Touring Tastebuds: 10 Famous Brewery Tours in America

America has a lot to offer when it comes to great brews. Small, independent microbreweries and large-scale production houses all welcome visitors to tour their facilities and learn about the process that goes into making their beer. On these brewery tours, you will be given a unique opportunity to try new brews and explore the world of beer-making.

General Tips for Taking a Brewery Tour

Before you embark on your tour, there’s a few general rules that you should follow while you’re there. First off, don’t wear any open-toed shoes, or you’ll probably be denied access to the fun parts of the tour. Also, and this should be common sense, don’t touch anything or wander away from the rest of the group. This is for your own safety, as well as the integrity of the equipment. Don’t be that guy. And finally, listen to the tour guide. He’s telling you about his passion and giving you the opportunity to learn about the beer they are making for you to enjoy. Take it in, ask a lot of questions, learn as much as you can, then sit back and enjoy your tasty sample.

So, in no particular order, here is our list of the best brewery tours in America.

1. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company   (Chico, CA)

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company

At the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico, California, you can enjoy a variety of craft brews while touring this popular brewery. The tour takes you through all the stages of brewing beer. See and smell fresh hops and witness the fermentation process. After the tour, enjoy samples of famous beers sold by the brewery. If you are hungry for more, stop by the restaurant for a hearty meal. If you do, be sure to ask about pairing different beers with the restaurant dishes to find a brew that complements your menu choice.

2. Saint Arnold Brewing Company   (Houston, TX)

Saint Arnold Brewing Co.

To tour the oldest craft brewery in Texas, you’d have to travel down to Houston and visit Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Since 1994, Saint Arnold has been brewing their beer in Houston, making them the first microbrewery in the Bayou City. Over the last couple of decades, the Saint Arnold Brewery has managed to create a passionate following of beer enthusiasts. For $8 a person, you can tour the Saint Arnold brewery six days a week, plus receive a free souvenir tasting glass with every admission. While the Saturday tour lasts longer, it’s also more crowded. We would recommend going during the week, as you will have a better opportunity to tour the facility and talk with the brew crew. Be sure to get there early, as the brewery is known to hit its capacity pretty quickly.

3. Samuel Adams Brewery   (Boston, MA)

Samuel Adams Brewery

Founded in 1984, Samuel Adams Brewery exists because flavorful beer was hard to come by at that time. The success of the brewery was all due to a family beer recipe that dated back to the 1870′s, plus a lot of hard work from the great-great grandson of the man that came up with the recipe. Almost thirty years later, that same recipe, what we now know as Samuel Adams Boston Lager, is sold all over America and over twenty countries. There is simply no “Best Brewery Tour List” that does not contain Samuel Adams. Tours of the brewery start every 45 minutes, Monday through Saturday. Unless you have a large group, Samuel Adams Brewery does not take reservations. Because of this, it is wise to show up very early, especially on Saturdays. During your brewery tour, you’ll learn all about the craft brewing process, the history of Samuel Adams and taste a couple of their brews. This is a must-see brewery tour for every beer geek.

4. Live Oak Brewing Company   (Austin, TX)

Live Oak Brewery

Located in the heart of Texas, Live Oak Brewing Company is a small microbrewery located in Austin, TX. This brewery is unlike all others on this list, because they utilize an “old-world style of brewing” that you hardly find in the United States today. Founded by two homebrewers in Austin, Live Oak Brewing creates some very tasty beer, in very limited quantities. Brewery tours can be somewhat tricky to get into, but absolutely worth the effort if you can pull it off. In order to get in on this free tour, you gotta keep a close eye on their website. They will announce when their upcoming tours are, and then post a “reservation link” at 8am the Thursday before the tour date. If you can’t get in for a tour, they do offer a free ‘virtual tour’ on their website.

5. Deschutes Brewery   (Bend, OR)

Deschutes Brewery

Founded in 1988 as a tiny brew pub in downtown Bend, Oregon, the Deschutes Brewery has since grown into one of the most popular craft brewers in America. Five years after opening the brew pub, Deschutes moved into a large brewery along the Deschutes River in order to meet the high demand for their brew. Brewery tours are free and depart on the hour, every hour between 1-4pm. However, it’s wise to get there early because only fifteen people are allowed to go on each guided tour. This means that only sixty people a day will get to walk through and fully experience the brewery. Don’t fret if you can’t get in, as beer tastings still happen whether you make it into the brewery tour or not. You also have the opportunity to waste a lot of time – and money – in their gift shop.

6. Stone Brewing Co.   (Escondido, CA)

Stone Brewing Company

While visiting the Golden State, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t stop by Stone Brewing Company in Escondido. Famous for its bold, hoppy beers, this brewery is easily one of the most unique tours you can take. But make sure you get there early, as the tours usually sell out rather quickly and are limited to only 25 people at a time. Tours only cost $3 for adults and come with a free tasting glass and four 4oz beers of your choice. There’s a wide range of public tour times that stretch over all seven days of the week. But, if you’re looking for the full ‘Stone experience’, you would be better served booking a private tour through their website. The outdoor garden, featuring waterfalls, vegetation and rock formations, creates a unique atmosphere to relax and enjoy a great-tasting brew!

