The Secret to Brewery Hopping Without Getting Drunk

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Brewery hopping is a great way to spend a day. But all that discovering and revisiting new and old favorite spots and their amazing beer can have a downside: getting drunk. Overdo it, and the hopping devolves into stumbling, crawling, and occasionally, face-planting. 

So, what’s the secret to brewery hopping without getting (too) drunk? Is it even possible? 

While we can’t promise that the following tips and tricks will keep you at the happy buzz level regardless of how much you drink, they should help mitigate the effects of the beer you quaff while brewery hopping. The result should be a more enjoyable experience on the day of, and a much clearer head the morning after. 

flight and camera at Brewery Vivant Grand Rapids Michigan brewery hopping
We love taking photos of beer when brewery hopping.
This is at Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids.

First Things First: What’s Brewery Hopping?

In case you’re a complete novice and have never heard of brewery hopping before, we’ve got a quick explanation for you. Brewery hopping is visiting different breweries that are geographically close to each other. In an ideal world, each visit would include a mini tour of the brewery and a sampling of its beers. In reality, those visits are sometimes limited to a quick tasting. Either way, brewery hopping with the right people (fellow beer lovers) is a great way to spend a day. 

How To Brewery Hop Without Getting Drunk

Now that the explanation of brewery hopping is done and dusted, let’s take a look at how to avoid getting drunk while doing it.

1. Learn to Stay Within Your BAC Green Zone

Drinking and not getting drunk is something of a science. Basically, one of the most important things you need to do is to keep your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below 0.06 percent, also known as the green zone.  At this level, you can enjoy the good effects of social drinking without the negative effects that come with drinking too much. Plus, it’s under the United States legal limit, which is 0.08 percent. You’ll feel more sociable and relaxed, and you’ll have a bit of a buzz, but you won’t slur your words or stumble.

The thing is, the amount you can drink to stay within the green zone differs from person to person. Use a BAC calculator to help you determine how much you can drink to stay in the sweet spot, which will make it easier for you to set a drink limit.

Honestly, your best bet for drinking and not getting drunk when brewery hopping is to simply sample a few beers, not toss back several pints at each place. 

2. Eat and Eat Some More

There’s no brewery hopping without drinking, and depending on how the outing goes, you might even end up drinking a little more than usual. That’s why there should also be no brewery hopping without food, as well.

Drinking on an empty stomach is not a good idea, especially if you’re trying not to get drunk. Make sure you eat a meal or a hearty, healthy snack before setting out on your brewery hop, and have another meal or continue snacking through the course of the day. The food in your stomach will slow down the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol, which should help keep your BAC down. 

friends with pizza and beer brewery hopping Grand Rapids Michigan The Mitten
Brewery hopping in Grand Rapids at The Mitten with pizza and beer flights.
Yes, we know it’s not the recommended chicken and broccoli, but it’s food!

Another benefit of eating before and while drinking is that some foods can help reduce your chances of heartburn, nausea, and developing a hangover. If you have time for a meal before heading out for some brewery hopping, follow the good Doctor Luiza Petre’s advice and eat grilled chicken and broccoli for potassium and magnesium, and quinoa for fiber.  If a snack is all you have time for, choose eggs and avocado. Eggs are packed with amino acids that your body needs to break down alcohol, while avocado is packed with healthy fats that your body will digest slowly. 

2. Sharing Is Caring

Share pints and flights (groups of three to six beers in smaller glasses) with your friends. This will allow you to sample a wider range of beers over a longer period while saving you money and helping you avoid getting drunk.  After all, the idea of brewery hopping is to sample the wares of various breweries, rather than spending all your money on drinking as much as you can in one place.

beers at Tres Litros Salida Colorado brewery hopping
Brewery hopping with friends that share opens up the doors to many beer flavors and glassware at Tres Litros in Salida, CO

And the more you share, the more you converse. Sharing beers is a great way to open up conversations about the beer, the brewery, and the fun you’re all having together. In the end, while it’s the beer that brought you together, it’s the stories and the people while drinking said beer that will keep you together.

3. Take It Slow

Avoid the temptation to chug your drinks. Sip your beers slowly and savor every mouthful, whether you’re drinking pints or flights. Record your thoughts in a beer journal, such as the Craft Beer Travel and Adventure Journal, so you don’t forget anything from the adventure of your brewery hopping times. This will help you focus on the beer itself while giving you more time in between each one.

Kenny sniffing beer
Before sipping, smell the aromas. Take it slow and enjoy every moment of the beer.

Using sipping as a way to pace yourself is a way to ensure that you’re not drinking more than one beer (or the equivalent number of smaller servings) per hour. The reason for this is that the average human body takes approximately one hour to process a standard drink. If you drink fast, and you drink more than one beer in an hour, your body won’t have the time it needs to process those drinks. The result is a higher BAC, a buildup of alcohol in your bloodstream, and a drunk you.

