The growth of craft brewing in Minnesota is a wide ranging phenomenon. It's not just for bars and brewers -- it's an industry-wide movement that affects production, retail, and tourism.
Rebecca Pfeiffer, founder of the Taste of Twin Cities tour company, noticed all of the new breweries opening and saw an opportunity to expand, branching out with a new venture: Twin Cities Brewery Tours.
The company offers commercial tour packages (three breweries in five hours) within the metro, and also private and corporate outings. Currently two-thirds of the way through the tour cycle that hits Flat Earth, Great Waters, and Fulton, the tour company will soon switch its route and destinations, as it does every three months. Beginning in May, the bus will be taking thirsty patrons to 612 Brew, Dangerous Man, and a third still to be announced brewery.
Hot Dish wanted to know more about the blooming beer tourist biz in the Twin Cities, so we reached out to Pfeiffer to hear more about the tours, the company, and what happens when people enjoy just a little too much of a good thing.
Hot Dish: How many seats are available per tour?
Rebecca Pfeiffer: Our luxury coach buses can accommodate 15, 30 or 50. Our public tours utilize our 30 person coach bus but private tours can accommodate a smaller or larger group. Most tours sell out or are very close to sold out.
How did you decide to get involved with brewery tours as an extension of the food tours? Before our brewery tours we offered a variety of food tours and wine tours. We knew our next venture would include breweries...[we were] just waiting for some laws to change. We offer tours of different local finds that we love, and local craft beer is definitely one of those.
What kinds of food are involved in the brew tours?
Our current runs include a "snack" that will vary from tour to tour. Tour goers will have the opportunity to purchase food along the way. It could be full menu offered if we visit a brew pub or one of the many great food trucks when visiting a brewery.
The addition of taprooms has helped you out. Is there more legislation you'd like to see change?
I'd love to be able to enjoy a brewery on a Sunday with a nice pint of beer and be able to purchase a growler. I've never understand no sale on Sundays. Some people do enjoy being able to be closed, but I am sure most of the public would enjoy seeing these laws changed.
You've been to Excelsior on your public tours. Are you interested in doing more outstate tours?
We like to maximize the time in the breweries and add breweries our followers have been asking for. Most of the public tours will be in one geographical area -- western suburbs, downtown or eastern suburbs. Currently we have not had a public tour that focuses on breweries that are all outside the Twin Cities. I'm sure we will in the future and I'd guess it would be longer than 5 hours because of the distance.
What does your staff add to the experience of a brewery tour as compared to the experience of somebody visiting a brewery on their own?
You just jump on our bus: You don't have to worry about where you are going; where to park; who gets to be the unlucky person to drive; what cash you need to have; or if you get into a tour. Instead you jump on our bus and we take care of everything. You just sit back and enjoy an afternoon with great brew and other beer lovers.
What beers are your current favorites?
The Expat at Fulton, Northwest Passage IPA at Flat Earth, and Black Watch Oat Stout at Great Waters.
What are the rules to make sure that no guests get out of hand?
All guests have a great time on the tour and enjoy great beer but guests must remember to drink responsibly and the breweries, of course, have the right not to serve or allow any guests in if [they're] intoxicated or because of rude or vulgar behavior. Twin Cities Brewery Tours also reserves the right to end a guest's tour at any time for any reason. All of our guests so far have completed the tour in its entirety. Beer brings great people together.
What is something that you've learned from doing these tours?
It's amazing to see how much some people know about local beer or beer in general. And then, at the same time, I'm always so surprised to see how many people have not had a craft beer and end up purchasing the same old watered down beer. I'm glad to introduce these people to all the great kinds of beer they have been missing out on!