7. Magic Hat Brewing Co.   (South Burlington, VT)

Magic Hat Brewing Co.

In the cozy little town of South Burlington, Vermont, the Magic Hat Brewing Co. has been attracting beer enthusiasts with its creative brews and fun ambiance since 1994. Tours of the “Artifactory” are free and no reservations are required, but the hours may vary depending on whether it’s summer or winter, so be sure to check out their website. At the bar, you have the option to choose from 48 brews on tap, including their year-round favorites, rotating seasonal brews and maybe even a few experimental brews.

8. New Belgium Brewing Company   (Fort Collins, CO)

New Belgium Brewing Company

If you ever find yourself in Fort Collins, Colorado, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t stop by and visit the New Belgium Brewing Company. Officially launched in 1991, this brewery has become so popular that they now distribute in 34 states, and they recently confirmed that they’ll be distributing in Ohio soon. If you want to take a brewery tour, you’re going to need to book it far in advance. To do this, just log onto their website and check out their tour calender. Brewery tours happen Tuesday through Saturday and depart every half hour starting at 11am, with the last one departing at 4:30pm. The tours are free, open to all ages and generally last about 90 minutes. During your tour you will be able to sample the tasty beer.

9. Brooklyn Brewery   (Brooklyn, NY)

Brooklyn Brewery

Since its founding in the late eighties, the Brooklyn Brewery has been brewing some of the most flavorful beer in the Big Apple. In fact, over the last couple of decades, beer enthusiasts across America have discovered how tasty their beer really is, which is why the Brooklyn Brewery now distributes its beer in over 25 states, as well as 20 countries. The brewery offers tours every day of the week except Fridays, however if you plan on dropping by Monday-Thursday, you will need to make a reservation online and pay $8 to get in. On the weekends, the brewery is open to the public with no admission fee, with tours starting on the hour throughout most of the day. No trip to NYC is complete, without checking out this brewery.

10. Dogfish Head Brewery   (Milton, DE)

Dogfish Head Brewery

Founded in 1995, the Dogfish Head Brewery is a wildly popular brewery in Milton, Deleware that was once deemed “America’s most interesting and adventurous small brewery” by one of the world’s most respected beer writers. To take a guided tour of this brewery, you need to reserve your tickets online. They allow walk-ins, but only if there are spots available. They offer tours every half hour from Tuesday to Saturday. The tour times range based on the day, but Dogfish offers tours from 11am-4pm during those days.

We realize that everybody reading this is going to have a brewery that they think should be on the list. The truth is, there are a ton of great brewery tours out there, and if you’re given the opportunity to tour a facility that is not on this list, then you should jump at it.

Brewery tours are increasingly popular as more and more breweries cater to visitors and tourists. Easy access, free tours and on-site dining opportunities entice visitors to linger and explore. Of course, many beer fans end the day by stocking up on their favorite brews or buying a souvenir t-shirt. No matter how you celebrate your brewery trip, just enjoy yourself while you’re there.

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10 Types of Beer Glasses to Complement Your Beer

Every beer geek I know has their own collection of pint glasses sitting at their house. Whether they stole them from bars they’ve visited over the years or bought them online, their collection of pint glasses is always growing. But, there are many types of beer glasses besides the pint. And even then, there are a couple different styles of pint glasses. While it may be the most popular beer glass in America today, the pint wasn’t always the chosen one.

There is a wide variety of beer glassware available for you to choose from, and they each have their own unique characteristics. In fact, some glassware is designed specifically to help preserve the foam head of your beer, while others are designed to help enhance the colors of your brew. It’s important to remember that it’s more than just a glass that holds your beer; it’s a delivery mechanism that brings out the unique flavors, colors and aroma of your favorite beer. The type of glass you use has the ability to make or break your overall experience.

Let’s take a look at the most common types of beer glasses, and what they mean for you and your favorite beer.

Pint Glasses

Pint Glass

While there are multiple kinds of pint glasses, the American pint glass is probably the most common glass for beer, in the United States at least. This is the glass that you will likely be served in a bar or restaurant. The American Pint Glass, sometimes called a Shaker glass, has a simple and somewhat skinny cylindrical shape that gets wider as it goes up. This type of pint glass typically holds 16 oz. and is common to use with most type of beers, including ales, IPAs, stouts and lagers.

The English pint glass, also commonly referred to as an Imperial or Nonic glass, is shaped much like the American pint, but has a slight lip near the top. The English pint also holds 20 oz. and is usually preferred for drinking English ales and lagers.

This type of glassware is cheap to manufacture, cheap to buy and easy to drink out of. Bars love to stock the pint glass because they’re easy to clean and simple to stack. All of which is probably why it’s the go-to glassware for most beer enthusiasts.

Beer Mugs

Beer Mug

The beer mug is my personal favorite, because it’s incredibly robust, easy to use and holds a lot of beer. Common in England, Germany and the United States, this type of beer glass comes in all sizes. Its main characteristic is its wide cylindrical shape with a handle on the side. The thick glass walls helps insulate your brew to keep it cool, while the handle helps prevent your hands from inadvertently warming up your beer (or dropping it when you’ve had too many).

