24th Nov 2012 11:08am | By Editor
Perhaps one of the best ways to get an insight into a foreign country is to sample its booze: local liquor is as fundamental to national identity as food and sport.
When you think about it, what would the Russian stereotype be without its vodka?
Or the Scot without its whisky?
The Greek without its ouzo?
The German without its stein?
Thus, TNT is happy to conclude that taking a booze tour when abroad is a cultural must, to be chiselled on the to-do list alongside crumbling ruins and natural wonders.
An elaborate excuse to get pissed? Never!
One of our favourite spots for an alcoholic education has got to be Brooklyn Brewery in New York.
The growing reputation of the Brooklyn brand – is there an east London hipster pub without it? – mirrors just how happening the Stateside borough itself has become in recent times.
Once a gangster stronghold and subject of big-haired bitchiness on Sex And The City, going over the bridge now connects folks to a more cutting edge New York than that found in Manhattan – and one that takes its beer very seriously.
As such, and mercifully, you won’t have much luck finding the ‘big three’ in good bars in Brooklyn, so if you fancy a Bud, a Coors or a Miller Light, best head back over the East River.
What you will find, however, is a wide selection of micro-brews from across the country, inviting you into an increasingly popular US subculture – and that Brooklyn label is damn near inescapable.
‘Small Batch Tours’ at Brooklyn Brewery take place Monday to Thursday at 5pm, and must be reserved. They’re limited to just 30 ‘souls’ and cost a paltry £5, which includes a guided tasting of four beers.
They had us at ‘four beers’, but if you need more convincing, this jolly jaunt includes a guided tour of the brewhouse and an in-depth history lesson (remember, this is beer history, so it’s not to be snored at).
You also get a complimentary Brooklyn brewery stemware glass, saving you the effort of nicking one when you’re out on the town.
Why tour one whisky distillery when you can take in eight? Head to the Hebridean Isle of Islay off Scotland’s west coast and stagger a trail through the country’s top single malts.
The homes of brands Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Kilchoman, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Lagavulin and Laphroaig all reside here.
Known particularly for their strong, peaty flavours, whisky wimps need not apply to dally with these drams.