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Spirits, Cider, Suds and Chardonnay—Oh My!

Libations Big and Small

Whether your preferred beverage is served in something stemmed, a rocks glass or a pint, these libation destinations have just the thing to quench your thirst.

Already internationally known for its craft beer and distillery scene, Grand Rapids, Michigan, is also earning accolades as a leader in the hard cider realm, thanks to the state's apple bounty. Sip a Ginger Peach cider at Vander Mill Cider, take a production tour at Virtue Cider, enjoy a doughnut with seasonal hard cider at Robinette's Apple Haus & Winery—made from apples grown on-site—and more.

Like the city itself, Toronto's beer scene is diverse and bustling! The shores of Lake Ontario are a perfect place to enjoy a seasonal release from Amsterdam Brewhouse on the Lake, while Granite Brewery in the Yonge and Eglinton neighborhood offers acclaimed cask-conditioned ales. Get a taste of Toronto's history, and a malty treat, with a tour of Steam Whistle Brewing at the foot of the CN Tower. An hour and half south, the Niagara Ale Trail offers a chance to sip your way through the region.

Columbus, Ohio, has a booming craft beer scene, with more than 45 breweries to choose from. Thankfully, the Columbus Ale Trail makes it easy to explore! Dissect flavor and aromas with a guided tour and tasting at Wolf's Ridge Brewing; sip sours at Pretentious Barrel House, the city's original all-sour brewery; enjoy Hoof Hearted Brewing's out-there and less-than-subtle vibes; and more.

Exciting wine trails are woven through Finger Lakes Wine Country in New York. Choose from Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, the first organized and longest-running wine trail in America; Keuka Lake Wine Trail, where groups could meet winemakers and taste wines winning worldwide acclaim; and Seneca Lake Wine Trail, where wineries focus on grapes harvested within the federally recognized Seneca Lake viticultural area.

Frederick Wine Trail in Frederick County, Maryland, takes groups on a diverse journey, through Civil War battlefields before stopping in downtown Frederick and other vibrant corners of the region. Along the way, is Springfield Manor Winery and Distillery, which offers an opportunity to try award-winning varietals, blends and acclaimed lavender gin. Enhance the experience by roaming the nearby vineyard and lavender field!

Finding your spirit is simple in Delaware, especially along the Delaware Beer, Wine and Spirits trail. Try award-winning spirits like the Red-Cowabunga mead at Liquid Alchemy Beverages, Delaware's first meadery, before heading to Painted Stave Distilling, inside a 1940s movie house, for cinema-themed whiskeys, gins, bourbon and vodkas. Beach Time Distilling, also worth a visit, gets high marks from those who are all about a stress-free, laid-back beachy vibe.

Only 25 miles from the nation's capital sits Loudon County, Virginia, also known as D.C.'s Wine Country. Here groups could experience scenic vistas, rich American heritage and charming small towns while sipping their favorite beverage. "Hop" along the LoCo Ale Trail for a choice of more than 30 craft breweries, among them Dirt Farm Brewing and Rocket Frog Brewing Company. If wine is more your group's speed, 40-plus award-winning wineries and tasting rooms, including Stone Tower Winery and Bluemont Vineyard, are sure to please.

The birthplace of bourbon, Kentucky crafts 95 percent of the world's supply. Embark on the classic Kentucky Bourbon Trail to drink in the flavors of 17 signature distilleries, such as Jim Beam, Woodford Reserve and Maker's Mark. Did you know Kentucky also has a rich wine history? Celebrate it by taking a vineyard tour at Elk Creek Vineyards, site of America's first commercial vineyard, and taste some eclectic and "funky" wines at Old 502 Winery, located in a historic reclaimed building in downtown Louisville.

Discerning beer drinkers love Denver—for good reason! The Mile High City has a wide array of breweries, waiting to be discovered. With three locations in the area, Denver Beer Co. is a great group choice offering award-winning brews like Graham Cracker Porter, Pretzel Assassin Amber Lager and more. Known as Colorado's first brewpub, Wynkoop Brewing Company is ideal for those looking to pull back the curtain on craft brewing—take a tour and ask their "beer geek staff" anything! Looking for something lighter? Go classic with a behind-the-scenes tour and tasting at Coors, the largest brewery in the world.

Home to more breweries than any other city on Earth, it's no wonder Portland, Oregon, is nicknamed "Beervana." Dog lovers will enjoy the pet-friendly atmosphere and solar-powered craft brews at Lucky Labrador Brewing Co., while those with their head in the clouds will feel right at home during a tour of astronomy-themed Ecliptic Brewery. Portland is also home to a thriving wine culture and urban wineries such as Enso Winery. See it all on one of the city's many beer and wine tours!

Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Mar/Apr 2020 issue of Groups Today.

Photo courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids.


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