Sometimes beer mugs will have dimples throughout the glass. While most believe this is merely for decorative purposes, others argue that the dimples help a drinker appreciate the overall color and clarity of their beer. No matter what you believe, there’s no denying the popularity of this beer glass. They’re easy to use, strong enough to toast your friends in a hearty manner, and it holds plenty of beer!

Beer Steins

Beer Stein

The beer stein is very similar to the mug. In fact, so common that these two types of beer glasses are often confused as the same, but they are not. While they have the same shape, steins come equipped with a hinged lid and a lever for your thumb to open said lid easily. Additionally, steins are traditionally made out of a wider variety of materials, including porcelain, stoneware, pewter, silver and wood.

’Stein’ is an abbreviated form of Steinzeugkrug, the German word for stoneware jug or tankard. Historically, steins were preferred because it was widely believed the lids were more sanitary and would ultimately prevent the bubonic plague. In fact, in the early 16th century many communities throughout Europe had passed laws requiring food and beverage containers have lids.

While beer steins are still commonly used today, they are mostly regarded as ornamental or souvenir glassware amongst the majority of beer drinkers. Most people prefer the convenience of a pint glass, over the traditions of a stein.

Goblets & Chalices

Beer Goblet

Goblets are one of the larger, more extravagant types of glassware that beer drinkers come across. Unlike pint glasses that hold a specified amount of liquid, goblets can be found in a variety of sizes. Goblets can be described as having a long thick stem, with a bowl sitting on top. Chalices are another common name for goblets, as they have the same shape. Chalices usually have thicker glass walls and may be heavier. You may find some goblets and chalices even have a gold or silver rim. This is merely decorative and serves no real purpose in terms of improving the quality of beer.

Goblets and chalices are great choices for heavy, malty beers, such as Belgian ales and german bocks. This type of glassware has a wide opening that assists a beer drinker in analyzing the overall flavor profile and aromas.

Pilsner Glasses

Pilsner Glass

This type of beer glass is tall and skinny with little-to-no curvatures as it goes up. The pilsner glass is designed and used primarily for lighter beers, such as pilsners, of course.

Typically, there are a variety of sizes of pilsner glasses, but for the most part they all hold slightly less beer than a pint glass. The slender design allows drinkers to appreciate the colors and carbonation bubbles within their beer. The slightly wider top of the glass also helps retain the foam head of your beer, and bring out its true flavor profile and aromas.

This type of beer glass is incredibly popular amongst Americans and Europeans, with its popularity only growing as the years go on. They’re not only fun to drink out of, but they enhance your ability to appreciate the true taste of your beer. The only downside, is that they typically hold less beer than other types of beer glasses.

Weizen Glasses

Weizen Glass

Weizen glasses are often confused with pilsner glasses, due to their similar shape and size. The main difference between these two styles, is that the Weizen glasses have more curvature to them. Starting with a strong, narrow base, the glass has a distinctive curve to it as it goes up. This type of beer glass is much taller than a pint glass, and usually holds at least ½ a liter of beer.

Another important characteristic, weizen glasses are designed for and primarily used for wheat beers (Weizenbier). The curved lip at the top of the glass helps trap and encourage a thick foam head, allowing for you to appreciate the full aroma and flavor that comes along with wheat beers. However, be wary of the fruit that is usually served on the rim of wheat beers, especially at bars, as the acidity and juice of the fruit could destroy the foam head.

Snifters

Snifter Glass

This type of beer glassware is somewhat rare to find out in public. However, don’t let that stop you from trying it out. You may have already heard of the snifter glass, as it is usually used for tasting cognac and brandy, but many people don’t realize that it’s also great at enriching the aromatics of beer. The unique shape of the glass allows you to swirl your beer around, stirring up the volatiles which helps bring out the full aroma of your brew.

This type of glass looks kinda like the offspring of a wine glass and a goblet. It’s small with a thin stem and footer, but the large bowl on top holds plenty of liquid. Despite how much it can hold, with this type of glass you probably don’t want to fill it all the way up to the rim, as it’s typically reserved for beers with strong flavors and aromas. If you fill it up to the rim it may prohibit you from enjoying the full experience. This type of beer glass is typically used for stronger beers, such as Double IPAs and Belgian ales, and is a favorite amongst beer enthusiasts.

Tulip & Thistle Glasses

Tulip Glass

Another fun beer glass to try out is the Tulip. Designed to trap and maintain the foam head, the tulip glass helps enhance the flavor and aromatics of hoppy and malty brews. Much like the goblets and snifters, this beer glass has a small stem and footer with a unique, tulip-like bowl on top. The top rim curves outward, forming a lip that helps ensnare the foam head.

The thistle glass resembles a stretched-out version of the tulip. It has the same stumpy stem, with a bulb-like bowl, but it’s slightly taller and has less curves around the lip. The thistle glass is typically reserved and designed for Scottish Ales, as the “thistle” is Scotland’s official flower. Much like the snifter, the tulip glass is commonly used for stronger brews, such as Double IPAs, Belgian ales and barleywines. The bulb-like bowl allows you to generously swirl around your beer, releasing the full aromas. This is another type of beer glass that is a popular amongst beer geeks.

