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, History Pub Crawls by trolley are very popular.

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

Even the Chicago Architecture Foundation has hopped onto the beer bandwagon, offering walking tours of pubs in four neighborhoods.

Beer and history go hand in hand in the Windy City, where the Chicago History Museum keeps coming up with new theme crawls. Trolleys take history tourists on tours of British pubs as well as Chicago's "greatest dives'' and Prohibition-era  Chicago.

Watch for bicycle and bus crawls in spring, during Milwaukee Beer WeekMadison Craft Beer Week and Chicago Craft Beer Week.

In Chicago, In warm weather, the Chicago Architecture Foundation offers 2-hour pub tours  in the Andersonville, Near North, West Loop, River North and Lakeview  neighborhoods. Tickets don't include drinks.

Chicago also offers Chicago Beer Experience Beer Tours. These three-hour walking tours combine Chicago history with beer tastings at bars. There are two tours, Lincoln Park & Lakeview and Bucktown & Wicker Park.

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 offers popular History Crawls by bus, including "St. Paul's Brewing History," and "Bars, Bootleggers and Booze.'' They cover various neighborhoods, including downtown, the West End, Summit Hill and the Old St. Anthony neighborhood of Minneapolis.

In Milwaukee, Riverwalk pontoon boats on the Milwaukee River offer weekend tours starting in May. The Saturday pub crawl stops at Molly McCool's, the Milwaukee Ale House and Rock Bottom Brewery.

The Sunday brewery tour stops at Lakefront Brewery, the Milwaukee Ale House and Rock Bottom Brewery. 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 bike tours around Madison and bus tours of other areas. It visits Lake Louie, Furthermore and Tyranena on its Backroads Brewery Bus Tour, and Central Waters, O'so and Red Eye on its Central Wisconsin Brewery Bus Tour.

In Duluth, the Duluth Experience offers brewery tours by bus, and you can visit them yourself on the Duluth Beer Trail.

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


Last updated on May 19, 2016