Thirsty Travelers Are Finding Their Way to Portland This Year For Beer
After resuming limited tour operations in mid-July, The Maine Brew Bus has announced that nearly 500 guests have now safely taken their small-capacity historic walking tours to visit locally-owned businesses in Portland.
The company, which marked its eighth anniversary on Labor Day, made a decision to leave all of their buses parked for the time being. Instead, they have focused on offering a variety of open-air tours and activities that guests could enjoy by walking, biking, running, sailing, and cruising on powered boats.
“We wanted to make sure that our partners were comfortable with their own new operating protocols before we started our tours back up,” said Zach Poole, founder of The Maine Brew Bus. “We then doubled the times that our Old Port walking tours were available each day, and then introduced two new itineraries to showcase other brewing hotspots in Portland,” he added.
The walking offerings are entitled Walk, Talk, and Taste tours. Twice daily, expert guides from The Maine Brew Bus show guests around the brewing neighborhoods of Old Port, East Bayside, or Industrial Way. The tours include visits and tastes at three different breweries, and a modified version is available daily as a running tour.
Tours are limited to seven guests to comply with the state limits for organized groups. Guides and guests wear protective face coverings at all times unless seated and actively drinking or eating. Distancing and hand sanitizing procedures are utilized, and guests are provided individual samples instead of samples from a passed pitcher.
Bike and Brews bicycle tours to area breweries are conducted in partnership with Summer Feet Cycling, a 20-year-old company that provides bicycle-based tours around Portland and other parts of Maine. Boat-based activities where the guests enjoy local craft beer while experiencing Casco Bay on the water are offered in collaboration with Rocky Bottom Tours, Casco Bay Custom Charters, and Calendar Islands Sailing Company.
Poole reported that the walking tour visits over the past ten weeks have resulted in nearly $16,000 paid to locally-owned breweries for tasting fees, food, and gratuities. With some tours and activities conducted by other local tour operators, an estimated $20,000 has been channeled to those companies.
Guests taking the more than 100 individual walking tours have reported that they have come to Maine from 26 different states. Nearly half of all guests have come from New York and New Jersey, and most have reported that they are visiting Maine for the very first time. Residents of states that are non-exempt from testing or quarantine requirements have to certify that they have complied with the Keep Maine Healthy plan before they can enjoy the tour. Guests are generally in Portland for only a few days, but many are also spending time at Acadia National Park as they often are driving to Maine rather than flying.
The biking and boating options will not be available during the colder winter and spring months, but the company is now offering its walking tour options year-round. They are also actively working with other craft beverage venues to create new opportunities to connect future visitors to Portland to creative and memorable experiences.
Don Littlefield is the General Manager of Brew Bus Tours and also directs the National Operations of Brews Cruise, Inc. He enjoyed some Midnight Jazz from Coffee By Design while preparing this post. Twitter: @BeerinME