Stange Glasses

Strange Glass

The stange glass (or stangen glass) is also commonly referred to as a strange glass, stick glass, pole glass or rod glass. This type of beer glass is named this not because it’s a weird looking glass, but because “stange” is the German word for rod… and that’s exactly what it resembles. The stange glass is tall and slender, much like a “Tom Collins” glass. It’s easily the most boring looking beer glass on this list, but its use can be traced back for decades. No beer glass list is complete without the stange.

The shape of this glass is generally the same, but the size can vary. Generally, this type of beer glass will hold around 6.5 ounces, but it seems that in recent times larger versions are making their way out onto the market. This glassware is typically reserved for delicate beers, such as German Kölsch, to help intensify the flavors and aromas. The main benefit of this type of beer glass is that it has a firmer concentration of the important volatiles within the beer, allowing you to get a real sense of its flavor.

Tasting & Sampler Glasses

Beer Tasting Glass

The tasting glass, also called a sampler glass, can be found in all shapes and sizes. We add it to our list of beer glasses, because they are commonly found throughout brewery tours and pubs. Not to mention, every beer geek I know has their own special collection of tasting glasses at their home.

Taster glasses typically hold a fraction of the amount of a pint glass, ranging from 2.5 to 6 ounces of beer. They’re purposely designed this way so you can sample a beer, without becoming intoxicated. Taster glasses are also handy for sampling a couple of draft beers at your local pub, without committing yourself to the full pint. Or, if you and your buddies buy a rare, expensive brew, taster glasses are a great way to split it up and allow everyone to experience the full flavor.

What’s your favorite type of beer glass?

As you can see, there is a wide variety of beer glasses out there. Every single one of them are designed to enhance the over all experience you get from your favorite style of beer. To answer the most obvious question — Yes, the type of glass you drink your beer out of, does play a role in the overall experience you have. Despite your awesome pint glass collection, we hope that the above list has encouraged you to expand your collection to other styles of glassware. Even if you only debut your snifter once a year, just having it makes your collection all the more impressive.

So, which type of beer glass is your favorite? Let’s hear it in the comments below.

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6 Man Cave Necessities You Can’t Be Without

Every guy needs a man cave and every man cave is different.  If you are looking to upgrade your man cave or build one from scratch, there are a few necessities you absolutely have to have.  Regardless of your style, tastes, and preferences there are six things that will determine whether or not you have a man cave or just another room.

1.  A Big Screen HDTV

mancave

The most important thing your man cave needs is a TV and not just any TV.  You need a big screen HDTV although a 3D TV is ideal.  The TV is a focal point of every man cave.  The entire room doesn’t have to be centered on it, but it should get the respect it deserves.  If your man cave includes a lot of additional entertainment, such a pool table, full bar, poker table, etc., you may find a single big screen HDTV to be inefficient.  Don’t be afraid to strategically place a few additional small screen HDTVs around your space.

2. Beer

mancavebeer

It doesn’t matter what you drink, you must have the beer.  Without beer, you don’t have a man cave.  Even if you are primarily a hard liquor kind of guy, you still need beer.  Beer is a man-staple and should be treated as such.  A growing number of men don’t want to settle for regular beer and that’s fine.  Feel free to stock your man cave with dark, flavorful micro-brews.  Note: hard cider is not beer – leave it outside.

3. The Vibe

man_cave_1

You have your own tastes, interests, and desires and your man cave should reflect them.  Just because the man cave is traditional centered on sports themes doesn’t mean yours has too.  The key is to have a theme or a fantasy that your man cave embodies – it doesn’t really matter what it is – it just has to be manly (aka no kittens, chick flicks, or knitting).

 

4. Comfortable Seating

mancaveseating

The man cave isn’t designed for one person.  It is a meeting point for a group of men with similar interests.  More importantly, it is designed for long meetings of multiple men.  This means your seating needs to be comfortable, spacious, and durable.  All the better if your seating can hold beer.

 

5. Entertainment

mancavegames

Your man cave should be a hotspot which means you need to have some kind of entertainment.  This could be your HDTV blasting sports 24-7, video games consoles, dart boards, pool tables, poker tables, or whatever you and your friends want to spend time doing.  The important part is that entertainment options exist and are in ample supply.

 

6. Separation

mancave2

The number one thing every man cave needs is separation.  This is why you find most man caves in basements and garages.  It is a separate space that no one else in the house has authority over.  You can make a mess, stain your furniture, and punch the wall if you decide it is a good idea.  Your man cave – Your rules.  The only way to truly be able to create your own rules is to have your own separate space.

Leave a comment below and let us know us know your man cave must haves!

Real Ale 17th Anniversary Party

real ale anniversary party banner

On April 13th, Real Ale held their 17th anniversary party at their brewery in Blanco, TX. This year they decided to have it in April when it is much more pleasant outside than in previous years when it was held in the middle of the sweltering Texas summer.  The beautiful weather and the promise of FREE beer was a great excuse for a day trip into the hill country to see what the Real Ale 17th Anniversary Party was all about. It didn’t take much convincing to get several people to tag along with me.

The history of Real Ale Brewing Company begins in 1996 when Philip and Diane Conner, along with their son Charles, started brewing their first three beer recipes in the basement of an antique store in the town square of Blanco, TX.  The three beers they began brewing were Full Moon Pale Rye Ale, Rio Blanco Pale Ale and Brewhouse Brown Ale.  All three of these recipes are still brewed today.

