Geek Nation Tours is expanding into a new realm of geekery—beer! This August, Geek Nation will take you deep into to the American Midwest in search of some of the most highly praised breweries, and some of the most sought after beer, in the world.
This just so happens to coincide with one of the greatest events we humans are able to witness—a total solar eclipse. “The Great American Eclipse” as it’s been dubbed, is the first total solar eclipse to cross North America in decades and we will be there.
Leading the tour will be Kirk and Megan Zembal a couple with a wealth of beer and brewery knowledge gained from being, well, owners of a local craft brewery. With their help and connections Geek Nation Tours will bring you in as close as possible to the heart of the USA and its burgeoning craft beer scene.
We will fly into St. Louis, Missouri on the banks of the mighty Mississippi where you can find both the past and the future of brewing in the likes of the enormous Anheuser-Busch brewery and the magnificent Side Project Brewing and its famous sours. Not to mention Perennial and 4 hands & more.
Before we travel north into Wisconsin (New Glarus Brewing!) and Chicago (Three Floyds and many more!), we will take part in an experience that for most is literally a once-in-a-lifetime event—the total solar eclipse. We will be there with you – solar sunglasses and all.
Day 1 – Friday August 18th
We arrive in St Louis, Gateway to the West and immediately sit down for a welcome dinner at 4 Hands Brewing, which offers a great atmosphere as well as amazing beers. 4 Hands Brewing was one of the first in the area to master both kettle sours and barrel-aged beers, and if you’ve never had or heard about some of these beers styles, we’re here to show you the ropes. If you have – well, you know to expect mouthwatering tartness, juicy hoppiness and bold, chocolaty elixirs.
Day 2 – Saturday August 19th
Today we will have the first of many brewery tours! We will jump right into the world of beer, with visits to Perennial Artisan Ales and Side Project Brewing. Don’t take our word on how well received these breweries are. Check out Rate Beer, Beer Advocate and Untappd to see the well sung praises of these local leaders. Simply world-class taste that will not disappoint from Perennial’s big coffee stouts to Side Project’s utterly amazing spontaneously fermented sour ales and saisons.
Following our first stops is a visit to another personal favourite of Kirk’s, 2nd Shift Brewing with their famous Katy brettanomyces beer (don’t worry if you don’t know what that is, we’ll teach you about it!). We will then be off for some BBQ. St. Louis BBQ is a big thing for a reason and no visit to STMO would be complete without BBQ at Pappy’s Smokehouse. The big smokers outside give just a hint of what’s inside—think apple & cherry wood smoked ribs and just about anything else that can be smoked.
Day 3 – Sunday August 20st
Today we will give you a free day to rest up and explore this lovely city. There are a tonne of local breweries and a variety of local sites and scenes you can check out. We will be happy to give you suggestions and to guide you to some favorite spots.
Later in the day we will head to the historic and towering Anheuser-Busch brewery to see the scale and speed of a world-scale brewery and packaging line. After tours of the smaller craft breweries, prepare to be blown away by the size and scale of their operation as tour inside the belly of the beast.
We will cap this day off with a great team outing: a few trips around the local go-cart track where you can race your new friends and enjoy a fun night out as we prepare for the next day’s big event…
Day 4 – Monday August 21nd
This is a day that some have been looking forward to for decades. A total solar eclipse has been described in breathless terms as being a signature moment in a life.
We will travel from St Louis in whatever direction the weather dictates to chase that moment of a lifetime. We’ve heard that words cannot describe the experience so we won’t even try. Instead, we will just get you there any way we can, and let you experience it for yourselves. Be prepared though, because at high noon we will witness a hair-raising and singular event. We will see the sky turn dark as the total eclipse passes before us. GNT will even provide you with cool eclipse glasses so you get the best of views….
Day 5 – Tuesday August 22rd
Today we will head north to a state that is not as well-tread: Wisconsin. There, a local beer economy has thrived for years, and world-class beers are being produced and in many cases expressly not shipped beyond Wisconsin’s borders.
We will visit and stay in a town that is self-described as having “more fine dining, fun-filled bars, golf courses, sausages, yummy bakery items, cheese, and AWESOME beer (per capita) than any other place on Earth.” We will stay the night in this Swiss-influenced town and will savor all they have to offer including its eponymous New Glarus Brewing knowing we may not get the chance to do so until the next time we find ourselves in the lovely state of WI.
Day 6 – Wednesday August 23th
Since we’re already in Wisconsin, the land of beer, we just have to make our way to Milwaukee, stopping at a couple Madison-area breweries including Tyrarena & Funk Factory Geuzeria – home to some very impressive sour beers. While in Milwaukee, we will have a tour at the old and funky Pabst Brewery and see what made Milwaukee the Beer Capital of the World (also the home of Lavern and Shirley btw) and now the home of many other innovative craft breweries. Plus you really have to try the fried cheese curds at Lakefront Brewing! If you haven’t had this yet, just wait, they are a Midwest delicacy that is a cheesy, greasy treat that you won’t soon forget.
Day 7 –Thursday August 24th
We will make our way down the road to the great city of Chicago. You can find almost anything in Chi-town but we will again be on the hunt for beer. This day will feature an educational nugget: a sensory tasting panel with help from the Siebel Institute – a premier brewing school. Here we will refine our palates and learn to pick out flavours that arise in the brewing process, how those flavors relate to the brewing process, and whether those flavours were intended or not. This will help develop our knowledge of brewing and help us understand the beers we drink as we head into another few full days of beer tasting.
Then, as a cherry on top of this day, we will take a trip to Munster, Indiana to sample the pride of Munster—Three Floyds Brewing. Home of Dark Lord, Dreadnaught and many other phenomenal beers this perennially highly-ranked brewery will not disappoint with its bold and powerful taste.
Day 8 – Friday August 25th
Another full day of brewery tours as we journey to the Half Acre, Pipe Works/Off-Color , and Revolution breweries. We will get to see the different stages and sizes of craft breweries today. Each one has a different take on craft beer, from the hop-bombs to the fruity Belgian-style beers to the out-there experimentals. With the knowledge we’ve gained throughout the trip we should be able to appreciate each for what they do and how they do it. This will be a good chance to continue to stock up on bottles to bring back home to your cellars.
Day 9 – Saturday August 26th
Today will be a free day to explore Chicagoland followed by a great tradition: the last-night bottle share. We will join together and share some of the beer we’ve collected along the way at breweries and bottle shops. A chance to reflect and really appreciate the places we’ve been and the great beers we’ve drunk thus far with perhaps the most famous of Chicago meals – deep dish pizza
Day 10 – Sunday August 27th
All things come to an end and today we will fly home with all your new beer! Perhaps to share with a friend or keep hidden in your private cellar…
NOTE: Attendance of all special guests and celebrities is subject to change due to scheduling conflicts and professional obligations.
What is included: All hotel nights and taxes, 5 dinners, 7 lunches and most breakfasts including Welcome and Farewell Dinner, All brewery tours, Transfers and event access… Solar Sun Glasses and GNT tour shirt.
Single Supplement: For those that would like a room to themselves we offer a single supplement for an additional $1100.00 USD.
Don’t have a friend to get the double occupancy rate? That is what Geek Nation Tours does. Book as a double occupancy and we will match you up a roommate… This way you get the best of both worlds – someone to BS about the con with – and more cash to spend!
Final: Final due upon upon booking
Non-Geek Spousal Argument: “I know you like beer too plus they have Great Non-Geek Spouse tours too…..take a look at this! ”
Photo credit: White Light Corona Credits: M. Druckmüller – NASA