Richard Pennington decided to act on his business impulse, for a change. It wasn’t unusual that he had a solid business idea, but he hadn’t before acted on one like this before. Standing at the crossroads of demand and opportunity, Pennington decided to launch Eastern Shore Brewz Krooz (the spelling is trademark-infringement related, not “cutesy”), a targeted tour bus to help people get efficiently and safely from brewery to brewery. The plan is to pick people up at their homes, or from their hotels, and return them safely after the tour.
Each tour will encompass three or four local breweries where participants will be given private brewery tours, have a sample of some of the brewery’s beer and generally get a sense of the regional beer culture. As he’s taken many of these tours himself, Pennington said he’s been so impressed by the dedication and the passion among the various brewers, it was something he felt like other people would want to experience as well.
“The whole idea is trying to educate people how hard it is,” he said of the physically demanding aspect of production brewing.
Most of the breweries in the region already have given Pennington the green light to jumpstart this project. Any business would be happy to have a person bring in 15 or so people on a given day. As with wine tours, participants often will purchase ancillary items (merch) or even growlers to enjoy the next day.
The first two breweries on the inaugural trip were Ocean City Brewery and Tall Tales Brewery.
One of the things local brewers do as well as anyone else on the planet is to hold multivalent tours. People who know nothing about the brewing process or craft brewing generally are not intimidated, but gently educated. People familiar with the process and the culture still have plenty to keep them interested, especially given they have the ear of the brewer or tour guide during the entire trip.
This aspect is not only the strength of the Eastern Shore Brewz Krooz tours but also of the craft industry here generally. The Shore is, at its base, a hospitality area. Brewing and craft beer generally are hospitable endeavors. The result is that the people running the tours, both on the brewery and on the bus, want their guests to have a good time. No one is alienated and, as Pennington pointed out, every brewery has at least one beer for everyone.
Because the tours can run a little long, it’s a good idea to pace yourself. But for those who don’t, Eastern Shore Brewz Krooz has what Pennington calls a chase car to transport the overserved home, if they don’t feel they can finish the tour, or clearly have had too much before reaching the last brewery