Real Ale brewery beer

The Full Moon Pale Rye Ale is an American amber ale with 5.70% alcohol by volume.  This ale is described as “tawny red and full of malt and hops, Full Moon’s unique flavor truly satisfies. The smooth sweetness of malted rye and barley is complemented by generous helpings of Willamette and Cascade hops.” The Rio Blanco Pale Ale is “a uniquely Texan interpretation of an English-style pale ale,” coming in at 5.30% alcohol by volume.  It is described as “deep golden and malty, with a spicy hop flavor and well-balanced hop bitterness.”  It is the 2010 Great American Beer Festival’s Gold Medal winner in the Ordinary or Special Bitter category.  Finally, Brewhouse Brown Ale is their brown ale coming in at 5.40% alcohol by volume.  It is described as “rich and roasty, yet with a dry finish…the perfect companion for a hearty meal.”

In 1998, they sold their brewery to Brad Farbstein, who was a big fan of the Real Ale beers and often found himself in Blanco helping Philip and Charles bottle and label their beers in exchange for taking home some beer of his own.  The year that Brad became owner of Real Ale they brewed 500 barrels of beer.  In 2006, they maxed out the basement space and their 15-barrel system when they brewed 5500 barrels.  Their brewery is much larger now and consists of “a 60-barrel, four-vessel, steam-fired brewhouse capable of producing between 54,000 and 72,000 barrels a year.”

The party was held from 12-5 PM and we arrived at the brewery around 1 PM.  It seemed that word had spread about this once smaller anniversary party as parking was filling up quickly and people were filing in.  We got to the entrance shortly after walking by their bulk silo that holds 50,000 lbs. of 2-Row malted barley.

real ale bulk siloreal ale party entrance

At the entrance we were handed a Real Ale 17th Anniversary booklet.  In it were four drink tickets to use as we wished from the selection of 30 different kinds of beers they had available.  We staked our claim and set up our lawn chairs in an area between the food tent and the warehouse where the beer lines were.  We then headed inside the warehouse to the beer line and quickly realized that Real Ale hadn’t anticipated the popularity of their anniversary party.  The line was insane for the keg and cask-conditioned beer, so we first opted for the canned beer line to quench our thirst with a Hans’ Pils (a 2012 Great American Beer Festival Silver medal winner in the German-Style Pilsner category) and vowed to go back to the giant cask-conditioned and keg line when it looked to have settled down a bit.

real ale hans pils

We settled in our chairs and listened to the band as well as got a bite to eat.  In year’s past, food was free, but this year, they were selling food with proceeds going to the PAWS Shelter and Humane Society.  I didn’t mind paying for the food since it was for a good cause and they were already giving me free beer. The food they offered were the perfect quick bites for coupling with a beer.  The choices included a sausage tortilla wrap, Frito pie or soft pretzel and, of course, the one condiment available was mustard. They had live bands throughout the day as well as brewery tours every 20 minutes.  There was also plenty of Real Ale merchandise for sale from T-shirts to glasses.  We all opted to purchase some pint glasses as you can always use another good pint glass to add to your collection and we decided we could put it to use that day.

four squared dry-hopped aleWe ventured into the warehouse again to check out the beer line and quickly realized that to wait in the long line for the keg and cask-conditioned beers, you needed to first have a beer in hand.  We each got another canned beer from the much shorter canned beer line and then proceeded to wait in the keg and cask-conditioned beer line while happily enjoying our ice cold canned Four Squared, a seasonally-released dry-hopped Ale that I have now spotted in some stores around town in Austin.

Finally, we got through the line and enjoyed a cask-conditioned Firemans 4 which is one of the breweries more popular beers and one of my personal favorites.  When we finally ventured back to the beer line, my fourth selection was the Full Moon Pale Rye Ale, which, along with Firemans 4, is among the seven beers that Real Ale brews year-round. Now, some of you may be thinking I should have tried some more of the harder-to-find or seasonal beers, but I can’t help it… a girl likes what she likes.

Real Ale Pilsner

All and all it was a good time.  Good people watching, good music, good friends, good food and of course, GREAT BEER.

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Host a UFC Viewing Party at Home

UFC Jones v EvansWhether you’re a hardcore UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship)  and MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fight fan that religiously watches each event (like me), or you’re just wanting to have some friends over to watch an anticipated fight card, you may be looking for ideas to spice up your viewing party. With the UFC now on FX, you can host one of the free events if you’re new to the sport, or you can purchase the next Pay-Per-View event, UFC 145 Jones vs. Evans.

The essentials to host a fight at your home are food or snacks, beer, wine, or beverage of choice, a large HDTV and plenty of seating.

I’ve hosted a good number of events and have been to many hosted at friends’ homes. Besides these essentials, you’ll need great company to enjoy them with you!

For food or snacks, I personally love to grill if the weather permits. Then friends will bring other side items to add to the mix. You could also order pizza, have chips and salsa, and some sweets for later Outdoor Televisionin the evening. If I could put together my ideal viewing party, I would love to set up a backyard/patio living space, equipped with  outdoor furniture, a nice grill (maybe even with a stove on the side),  an outdoor TV and an outdoor beverage refrigerator. If the weather isn’t as friendly (especially for the big New Year’s event they have each year), you could get a griddle for your gas stove. Turkey sliders have been a hit at past events, since they’re easy to eat, and they come out great on a griddle as opposed to a normal frying pan.

