Tour Roanoke introduces new format for brewery tour

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Tour Roanoke, a five-year-old company offering outings focused on Southwest Virginia’s food, drink, history, sights and culture, is shaking up its Craft Beer Tour.

The new Virginia’s Blue Ridge Hop-On-Hop-Off Brewery Tour visits every brewery in the Roanoke region and allows tour-goers to personalize their brewery experience.

A company-owned mini-bus will shuttle between six to 10 breweries and craft beverage venues during every tour. Tour-goers choose three breweries to visit for an hour each. The route of the tour changes weekly, allowing repeat tour-goers to stop in at each of the region’s growing number of breweries. Along the way, passengers will hear the stories behind the breweries, receive beer information and advice, and play trivia games for beer-themed prizes.

This tour will be offered on Saturday nights initially with plans to add Friday night tours soon.

Four years ago, Tour Roanoke created its Craft Beer Tour as a way to introduce Roanoke residents and visitors to a local craft brewery scene that was just beginning to bubble. At that time, nine breweries, many only months old, were up and running in the Roanoke Valley.

Since then, eight new breweries have opened, located in Salem and Vinton, in Roanoke, Franklin County and Bedford. And local beer connoisseurs have become increasingly sophisticated. Today’s beer tour clients are most interested in safe transportation to a variety of breweries, visiting different venues, knowledgeable recommendations of the breweries and beer, and ample time to fully experience each brewery, says Tour Roanoke founder and owner, Larry Landolt.

This new tour begins at downtown Roanoke’s Deschutes Brewery Tasting Room or with a pre-tour pickup at one of three area hotels. Varying routes visit a pre-determined selection of breweries. At each location, tour-goers will be dropped off to sample the brewery on their own and picked up within the hour.

For example, one route offers a stop at Deschutes, A Few Old Goats Brewing, Big Lick Brewing Company or Soaring Ridge Craft Brewers in the first hour, then a choice of Starr Hill Pilot Brewery or Twin Creeks Brewing Company in Vinton for the second hour, and ends at Beale’s Brewery in Bedford for the final hour.

This model allows tour-goers to spend an extended time at each brewery and to select their beer according to their tastes.

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Hop-On-Hop-Off Brewery Tour is also pairing with a new offering from Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. Roanoke’s visitor’s bureau has designated a Cheers Trail, which provides a map and listing of the region’s breweries, distilleries and wineries, as well as incentives and prizes for visiting multiple locations.

Craft breweries are on the rise nationwide. A national trade group of small and independent brewers counted a total of 6,266 breweries in the U.S. in 2017, a number that has doubled since 2013. Small and independent breweries accounted for 98 percent of U.S. breweries in operation in 2017, according to the Brewers Association. An estimated 83 percent of drinking-age Americans currently live within 10 miles of a craft brewery, reports the group.

In Virginia, craft beer has exploded in the past several years, growing from 45 craft brewers in 2012 to 190 in 2017, according to Brewers Association data.

Craft breweries are seen as tourism attractors across the country. When craft breweries open, brewery tours, tasting rooms, beer trails — and tourist dollars — typically follow.

The Virginia’s Blue Ridge Hop-On-Hop-Off Brewery Tour is only one of Tour Roanoke’s varied tour offerings. The company provides guided tours of downtown Roanoke’s history and restaurants in its Food & Culture Tour and Sunday Brunch Tour. Three new tours include A Taste of Naples, where guests make pizza and a cocktail under the guidance of a local chef and mixologist; Grandin Village Market to Table Tour, where participants shop the farmers market, tour the neighborhood, and then dine at a chef-prepared lunch; and Appalachian ’Shine and Spirits Tour, where guests experience the past and future of Franklin County moonshine.

Find more information about the brewery tour or any of Tour Roanoke’s offerings at their website: TourRoanoke.com. Or contact Larry Landolt at (540) 309-1781 orlarry@tourroanoke.com.

 

– Submitted by Larry Landolt,