The Brews Cruise in Asheville was a big part of my Weekend getaway last year. And that’s why Brews Cruise Founder Mark Lyons was on my short list for the 5 Questions series. If you’re ever in Asheville Mark will help you get the most out of a lot of breweries in a short amount of time!
1 Tell us the history of Asheville Brews Cruise:
My wife and I were passionate about beer and we were interested in working in the industry. When NC began the “Pop the Cap” campaign which allowed brewers to brew beers higher than 6% ABV, we knew the industry was really going to expand, so we thought of an idea on how to showcase the rich beer scene in Asheville, NC. We started our mobile brewery tour company in 2006. We had amazing support from our local community, and the tourists loved it too. After the first year were hiring staff an expanding tour options. We teamed with the local chamber and marketed locally and via internet and were lucky to have received great local and national press. Turns out, people LOVE great beer and ABC has many ‘repeat offenders’ on the tour. We credit ABC success to our amazing staff, all the beer enthusiasts who participate, the breweries who host our groups, and of course, the fantastic beer! In late 2010 we made the big decision to move to Oregon to work on the bigger Brews Cruise expansion picture. We licensed the Asheville Brews Cruise market to our very first guide, Joe Sallazzo, who is now owner/operator in Asheville and is doing a great job. Joe’s ideas are in line with our original vision and he keeps the tours fun and memorable.
2 I had a great time on my Brews Cruise last year.
Tell us about the different tour packages that are available! So good to hear that you enjoyed the tour. Tour packages include several van tour options, and we also offer walking tours. Van tours include transportation to three breweries, beer samples and an exclusive tour at each brewery, and the last stop provides the opportunity to dine. Walking tours include guided walks to four breweries while strolling through beautiful downtown Asheville. The breweries provide beer samples and exclusive tours of their facilities. The last stop also provides the opportunity to dine or you can visit one of the other numerous restaurants downtown. We also do special events and can customize tours, so check out the website for the latest information and availability at: www.brewscruise.com
3 What other territories / cities have you expanded to?
We have another licensee (and good friend) who operates in the Denver, CO market and we recently moved to Bend, OR and plan to begin operating tours here. We are in discussions with several other markets including San Francisco, CA and Charleston, SC. With so many great craft breweries popping up around the country, we have the opportunity to grow our brand into multiple markets. We have a
contact page on our corporate website for people who are interested in starting a Brews Cruise in their area. And if you make it out to Oregon, contact us an we’ll be happy to show you a great beer time!
4 What do you like best about the beer scene in Asheville?
We love that the brewers are innovative and creative. In a town that consists of nine breweries, the competition is stiff, so each brewery is challenged to bring their ‘A game’ for each batch. It is a healthy competition and really, everyone wins in this scenario. High demand for interesting beer + pressure to brew great stuff = very happy consumers!
5 What is in your beer fridge right now?
We have a growler of Armored Fist from Boneyard Brewing which is an Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale. This beer is a collaborative effort between Boneyard and Three Flyods – absolutely delicious! We also have some Bridgport Hop Czar, a 22 of French Broad’s Anvil Porter, some Lonerider Sweet Josie Brown Ale, a Natty Greene’s Southern Pale Ale and some Laurelwood Workhorse IPA. The IPA’s out here are BIG so we are in
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