Drinking And [Not] Driving
THERE IS A MINI-ECONOMY RISING IN THE BAY AREA OF GUIDED BEER-RELATED TOURS THAT LET YOU GET YOUR [CRAFT] DRINK ON WHILE LEAVING YOUR KEYS AT HOME.
Living in the Bay Area, craft brew lovers are not for lacking when it comes to finding a local brewery or tap room serving up their favorite — whether it be a new hazy IPA, a newly-tapped session, a collab, or a reliable stout. The challenge is trying to make a run of more than one destination — there’s the hassle of driving, parking, and the inevitable moral quandary of driving after drinking (even though you are a very moderate and careful drinker).
Thankfully there has sprung up a side business that caters to your intentions — companies will either cart you around in bus (or train); or, as part of a rising group of “pedal-powered” tours, you can work off your beer calories in transit. Following is a roundup of some drinking — without driving — options for you to consider your next night out and about in the Bay Area.
Bay Area Brewery Tours
Bay Area Brewery Tours offers beer enthusiasts the insiders view of local craft breweries. On the tour you will visit a variety of breweries, each with a character as rich and individual as the beer they make. At the breweries you will taste award-winning beers while learning all about them. Whether you are by yourself or in a large group, Bay Area Brewery Tours has the perfect package for you.
Beer By Bart
Some local geniuses put together an incredibly useful (and regularly updated) list of all the breweries and craft beer bars that are walking distance from a BART station. Create your own self-guided tour, and then get some friends together and plan to knock out different sections each week.
Blue Brew Bus
Formed in 2017 by Brian Luke, the Blue Brew Bus (say that five times fast after three pints, lol) offers all-inclusive beer tours in the East Bay. Tours include three breweries, and the costs (usually around $89/person) includes tasting fees, a souvenir glass, a private tour, discounts, and tapped beer on the bus. Calling Livermore home, their stomping grounds currently involve home base, San Leandro, and Oakland/Alameda, with some new tours planned soon, including A’s tailgate/game packages, distilleries, and more.
Cali Party Bus offers impressive party buses perfect for Bay Area brewery tours. If you’re getting a small crew together, opt for the intimate Mercedes Sprinter Limo Bus, which has room for up to fourteen guests. If you’re rolling deep, check out the ultra-luxurious and spacious Tiffany Limo Bus for up to forty four guests. When you book with Cali Party Bus, your limo bus will boast nightclub quality sound and lighting, wet bars, plush wrap-around seating, and more.
North Bay Brewery Tours
North Bay Brewery Tours was started by three craft beer fanatics on a mission to expose people to all the amazing beer brewed locally in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The company specializes in guided tours of local beer destinations, and is committed to bringing the public to great beer while at the same time keeping tipsy drivers off the road.
Sacramento River Train (Beer Tour)
Sacramento has been witnessing a brewery revival as of late, and the Sacramento River Train, launched in 2005, is one of the most unique ways to take in some of the local craft beers. Operating year-round, the train offers several themed rides, including a Wild West dinner and the two-and-a-half hour Beer Train. Costing $70/person, guests get a tasting glass, and six pours of their choice while enjoying live music amidst the passing scenery of the local countryside.
San Francisco on Tap
Formed in 2015, San Francisco on Tap offers four-hour walking tours that visit local breweries to sample a variety of craft beer. They pair these beers with a wide variety of talking points to raise your beer IQ as you also learn about the neighborhood you’re exploring with your new drinking buddies.
They currently have three tours, the original two are called Big Sippin’ in SoMa (Saturdays) and Celebrate The Haight (Sundays). These tours visit three breweries, include a brewery tour, and highlight the neighborhood as they walk from one destination to the next. During the week, their Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach tour has become the best way for visiting beer drinkers to learn about San Francisco. Half beer tour, half neighborhood tour, it brings the city alive, while allowing plenty of time to drink and learn about local beer and have fun.
San Jose Brew Bike
For roughly $35 a seat (private charters available and encouraged), you get to bike around San José, stopping and sampling beers along a two-hour route that includes stops at 55 South, Divine Winery Tasting Room, FountainHead Bar, Ludwig’s German Table, Original Gravity Public House, San Pedro Square Market Bar, Uproar Brewing, and more.
Vantigo VW Brewery Tour
San Francisco’s craft beer community is a close-knit one, and you’ll experience it like a local on Vantigo’s San Francisco Brewery Tour, powered by fully-restored 1970’s VW Buses (and a newly-restored 1951 Ford F5 Mini bus). With locations currently in San Francisco and Paso Robles, brew tours start at $99/person – private tours also available. One of their most popular packages is the private Highway 1 Beer Tour in Half Moon Bay, where guests cruise down the coast in the VW buses, tasting great beer along the way. The WW2 and Brew tour, out of Paso Robles, is also a unique tasting experience, combining visiting two breweries and a World War 2 museum, complete with airfield.
Velocipede Tours (Oakland Pedal Tours)
Formed in the Spring of 2016, Velocipede offers the Bay Area’s first Beer Bike, taking customers on a pedal-powered beer party. Whether you choose the two- or three-hour ride, you bring the music and your friends as you hop from one stop to the next. The company’s Jack London headquarters has several bikes available that each seat up to fourteen pedal-pumping people. With a one-mile cover radius, guests have more than thirty breweries, bars, wineries, distilleries, and a cider house at their disposal.
Their most popular package is their two-hour tour, which runs $350 for the full bike of up to fourteen people (only $25/person on a full ride). Corporate team-building packages available.
Whole Brew World
Founded in 2015 by Jean Calixto, the Danville-based business has four different tour itineraries available: The Golden West Tour visits three breweries in Oakland and Berkeley; the Blue Collar Tour includes three breweries in Alameda and San Leandro; Valley Tour includes three breweries in Livermore; and, for some exercise, try their Uptown Beer Walk, which includes lunch in a beer garden, two brewery visits, and exploring Oakland’s Uptown district on foot while learning about Oakland’s rich beer history. All tours include beer tasting, round-trip transportation, snacks and drinks, a friendly guide, and more. Prices range from $89-$99/per person. A private beer tour is also available offering gourmet boxed meals and a souvenir tote bag. Seasonal tours also available.
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