanted to try - and so I asked for a sample. I was cheerfully offered a two-ounce pour of a german style (rauch is german for smoke). It had an interesting flavor, very smokey, but not one that I would enjoy a full pint. So I had a pint of my favorite from the flight.
Our group had booked a room just to serve as a hospitality room for the time we where there. Our local host was going to make a beer run and I volunteered to assist. Of course I pulled out my iPhone loaded with apps to assist with beer choices (a future log for Deep Beer) and found some good options. So that would add another three new beers to the list. Score!
Addendum: During a recent trip to the local brewery, Burley Oak in Berlin, MD, I discovered that they did flights in a somewhat unique way - carte blanche. Each tasting was about a four ounce pour - each for two dollars. That way you could try all you wanted and no more. My fellow tasters and I had probably four tastings maybe five, but that was enough.