And remember, there’s no shame in not finishing a drink, especially if the flavor isn’t quite your cup of tea.

4. Don’t Limit Yourself to Drinking Just Beer

Don’t limit yourself to drinking just beer when brewery hopping. And, no, we don’t mean that you should mix it up with other alcohol. 

Alternate between beer and non-alcoholic drinks. Water’s best, but if you really don’t want to drink water, ask for non-alcoholic beer, mocktails, fruit juice, iced tea, or another non-alcoholic beverage. Any decent barman will know how to mix drinks that taste great but are alcohol-free, too. A good rule of thumb is to drink an ounce of water or juice (not soda) for every ounce of beer you consume.

Mixing your consumption of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks is a great way to limit how much beer you drink. What’s more, it’ll help you stay hydrated. Alcohol decreases the amount of water your body absorbs, leading to headaches and other unpleasant effects associated with dehydration.

no flight at Hatch Distilling Door County Wisconsin copy
No matter how good the distillery is – like Hatch Distilling – save it for later.
When brewery hopping, drink water in between beers, not liquor.

5. Eat Yeast and Yogurt

Yes, you read that correctly. Eat one teaspoon of baker’s yeast (AKA active yeast) in some unsweetened Greek yogurt before you start drinking. The yogurt will coat your stomach lining, which means you will absorb the alcohol more slowly. The yeast, however, is the magic ingredient.

Yeast contains enzymes known as ADH alcohol dehydrogenases, which are the same enzymes in your liver that break down alcohol. Your liver cells can’t produce enough of these enzymes to prevent you from getting drunk. So, eating yeast will give them a helping hand. The enzymes in the yeast can decrease the amount of alcohol that reaches your bloodstream by as much as 20 to 30 percent. 

6. Walk From One Brewery to the Next

When brewery hopping, there’s nothing that says you have to drive from one brewery to the next. In fact, if you and your group are driving from one brewery to the next, please have a designated driver, or be in a place where you can use Uber or Lyft.

Ideally, when brewery hopping, the breweries you have chosen to visit are all within walking distance. Places like Asheville; Denver; Tucson; or Portland, Maine, are all great examples of cities that have neighborhoods full of breweries. No need to drive when you can walk a few blocks and come across the next great brewery on your tour. Not only will walking give you a bit of exercise, but it will also give you some time in between drinks. And time in between drinks is good.

friends walking in Salida Colorado brewery hopping
On a brisk walk from brewery to brewery in Salida, CO

7. Less is More

Less is more is two-fold when it comes to brewery hopping. You don’t need to visit all of the breweries nearby in one day. In fact, you’ll enjoy yourself much more if you don’t. Keeping your brewery hopping tour to three to five breweries will not only help your goal of not getting drunk, but you’ll be able to enjoy more of each brewery’s vibes when you’re not rushing off to the next one before you can even get a taste of what the current one is all about. Yes, you might miss a brewery or two, but that is ok.

Less is also more when it comes to the alcohol content (ABV) of the beers you want to drink. Day drinking while brewery hopping is fun, but if you start your tour with a high ABV beer, your hopping time may be short-lived. If there’s a beer you want to sample that is a high ABV beer, do just that – sample it. At the most, get a taster pour. A five-ounce pour of a heavy barrel-aged 10% beer will be much better for your brewery hopping goals than an entire glass of it.

Brewery Hopping Without Getting Drunk Equals More Fun

None of these tips will completely prevent alcohol from affecting you. Not drinking at all is the only way to do that. But they should help keep you from getting drunk while visiting a brewery or two, or three…or more.

Plus, brewery hopping without getting drunk means the more breweries you get to visit, the more beer you get to taste, the more people you get to meet, and the more the fun you get to have. Cheers!

Friends Finns RiNo Denver Colorado brewery hopping
Brewery hopping is always better with friends.
River North District in Denver

Want More?

First, you’ve got to find the breweries.

Then you can start the brewery hopping. We’ve got some advice for finding great craft breweries no matter where you happen to be.

Try your brewery hopping skills at the next beer festival.

Brewery hopping is an entirely different experience when it becomes all about the beer in one giant place. We’ve got tips on how to enjoy a beer festival, too.


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1 year ago

All these years I’ve known you and NOW I find out about the yeast trick!

April Pishna
1 year ago
Reply to  Spencer

We can’t tell you EVERYTHING! Although, the best trick is to simply not drink too much in the first place. But, we all know how that works out when we’re all hanging around a campfire having a good time. We never want those good times to end. We just need to remember that there are more good times in the future, too.