9 out of 10 times that we hit up a new city in our travels we book a beer tour. And, to be honest, they have always been a major highlight of our trips! We’ve done a walking beer tour, a biking beer tour, and a shuttled beer tour and each one rocked in its own special way. The thing is this: you’re guided by someone who knows the beer, brewery, brewmaster, and owners very well. And, oftentimes, you get special tastings, tours, and info that you won’t normally get if you visit a brewery.
That’s why we’re so excited that CT Beer Tours is pretty close to launching! People ready to check out CT beer or for those who just want to try out new breweries in their home state can take a nice variety of tours that will expand out throughout the state.
We are also very excited to have had a chance to talk with Michelle Stanish, one of the owners of CT Beer Tours. She talked to us recently about how they started, their upcoming Kickstarter, their projected start date, the breweries (and more) that they’ll visit, tour options, the restaurants that will be helping out, and what will make CT Beer Tours a killer option.
1) We see that you have entered into fundraising mode. How close are you to reaching your goal?
We have been meeting with various, Connecticut breweries since December 2015 and only have about 5% left to contact. The breweries are excited to see a beer tour business that hosts regular tours on a weekly basis will be launched in the fall of 2016. John Savage, Jared Yager and myself (Michelle Stanish), the owners of the company, have just finalized our business plan, having also put our hard earned dollars in to cover startup costs, such as business registration, corporate apparel and marketing collateral. We will be launching our first event at Overshores Brewing Company in East Haven, CT (a cornhole tournament) on April 16 to help raise funds for the next step of our business plan, which is to obtain a vehicle.
Subsequently, we plan to coordinate additional events with other breweries throughout the summer with hopes to spread our name, support the breweries and meet with the locals. We also plan to develop a Kickstarter campaign in June devoted to help cover the cost of a vehicle.
2) When is the projected kickoff to your tours?
Our kickoff event will be held in mid-September. We are hosting a launch party at Waypoint Spirits in Bloomfield, CT, which is open to the general public. You can meet with the owners, sample Waypoint Spirits gin, vodka & newly launched whiskey. It will be fully catered with a cash bar and we are also looking to get Back East Brewery on board as well since they are located right down the street.
3) Can you give us a sneak peek? What are some of the breweries that you plan to take people to?
We currently have four target markets we are concentrating on – (1) Branford area: Thimble Island, Du’Vig, Stony Creek, Overshores. (2) Bristol/Waterbury: Firefly, Relic, Brass Works, Shebeen. (3) Central CT: Thomas Hooker, Back East, Olde Burnside, Top Shelf. (4) Northern CT: Cold Creek, Broad Brook, Powder Hollow. (5) South East: Cottrell, Beer’d, Outer Light, Grey Sail (in RI) and These Guys Brewing.
Beyond our regular tours, we plan to extend to other tastings besides beer at WayPoint Spirits (gin, vodka, and whiskey), Onyx Moonshine and restaurants looking to feature food pairings.
Special events, such as brewery tours in Fairfield County and casino trips, will also be offered occasionally throughout the year.
4) Are there any geographic limits, or will you cover all places in the state at some point?
In our first year of business, we prefer to concentrate in our own backyard (central Connecticut). By our second, we plan to purchase an extra vehicle and add more tours to the mix.
5) Will you have “pre-made” tours, customer-selected tours, or a combo of both?
We plan to host a combination of tours, both public and private. Public tours will be listed on our website ctbeertours.com and will highlight the essentials of the trips, including pickup area, cost, time, destinations, etc. Our private tours will be available to individuals
or parties of up to 14 guests, which will include visits to breweries of their choice. As mentioned above, we will also incorporate special event-based tours throughout the year. For instance, Shebeen Brewing hosted a St. Patrick’s Day party, so we hauled three full carloads of friends to the event. We love showing up to local events put on by breweries in hopes to show our support. This will be most convenient once a company vehicle is purchased.
6) What are some of the restaurants that you’ll be working with?
We have spoken briefly with a few local restaurants that offer a variety of craft beer, such as Cambridge Brew Pub in Granby, Barley Vine in Bristol, Knuckleheads in Wallingford, and These Guys Brewing in Norwich, all of which are interested in participating. We also have our eyes on KC’s Restaurant and Pub in Guilford.
7) We’ve been to many beer tours, like you: what is exciting about your tours and how you plan to hold them?
I and the other owners have been on many tours as well. When starting to develop our business plan on our most recent tours to Vermont and Boston, we noticed how (a), their vehicles were not comfortable – they pack you into a 15-seater van like sardines and, (b), the entertainment level could have been higher. Our goal is not to merely drive you to a few places to taste beer. Rather, we are looking for you to have a memorable experience while tasting a variety of delicious beer. When you leave our tours, you will have gained a better sense about how beer is brewed, have made new friends, laughed too much (we might even coax you to sing some karaoke), and can’t wait to come back for another round – selfie sticks encouraged.