The Maine Brew Bus was founded in September 2012 by Zach and Allison Poole, who realized that people in Portland might enjoy a guided safe ride to drink local beer at different small producers. Maine’s Original Brew Bus company began by offering tours on Saturday afternoons to a handful of breweries in the Portland area.
Our guests quickly saw that having a designated driver to guide them to both established and up-and-coming producers offered them an opportunity to learn much more about the craft alcohol business than they could learn on their own.
The all-inclusive tours on our bright green school buses provide a behind-the-scenes look at Maine’s craft breweries, distilleries, wineries, and more. Tours are led by expert guides in addition to a knowledgeable non-drinking driver to ensure the best possible experience for participating guests as well as for the businesses with which they partner.
That first summer proved that Maine’s Original Brew Bus was a very popular tour with locals and visitors alike. Exciting new tour routes were added on weekdays, and newly opened producers embraced the idea of having “The Green Bus” stop by so that guests could taste and tour at their facilities.
By the time our first anniversary rolled around, nearly 1,500 guests had taken tours and The Maine Brew Bus had become the #1 Tour in Portland as rated by TripAdvisor users – an enviable position that they maintain to this day. The fleet now includes three 15-passenger buses and 10 additional staff members, and we drove well over 5,300 guests from around the globe to drink local during 2016.
The Maine Brew Bus offers regularly scheduled and private tours in Greater Portland and Southern Maine. Some tours are partnered with local minor-league baseball and basketball teams and include game tickets as part of the tour package. We also offer frequent specialty and adventure tours, such as the popular Birds on Tap – Roadtrip! series, the Zymurgy Home Brew tour, History of Portland Beer tour, local Coffee and Tea tours, and new offerings produced throughout the year.
In 2014, 2015, and 2016, The Maine Brew Bus was presented the coveted TripAdvisor “Certificate of Excellence” for outstanding guest reviews. We also received an Editor’s Choice award by Down East Magazine as a “2014 Best of Maine” recipient, and were selected for Portland Buy Local and Entreverge awards in 2015.
In March of 2017, The Maine Brew Bus acquired a similar Portland-based tour company called Maine Beer Tours.
For more information about the Greater Portland Region visit the official travel website.
The Maine Brew Bus Management Team
Zach Poole is the founder and Principal of The Maine Brew Bus. He and his family live in Deering Center in Portland. He grew up in Shoreham on Long Island in New York State, and attended college in Massachusetts at UMass Amherst and Bridgewater State, from which he earned his degree in Physical Education. He is also a Cicerone Certified Beer Server.
After relocating to Maine, Zach began teaching in the Dayton School Department and also was an original team member at The Run of the Mill Public House and Brewery in Saco which opened in July of 2008.
While at the Run of the Mill, he was able to see first hand that guests didn’t know much about brewing and certainly didn’t know about where else to go to visit small breweries that were starting to open in Southern Maine. He also admitted that he didn’t know where to go or how to visit these breweries either.
After a particularly special and late night at Novare Res Bier Cafe, Zach thought it would be a good idea to buy a bus and bring people around on organized brewery tours in Portland.
Zach and his wife Allison established The Maine Brew Bus. LLC on February 28, 2012 and acquired a bus off of Craigslist. The former Kennebunk School Department bus (now bright green and named Lenny) made it’s debut at the first Labor Day Portland Brew Festival and the first public Maine Brew Bus tour was on September 8, 2012.
He left restaurant management behind in May of 2013, and made the decision to “retire with no benefits” from teaching in August of 2015. He is now full time dedicated to growing the Maine Brew Bus business and running after his young son, Archie. He holds a Cicerone Certified Beer Server certification.
Don Littlefield serves as the General Manager of the Maine Brew Bus in Portland. He is also a co-founder of Mass Brew Bus, a Boston-based company based on the same craft beer tourism concept.
He is a lifelong Portland resident who loves craft beer, and he manages new business development efforts, creative tour ideas, and social media content and marketing for both companies.
When he met Zach Poole right after the founding of The Maine Brew Bus in the fall of 2012, Don’s varied background in retail and restaurant management, technology sales, real estate, and non-profit leadership helped to lead the new company towards growth and expansion in order to connect more people to Maine’s craft alcohol entrepreneurs.
Don has attained a Cicerone Certified Beer Server certification and is currently studying for his Level 2 certification.
Dan Keller is the Operations Coordinator for The Maine Brew Bus, a role that puts him in contact with businesses in an effort to expand partnership opportunities, as well as connect companies and individuals to learn more about the local craft beer scene.
A Michigan native, Dan is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine’s business program with a focus of entrepreneurship and a minor in economics. Dan has worked in the Tasting Room at Rising Tide Brewing Company for over three years, and previous to that was the beer buyer for the Portland location of Whole Foods Market. Dan has earned a Cicerone Certified Beer Server certification, and he resides in Portland with his wife, Katy.
Ellie Yahn is the Administrative Coordinator for The Maine Brew Bus, and is responsible for connecting interested guests to tour opportunities as well as communicating with our industry partners about our various schedules.
Originally from Sharon, Connecticut, Ellie is a graduate of the University of Maine Orono where she studied Journalism and Art History. She finished her degree traveling to the Pacific Northwest with NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Ellie has spent her last year working in Portland for Portland Beer Week 2016 and for The Thirsty Pig, a local craft beer bar on Exchange St. She happily lives in Portland.
Aaron Connolly manages outside marketing opportunities as the Event and Festival Coordinator for The Maine Brew Bus.
A Portland native, Aaron went to middle and high school with Don and later earned his degree from Assumption College. He began working in the field of college admissions, a role he continues to serve as the Regional Director of New England Admissions for Elmira College in New York State.
Aaron is a beer lover who also served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Coastline Credit Union for over 15 years. He lives in Portland with his wife Bethany and their two daughters.
Jack Van Paepeghem joined the Maine Brew Bus team in early 2016, and serves as the Curriculum Coordinator. In this role, Jack will help improve the level of beer education among our own team members, the hospitality industry, and the general public.
Jack brings together our internal training programs so that our guides are as knowledgeable as possible. He is available to conduct on-site workshops and formal beer training programs for restaurants, bars, and hotels in Southern Maine. In the future, he will lead a new Introduction to Beer class that will be open to the general public.
Originally from Sun Valley, Idaho, Jack graduated with a degree in sociocultural anthropology. He quickly ended up working in one of Washington D.C.’s most regarded craft beer bars where his pursuit of beer knowledge and service led to him becoming D.C’s youngest Certified Cicerone at the age of 23.
Looking to gain a more technical brewing background, he traveled to Chicago and Munich with The Siebel Institute and Doemens Academy, where he received his diploma in International Brewing Technology and got a first hand look at Europe’s various brewing traditions.
Jack is one of the few people in the world who have attained Advanced certification in the Cicerone program.