I don’t know how long it will take. It could be 5 years, 10 years, 20 years or more, but sooner or later driverless cars will be mainstream and eventually considered a safer, more-productive alternative to human-controlled vehicles. For anyone who hasn’t been paying attention, companies like Google, Uber, and almost every major car manufacturer have a driverless or “self-driving” car in development, and many of them are being tested on roads near you right now. So what? You didn’t come to this blog to read the latest issue of Car & Driver magazine, you came here to read about beer. What you may not realize is that driverless cars may be the biggest thing to expand the craft beer universe in a long time.
There is no doubt that great new craft breweries and bars are popping up all over America, and what’s better than spending an afternoon sipping the latest fresh brews at a local taproom? The only problem is that the circumstances need to be just right and you need to plan way in advance to make this happen. Unless you live really close to such a place, which many of us do not, you need to get a hotel room nearby, take a cab or Uber, or find a friend that is willing to be the designated driver. The only problem with that is that I am never willing to be the designated driver (there is no way I’m spending the day at a craft brewery and not sampling the goods), and many of my friends feel the same way, and I can’t blame them. As for cabs and Uber, if a place is 45min to 1hr away the price becomes too much to justify.
I used to be way more lax when it comes to worrying about DUI/DWI, but I’ve seen too many of my friends get popped for it and it can really mess up your life for quite a while, and one day at a cool brewery isn’t worth that. Therefore, I try to plan beer trips where I head to a town that is known for great craft beer (like Portland, ME or Asheville, NC) and I stay in a hotel that is central to the action. After all, a little walking never hurt anyone, but this obviously limits the amount of places I can go. Driverless cars may change all that.
Case and point, maybe I’d like to go check out Abandoned Building Brewery in Easthampton, MA (their tasting room has some barrel-aged stouts available), but they are 1.5 hrs drive from my house. I’d really have to put a lot of planning into that excursion to make it work as things currently stand, but with a driverless car, I could do it on a whim! Hell, I could even sleep on the way back! That is why driverless cars will open up a world of possibilities to the craft beer enthusiast. Every craft brewery and bar you’ve always wanted to hit up are now instantly available, without worry. That is why the beer and bar industry as well as its customers should be uniting to champion this future technology!
Once they work out all the kinks maybe they can start working on the super fast flying cars I’ve always been promised in movies like Blade Runner and The Fifth Element, so I can head out to a brewery in Montana or Flanders, Belgium whenever I feel like it. This seems like and ideal version of the future to me,… except I’d be broke and fat.