MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Hopping onto the ale trail

On pub and brewery crawls, you'll travel by trolley, bus, bike or boat.

The pub-crawl trolley at the History Center.

© Beth Gauper

In St. Paul, a trolley heads out on a History Pub Crawl.

These days, it seems as if all the world wants to go on a pub crawl. 

Beer and history go hand in hand in Chicago. In warm weather, the Chicago Architecture Foundation offers popular 2-hour pub tours  in the AndersonvilleNear NorthWest Loop and sometimes other  neighborhoods. Tickets don't include drinks.

Often, the Chicago History Museum offers trolley tours of British pubs as well as Chicago's "greatest dives'' and Prohibition-era  Chicago.

Chicago also offers Chicago Beer Experience Beer Tours. These three-hour walking tours combine Chicago history with beer tastings at bars. 

In the Twin Cities, two companies offer organized van tours, with a different slate of breweries each day: Hoppy Trolley Craft Brewery Tours and  Bitter Minnesota.

In St. Paul, the Minnesota History Center has offered History Crawls by bus, such as "St. Paul's Brewing History," and "Bars, Bootleggers and Booze.'' 

In Milwaukee, Riverwalk pontoon boats on the Milwaukee River offer weekend tours that dock at three riverside pubs. Bring your ID!

For more about Milwaukee brewery tours, see Mad about brew.

In June, the wacky Fat Tire Tour of Milwaukee is a "bike crawl of the underbelly of Milwaukee.'' The 25-mile bike ride starts at Best Place, the old Pabst Brewery hospitality room, and includes stops at Lakefront Brewery and Wolski's Tavern.

Costumes are encouraged, and prizes include Amazing Healing Power of Beer swag. It's a benefit for the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin.

In Traverse City, use a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard to visit six breweries and brewpubs along the Boardman River during Paddle for Pints, which are so popular they sell out as soon as the yearly schedule is announced.

From Madison, Hop Head Beer Tours offers bus tours in and around Madison, most of them starting at Vintage Brewing. 

Watch for bicycle and bus crawls in spring, during Milwaukee Beer Week,  Madison Craft Beer Week and Illinois Craft Beer Week.

For a list of beer festivals, see Best brew fests.

Last updated on November 9, 2021