One thing I've realized. I know very, very little about beer not produced in Wisconsin.
I have the occassion to drive to Portland, Oregon starting on Thursday through Monday (Labor Day). I'll be passing through Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Aside from Surly and Upright, I have no idea what beer is any good, what I should be getting, or even what I can expect to find in stores. I have to check luggage for my flight back (I'm taking a tent with me and tent stakes aren't exactly allowed in the carry-ons, you know?), so I plan on bringing back as much beer as I can.
There is one side of me that says "Eh, f- it, figure it out on the road." This is my impetuous sense of adventure that can result in really cool, unique stuff based on the personal recommendations of people and places that you meet and see along the way. It is this sense of "get in a car and go" that, frankly, got me into this trip to begin with (you will find out, if you were to meet me, that you can pretty much talk me into doing anything that I've never done before). However, this is putting my faith in strangers as I have no frame of reference or guide to show me the way. Moreover, there is a huge possibility for missed opportunity for the sake of spontaneity.
On the other hand, by planning and having some idea of what to look for, I can maximize the bounty of my trip. This is my first trip out there, and while I may get back to Oregon or Washington, the odds of me being in North Dakota, Wyoming or Idaho anytime soon is pretty slim. So, my other option is to assiduously research the breweries and brewpubs, make a list of stuff that I want and go straight for that at the liquor store and supplement that list (or check that list) with local knowledge.
So, what do you think?
How do you travel? Do you throw caution to the wind or do you do your research down to the beer bar closest to your hotel?