Inspiration hit Bob and Shelle Campbell during a trip to Indianapolis. They spotted a fella in a brewery wearing a T-shirt promoting the Indy Brew Bus — a shuttle that takes craft beer fans on tours of local breweries.
What a cool idea, they thought.
Later, they ran into the Chicago Brew Bus during a visit to that city. And their friends chimed in about spotting Brewvana in Portland, Ore. Then, they saw the Tampa Bay Brew Bus while in Florida this past Christmas.
Fate was definitely trying to tell them something.
So Bob, 58, and Shelle, 56, who live in Strongsville, bought a 20-passenger shuttle from the Detroit Bus Co. and launched the Cleveland Brew Bus in late May. They’ve since added an eight-passenger shuttle.
The company hauls people to breweries throughout Northeast Ohio or even takes them on special out-of-town trips to Buffalo, Columbus and Pittsburgh. Typically, local tours feature three breweries, a pretzel necklace, pint glass and pre-arranged tastings for $55. People aren’t limited to the tastings and can buy whatever they want during a brewery stop.
The tours generally last around four hours, with passengers spending about 45 minutes at each brewery.
People are welcome to bring their own beer on the bus.
Shelle rolled her eyes recalling that one passenger brought Bud Light. “Really? Really? We’re going on craft brewery tours and you’re bringing Bud Light on our bus?” she remembered joking with him.
The Cleveland Brew Bus doesn’t want to be known as a “party bus” — a way for people to get wasted while not driving. “We want you to have fun,” Shelle said. “We want you to really enjoy yourself. But our objective is not for you to get hammered out of your mind.”
During the tours, Shelle, whose regular job is teaching fifth-graders in North Olmsted, educates passengers about everything from the history of the breweries to different beer styles to how to taste beer.
Getting beer drinkers to pay attention, especially after a few drinks, can be a challenge.
“It’s easier teaching fifth-graders, definitely,” she said. “But it’s more fun doing this.”
Shelle hesitates when asked about her favorite breweries. But she does mention Indigo Imp Brewery in Cleveland because of brewer/owner Matt Chappell’s passion and the fact that the brewery uses open fermentation. Rocky River Brewing in Rocky River and Market Garden Brewery in Cleveland also rank high because they’ve been so welcoming, she said.
“Each one has its own personality,” Shelle said.
For more details, including the days and hours the buses are available, click here.