Heading into his senior year at the University of Vermont in 2008, Chad Brodsky didn't have a summer internship, so he created a business instead. Dressed in German lederhosen, Brodsky walked the busy streets of Burlington, Vt., convincing strangers to hop into his van to take tours of local breweries.
Since then, his summer job has blossomed into a beer-tourism company with locations in Washington, Philadelphia and Boston. Next month, Brodsky will launch City Brew Tours Baltimore, the company's fifth location, in an area he said is tailored for his business.
"Baltimore has this explosive craft-beer scene," Brodsky, 29, said by phone Monday. "You hear 'Baltimore' and hear 'Heavy Seas,' but my goal is to also get Waverly [Brewing Co.], Charm City [Meadworks] — all of these other breweries that are incredible, that are making some awesome beer — exposed to the masses."
City Brew Tours Baltimore launches Oct. 8, and tickets are available online now. Privates parties and tours can also be reserved via citybrewtours.com.
Participating breweries include Heavy Seas Beer, Oliver Brewing Co., Waverly Brewing Co., Charm City Meadworks, Brew House No. 16 and Peabody Heights Brewery, Brodsky said.
Tickets for a daytime tour (Saturday-Sunday) are $85, while a similar night tour costs $90 (Wednesday-Saturday). (A 15 percent discount will be applied on tours purchased through Halloween, Brodsky said.) Bad weather or a lack of tour-goers could lead to rescheduling. Attendees should wear closed-toed shoes.
A tour typically runs five hours, Brodsky said, and includes four brewery stops and tastings of approximately 15 brews. Participants won't have to worry about driving until the tour ends — a 15-passenger Ford Econoline van will pick them up from the Charles Center Metro station (99 W. Baltimore St.) in front of downtown's Hopkins Plaza and return them there at the end of the tour.
At each stop, either your driver or a brewery employee will lead a tour and provide information about beer production, Brodsky said. Groups, which range from four people to 14, also will receive a flight of beers to try at each stop.
"We're going through a history of beer, starting with precivilization and how we went from hunters and gatherers to the agricultural revolution because of beer," said, Brodsky, who's based in Boston.
Fred Crudder, director of marketing and hospitality for Heavy Seas, said he's seen similar businesses work in other cities, and was excited to hear City Brew Tours was expanding to Baltimore. He has confidence in their tour guides telling Heavy Seas' story, and believes the tours will help forge stronger bonds between consumers and local companies.
"This gives people a great opportunity to get a much deeper personal attachment to Maryland beer," Crudder said. "It makes it so user-friendly for the customer to use their service that I think it's going to increase visitation to Maryland breweries greatly."
The third stop of each tour will be Mount Vernon's Brew House No. 16, where a lunch or dinner meant to be paired with the beer samples will be served, he said.
Some major Baltimore beer companies are missing from the tour, including Union Craft Brewing in Hampden and the Brewer's Art in Mount Vernon.
Union was contacted by City Brew Tours months ago, founder Jon Zerivitz said in an email. Union declined to participate because they did not agree with certain aspects of the tour model, such as bringing in visitors during closed-to-the-public production hours and potentially using City Brew Tour guides instead of Union's own employees.
"Their program just wasn't working for us," Zerivitz said.
Brodsky said he hopes to expand the list of participating breweries in the near future.
While City Brew Tours Baltimore will launch as a two-person operation (led by Mid-Atlantic manager Barry Hansen), Brodsky has his mind set on expansion. He sees Baltimore following the footsteps of Boston, where he has 10 tour guides giving 10 tours on most Saturdays.
Brodsky sees plenty of room for growth here, he said, based on recent visits when he saw the city's love for craft beer, and the fact Baltimore has recently hosted Homebrew Con.
"We're going to see a ton of people from the D.C. area coming into Baltimore and vice versa, going on the tours," Brodsky said. "I'm quite excited. I could see us running probably eight to 15 tours a week in Baltimore within the next year and a half."