The next essential piece for a UFC viewing party is beer, and plenty of it! If you plan on hosting a UFC event on more than one occasion (I tend to rotate with friends), a great addition to your home is aMini Kegerator kegerator, that way your beer is cold and on tap. Kegerators come in different sizes and for different uses. If you don’t want to take up too much space in your home, but like the idea, you could get a mini kegerator! Another alternative that works well if your friends usually bring their own beer is to purchase a beer cooler for your living room. Or maybe you and your friends prefer wine or margaritas… in that case you could get a wine refrigerator or margarator. WTF is a margarator you ask? We wrote about it here. An ice maker may also be an essential addition if you plan to have other drinks, and your fridge doesn’t produce enough. Whatever your preference is, it helps to be ready to entertain your guests.

Besides food and beverages, it’s essential that your television and seating is large enough to accommodate the number of people you plan to have over. I know from personal experience that standing, sitting on the floor, or struggling to see the TV amongst all the guests can be a buzz kill. Having an HDTV makes the experience even better!

Who’s your pick for Jones vs. Evans? Let us know by commenting below!

 

The Coolest Homemade Kegerators

For those that enjoy drinking draft beers at home, a kegerator is the best idea for getting great-tasting beer. Who can blame them? Kegerators are a sound investment, and they allow you to get a good supply of beer at a lower cost than buying them by the bottle.

Your kegerator is great. It gives you beer, and you drink it. That is your simple, easy relationship with this beer-dispensing god.

But what if your kegerator is lacking that certain look? While having a kegerator is awesome, most today don’t have an innovative design or layout. If you’d love to be able to build a kegerator out of everyday objects or into unique places, then you are in luck: today we’ll be showing you some of the coolest and most innovative homemade kegerators we’ve seen so you can get your creative juices flowing.

Chest Freezer Kegerator

chest freezer kegerator     chest freezer kegerator inside

This kegerator was made out of an old chest refrigerator/freezer and modified to hold up to 8 kegs, making the home it resides in a proverbial bar for anyone that walks through. The inside of the freezer holds both 5 liter and ¼ barrel kegs filled with local and national brews for those with varying tastes. Lines run through each keg to their respective taps, while gas lines run from the back of the kegerator to the kegs to give the pump enough CO2 to deliver the delicious liquid to your glass.

An extra side bucket keeps bottled beers on hand in case you don’t like what’s on tap. This unique kegerator is great because of the size of the container and quantity or variety of beers that it can hold.

Truck Tailgating Kegerator

truck tailgating kegerator

Let’s hope this doesn’t interfere with any open container laws! This innovative kegerator is made out of a truck bed toolbox, which allows you to drink and serve beer wherever you go. This is (of course) a perfect accessory for tailgating and BBQs, and you can be sure the party will stay wherever the beer goes.

It is also easy to change the kegs out, as the toolbox lid lifts up and allows you to access the inside of the refrigerated unit. The customized tap handles also give the entire kegerator that manly feel, just in case a truck kegerator didn’t do that enough.

Driver Arcade Kegerator

racecar arcade kegerator     driver arcade kegerator tap

For the hardcore gamer, the arcade car/kegerator allows you to play your favorites while drinking your favorites. Just relax in front of the screen and play any racing game you’d like. Whenever you get thirsty, just reach behind you and pour yourself another beer!

Recommended situation: if applicable, try playing Need for Speed while downing a nice brown ale such as a Newcastle, Sam Adams Brown Ale or Brooklyn Brown Ale.

Arcade Machine Kegerator

arcade machine kegerator

This is the dream of many men who still keep their inner child inside of them. As a fully stocked arcade machine and kegerator, the Arkeg allows you to play all of the classics while never having to go far for a nice pint.

This machine features 69 of the classic video games from the golden era of gaming, including Missile Command, Paperboy, 1942, and Mortal Kombat (among many others). You can also buy a 5 gallon keg of your favorite beer, or you can brew your own to taste whenever you’d like!

Refrigerator/iPod Kegerator

refrigerator ipod kegerator

Why own a regular refrigerator when you can have a fridge that solely serves beer? That seems like all you’d ever really need in your home. But what if that fridge also played your favorite tunes on a built-in iPod dock? Well, that would just be outright fun.

This fridge features a kegerator tap built onto the front of a fridge where the kegs of your favorite beer are kept, and the iPod dock is right above it, so you can change to your favorite song while pouring your favorite beer.

And you thought fridges were just for food…

We are always looking for great ideas for new kegerators. If you have a kegerator you’d like to show us, send us a picture on our Facebook page.

WTF is a Margarator?

We’re always on the lookout for the next big thing in home appliances here at Kegerator.com, and one of our employees recently came across “margarators” while combing the net for interesting beverage dispensers.

Curious to find out more about this “mystery product”, we had some questions: Was it refrigerator-based like a kegerator? Can you build them into your counter space? And more importantly – is it as convenient as pouring from a keg? For example, can you purchase a large volume of already mixed margarita (like a keg of beer) for optimal serving ease?

