Drinking beer is good. But so is watching it get made. Here are some nearby places where you can observe the art and science of brewing firsthand then engage in the all-important quality control testing. Bottoms up!
> On the free tour of Dogfish Head brewery in Milton, Del., you can get up close and personal with the brewing and bottling operation. This is a great choice for beer geeks—the tour guides might as well have Ph.D.’s in brewing. Each tour ends in the tasting room, where participants get four free samples. Tours offered Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.. Reserve in advance at 888-8Dogfish or http://www.dogfish.com.
> When you tour Flying Dog in Frederick, you learn the brewery’s colorful history (which involves Hunter S. Thompson, an ascent of K2 and some illicit substances) and taste beer at various stages in the brewing process (a little nip of wort, anyone?). Tours offered Thursdays and Fridays at 4 and 6:30 p.m., and Saturdays at noon and 2:30 p.m. Two-hour tour costs $5 and includes five samples and a commemorative glass. Reserve in advance at 301-694-7899 or http://www.flyingdogales.com.
> The free tour at Evolution Craft Brewing Co. in Salisbury only lasts about 15 minutes, which means there’s time for a burger, charcuterie platter or shepherd’s pie—and a few beers—in the attached Public House, located in a former ice plant. Tours offered Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. 443-260-2337, http://www.evolutioncraftbrewing.com.
> On the free, self-guided tour of Tröegs Brewery in Hershey, Pa., visitors make their way through the “Scratch Beer” brewhouse (where brewers experiment with new ingredients and brewing processes), the fermentation/filtration hall, the quality lab and the barrel aging room. Guided tours cost $5 and include a free glass and samples. See troegs.com or call 717-534-1297 for a schedule.
> Locally, Union Craft Brewery offers free tours and tastings on Saturdays at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. 410-467-0290 or http://www.unioncraftbrewing.com. And Heavy Seas Brewery offers the chance to touch and smell ingredients on its free tours offered most Saturdays. (It’s $5 for a souvenir glass and five free samples.) Reserve at 410-247-7822 or http://www.hsbeer.com.