Defining Your Ex-beer-ience

We welcome our good friend, fellow beer traveler and 2008
Beerdrinker of the Year Matt Venzke as our first guest contributor.

So, Chris and Merideth have both visited their 500th breweries! Wow! What an amazing testimony to their love of beer! And an achievement that makes me jealous!

We both agreed that Ironworks Brewery in Lakewood, Colorado counted
We both agreed that Ironworks Brewery in Lakewood, Colorado "counted"

I should explain that the friendship my wife Michelle and I share with Chris and Merideth began (and we became huge fans of thebeergeek.com) because they count the breweries they visit. We do, too! Combine that with that fact that we’re also both ardent travelers and childless dog lovers, and you can understand why we shared an instant camaraderie when we first met in person. Since then, we’ve lived vicariously through their experiences while having the good fortune of joining them on an adventure or two.

When we first met, my brewery count was actually higher than Chris and Merideth’s. In relatively quick order, however, it became quite clear that they’d both surpass me, which they did earlier this year. But as we spent more time together and compared notes on our brewery lists, we started discussing the “rules” of how we count our breweries.

I think we both agree on the fundamentals — count a visit to any location that brews beer commercially, whether large or small, with or without a tasting room, industrial or brewpub.

Although Chris downed the sampler at Southern Sun in Boulder, would he count it?  Although its a separate brewing location, its the same company (and some beers) as Mountain Sun across town.
Although Chris downed the sampler at Southern Sun in Boulder, would he count it? Although it's a separate brewing location, it's the same company (and some beers) as Mountain Sun across town.

But we realized our individual “rule books” have at least one key difference: Chris and Merideth will not count visits to multiple locations of the same brewing company. I, on the other hand, don’t care if a company has 15 breweries. I’ll count a visit to any of them, as long as they brew beer at that location. As of press time, I consider my brewery count to be 475 (in 39 states and 17 countries). But if I applied this Nelson rule, I’m actually only at about 463.

And here’s some other interesting questions of rules:

  • Do you have to set foot in the actual brewery? If the brewery proper isn’t open to the public, but they operate an exclusive taproom or visitor center elsewhere, I’ll count it as a visit. Chris and Merideth won’t.
  • Do you have to actually go in the brewery to count it?  What if it’s not open? I only count it if I enter the premises. Chris and Merideth … I’m not sure.  (Editor’s note: Chris and Merideth agree with Matt: a brewery counts on the list only if they enter the premises.)
  • Do you have to drink a beer at the brewery for it to count?  Obviously you’d want to. But I’ve also been to a handful of breweries that lacked a tasting room or bar and therefore didn’t have a chance to sample the product. I still count it.

Will their 500 brewery achievement inspire you to follow in their footsteps?  Is their on-going quest a model for yours? How do YOU define YOUR love of beer or measure YOUR life ex-beer-ience?

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