After some more research we found that we, in fact, carry a selection of products that could be called “margarators”… So what is one? Well, a margarator is a machine used for blending and mixing frozen drinks both alcoholic and non (we call it a margarita machine). It’s different from a blender because the blades are crafted to specifically cut through ice and fruity deliciousness. And, instead of just selecting a speed, you can adjust the setting by consistency to ensure your concoctions turn out just right. Plus, the majority of “margarators” have more power than your average kitchen blender and include a built-in spout for easy pouring. It’s really a “must-have” for all margarita and frozen drink lovers.

If you’re going to get one (and you should), don’t be a fool and call it a “margarator”. Why? Because unlike a kegerator, the unit does not always chill and serve the contents (the commercial ones do, though), so naming it a “margarator” (which is seemingly synonymous with the term “kegerator”) just plain defies the logic of the name since it does not serve the same purpose of a kegerator.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this hot topic. Do you think margarator is a fitting name for these products?

Circle Brewery Tour

Circle Brewery Kegs

A few weeks ago, Groupon offered a deal for a brewery tour at Circle Brewing here in Austin. For $15, you got a brewery tour package for two, which included two Circle pint glasses with koozies and a self-guided tour. It also technically came with 6 drink tickets (3 each), but Groupon advertises that alcohol isn’t included in the cost of the package.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when the day of the tour came around. The website said we could arrive any time between 1 and 5 pm to take the tour. My friend and I showed up around 2 pm and the place looked packed. They had marked off a huge area in front of the brewery for people to hang out and eat food (available from two local food trucks) and there were quite a few groups of people just standing around. It looked like a carnival that had forgotten all of their rides and games. There wasn’t much of a line though to get in, so we showed our IDs, got our drink tickets and picked out which color koozie we wanted for our pint glass.

Circle Brewing

The Crowd at Circle Brewing

We decided our best bet would be to grab a pint before starting the self-guided tour. Luckily, the line for beer wasn’t very long and the people were pouring pretty quickly. I opted to try the Envy, an amber beer they offer year round, and my friend got the winter brew, Nameless, a winter amber. I definitely preferred Nameless to Envy, though both were very tasty.

Outdoor Beer Station     Pouring the Envy

Once we had our beer, we ventured inside the warehouse to start our tour. There was actually a line for the self-guided tour, which we thought was a little strange, but we jumped in line and waited. At the start of the tour, there were some Self-Guided Tour handouts to explain what you were seeing as you walked by the equipment. The handout included the line:

Please DO NOT TOUCH any tanks, pipes, valves, hoses, etc. Bad things could happen.

An appropriate warning, but just in case you missed it, all of the equipment was also blocked off with yellow tape. It seemed overly cautious to me at first, but I was still on beer #1; who knows what I would have been capable of after beer #3.

Turned out the tour line was completely pointless and only forming because some people had decided to stand and talk in front of the equipment. We stepped out of the line and walked next to it to get glimpses of the equipment. Honestly though, if you’ve been on one brewery tour, you’ve been on them all. What really makes a brewery tour interesting and unique is getting to talk to the actual brewer, ask questions and learn unique things about the brewery. All of that was stripped away on the self-guided tour, which was disappointing, but getting to try the beers made up for it. It turned into more of an afternoon happy hour, which is never a bad thing.

I will say I learned one interesting fact from the tour handout:

It takes us about 2 minutes and 35 seconds to wash a keg, and about 2 minutes and 15 seconds to fill one.

Checkout the gallery for the rest of my pictures from Circle Brewing (Please forgive any blurriness. It isn’t really easy to hold a beer in one hand and take steady pictures with your iPhone in the other.):

Black Star Co-op Brewery Tour

Black Star Co-op is a fairly new brewery and pub in Austin, TX, and the first co-op brewery in town. Being a co-operative means that the business is owned by the people (or members, in the case of Black Star) and the employees. We decided to check them out by scheduling a brewery tour for Kegerator.com employees that were interested.

One of the first things I learned about Black Star when I arrived is that the employees at the bar don’t accept tips. I ordered my first beer (a Thirsty Goat Amber) and looked around for a tip jar with no luck. I asked the girl who took my order where I could leave a tip, and she informed me that the employees of Black Star all receive living wages. So no tip jars on the bar and no tip line on the receipt. Awesome.

    

A few of us in the group enjoyed a beer as we waited for everyone to arrive and the tour to begin. It’s definitely a nice setup for hanging out with friends, inside or out on the patio.

The tour began with us climbing a ladder to a loft in the brewery room where the grains and mill are stored. We tasted some of the grains on hand and got a quick overview of Black Star’s process. The next part of the tour included two mash tuns where the grains are steeped and 4 fermenters, which each can hold 20 half barrels of beer. The final stop was the cold room where the beer being served at the bar is stored and kept cool.

         

We learned that Black Star never makes the same beer twice; they’re constantly tweaking and improving the recipes, so while the beer might have the same name, there could be subtle changes in the taste.

After the tour, some of us hung around to drink some more, chat, play darts and try some food. The place got fairly crowded in the evening, so there was a bit of a line to order beer or food, but the atmosphere was very relaxed and enjoyable.

I look forward to going back soon and possibly becoming a member. Do you have any co-op breweries near you? Plug them in the comments!

