ORLANDO, Fla. – A new business coming to Central Florida plans to tap into the region's burgeoning craft beer industry in a way that until now, hasn't been done locally.
Hop On! Central Florida Brewery Tours will bus patrons from brewery to brewery along the Central Florida Ale Trail beginning Aug. 3.
Co-founders Kevin Jones and Ivan Rios said that for now, they're focusing on stops in Orange and Seminole counties and they plan to eventually expand to Volusia County and possibly beyond.
Jones said the idea for the brewery tour bus business came when a friend who was planning a trip to Orlando asked Hop on! partner Brian Quain, who hosts the What Ales Ya podcast, to put together a list of his top recommended breweries in the area.
The three men put together a mini-tour for their vacationing friend and it made them realize that the region could benefit from having a brewery bus in the area full-time, especially considering how much Central Floridians love their craft beer.
“It’s an industry that we love and it’s definitely something that we want to support and nurture,” Jones said.
Jones, Rios and Quain began bringing their idea to fruition in March. Since then they've managed to partner with the Central Florida Ale Trail, purchase a 12-person bus and done their part to market their new venture.
”We’ve basically taken it from inception to booking reservations in that amount of time,” Jones said.
Hop On! is currently offering reservations for four different tours, each of which will be about four hours long and will include stops at at least three different breweries.
During the commute, a guide will offer in-bus entertainment for guests that will include beer, theme park and Orlando trivia, banter with patrons and brewery information. As the service expands, Jones said they hope to get a TV installed in the bus so they can stream sporting events and other games.
Drinking will also be an integral part of the in-bus experience. Most breweries offer crowlers or growlers that can be enjoyed when the tour hits the road.
“You can show up with beer if you want, but we're encouraging that everyone buy the beer with the breweries that we’re visiting," Jones said. "The whole point is to get everyone familiar with local breweries and beer."
As the partners prepare to begin tours on Aug. 3, they said they couldn't be more excited.
“So far the reaction has been phenomenal," Jones said. “It’s kind of been a little bit overwhelming with the support we’ve been shown.”
Hop On! is currently offering four different tour packages:
Crowler Tour: Four-hour tour that starts at $35 per person. Offered Monday through Wednesday and stops at three breweries.
Growler Tour: Starts at $55 per person for a four-hour tour. Offered Thursday through Sunday and stops at three breweries. Patrons will receive a beer flight at each location.
What Ales Ya Signature Tour: Offered only on Thursday, the four-hour tour, hosted by Quain, will stop at five Orlando-area breweries. Tickets start at $85 per person.
Orlando City Ticket and Pregame Package: Four-hour, three-stop tour starts before the Orlando City Soccer game. Tickets start at $99 and include a ticket to see the game plus pick-up and drop-off.
All of the tours, except for the Orlando City package, begin at Broken Cauldron Taproom and Brewery.
For more information or to make a reservation, click here.