Top 5 Drinking Games

If you’re having a party and want to entertain your guests, and are willing to let your guests crash on your couch, then play some drinking games. As a recent college graduate I am well versed in the art of drinking games and would like to give you my list of the top 5 drinking games.

1. Beer Pong / Beirut

Beer Pong

This is a classic drinking game started in the 1960’s. In this game there are two teams of two on opposites of a long table. Each team will have 6 or 10 cups setup in a triangle formation, all one third filled with beer.  Each team takes turns throwing a ping pong ball at the other team’s cups. If a ball goes in the cup, the opposite team must drink the contents. A team wins when they hit the last cup of the opposite team.

Those are the basic rules, but you should always ask what the house rules are before starting a game. Many people have adjusted, changed or added to the rules over the years, so it’s always best to make sure you’re on the same page if you want to win.

2. Baseball

There are again two players on a team, but the teams take turns drinking and throwing in this game. There are four cups lined up spaced out from one each other, each one further from the throwing team than the previous. The first cup is ¼ full, the second ½ and so on until the fourth and final cup is full. The game consists of nine innings of three outs each. Each person on the batting team takes turns throwing a ping pong ball into the cups. When they hit the opposing team must drink everything in that cup. If the batting team misses that counts as out. You keep score with amount of runs. You only score a run when a “base runner” is advanced past the plate, just like baseball. After nine innings the team with the most runs wins.

3. Flip Cup

In this game two teams of players of equal size line up on the opposite side of a table or counter from each other. Each person starts with a cup face up with a small amount of beer in it. To start the game two players on opposite teams cheers with each other then drink the beer in their cup. Once they have finished what’s in their cup, they attempt to flip the cup from right  side up to upside down using one hand. The trick is to place the cup a little off the edge of the table, and then gently flip it. After the first person flips their cup to the right side, the next person on the team drinks what’s in their cup and then flips it. This continues until the last person on the team has flipped their cup. First team to flip all of their cups wins.

Flip Cup

4. Chandeliers

This is my personal favorite game. This game can be played either with quarters, smaller glasses and liquor or ping pong balls, larger cups, and beer/liquor. All of the people playing gather around in a circle with a cup of what they’re drinking in front of them. Each of the contestants also adds an amount of their liquor to a pitcher in the center. All of the players then go around bouncing a quarter, or ping pong ball. If the quarter goes into someone else’s cup, that person has to drink; if the quarter goes into their own cup, they get to pick who drinks. If it goes into the center, the players race to finish their drink, and the loser must drink the contents of the pitcher in the center. Everyone is a winner.

5. Kings or King’s Cup

This game has a lot less action then the rest, but is still quite entertaining. To setup the game you layout a deck of cards, face down, in a circle with no gaps between the cards. Each person goes around and takes a card, and performs the rule that corresponds with that card. Every house has different rules for each card, so it’s best to just look up rules you would like to use. Some examples are, girls drink, guys drink, you drink, you pick someone to drink, and waterfall. The game is done when all the cards have been picked up.

 

This is just a short list of some of the games that can be played at a party. In all of these games lots of good beer is almost a requirement. Just remember to drink responsibly, have a DD, don’t drive, etc. and you’re sure to have a great time.

 

Our Top 10 Man Caves (Part 2)

The Final Countdown

Check out the first half of our Top 10 Man Caves list here.

5. NFL Network Presents…

Built for a competing family atmosphere, this football-themed man cave was built and furnished with the help of the NFL Network. As the family is torn between the Ravens and Redskins, the center couch is placed on a rotating platform, allowing you to view each game on the TV screens or projector, with service provided courtesy of the NFL Network.

Man Cave 5     Man Cave 5-2

[click the images for a larger view]

4. J-E-T-S!

If you’re a Pats fan, you might as well just get out now, because this next home bar is all about the Jets. Hand-carved, polished wood make up the bar, which is stocked to the brim with almost any alcohol of your choice. A big-screen TV with game consoles and a DVD player, as well as luxury leather couches, give this man cave a very “at-home” feel.

Man Cave 4    Man Cave 4-2

3. Holy Batcave, Batman!

Come into the Down Under while we visit this man cave based in Australia. The owner took the “cave” part seriously – as the walls are made out of a faux rock siding – because of his affinity for the Batman series. A full projection screen lines the front wall, with two rows of movie theatre-style seating for guests. Come on though, who wouldn’t love a Batcave like this?

Man Cave 3     Man Cave 3-2

2. The Lap of Luxury

This man cave will take your breath away as you gaze over the luxury that you can enjoy. Featuring three TVs to watch several games at once, and luxury seating that can fit a large group of people, this would be a perfect place to host a game. It also helps that a built-in wine cellar is right nearby, allowing you to take anything from your collection to enjoy.

Man Cave 2     Man Cave 2-2

1. Hittin’ the Club

Our number one man cave boasts the nightclub theme, with ambient lighting to set the mood and luxury couches to relax comfortably. The fully stocked bar lights up while tables and chairs adorn the bar and around the entire room. As a roomy and relaxing atmosphere, it’s no wonder that you may feel the urge to dance.

Man Cave 1     Man Cave 1-2

Are there any amazing man caves out there that we missed? Let us know in the comments which is your favorite or share pictures of your own man cave. You may even inspire us to update the list.