Lou’s Brew Bus begins craft beer tours Saturday – The Courier-Journal

The day has come: No longer will Louisville’s craft beer scene belong solely to a group of breweries scattered between neighborhoods, but it will soon extend to a set of secondary businesses devoted to promoting the brews with the launch of Lou’s Brew Bus — a company that plans to provide public and private tasting tours.

The evolution shouldn’t come as a surprise. With four new breweries already opened in Kentuckiana this year and more on the way — along with an increase in partnerships between breweries and local eateries — it’s safe to say craft beer has become firmly ingrained in the city.

It was only time before new companies joined Mayor Greg Fischer’s efforts in building tourism around the industry.

“Consider us sort of like a marketing engine, sort of a way to introduce people to craft beer,” said Mike Stokes, founder of Lou’s Brew Bus. “We’re complementary to the breweries. If it wasn’t for them making great beer, we wouldn’t be in existence. With us, we’re going to be able to bring a lot of customers their way.”

Stokes is the man behind Cincy Brew Bus, a business that has offered craft beer tasting tours in Cincinnati for the past two years. He said he first became interested in Louisville’s beer scene after reading a book about the city’s brewing history by local author Kevin Gibson and started looking at bringing the tours to Kentuckiana earlier this year.

The tours are now set to start this weekend with a route that will take up to 35 guests on a five-hour trip between four breweries: Against the Grain, Goodwood, Great Flood and Flat 12.

Guests, of course, will get to try beer at each stop. But the tours are also meant to be educational, with behind-the-scenes looks at the brewing process and tips on how to taste different beers, Stokes said.

“Even though you do have fun and drink beer, you’re getting something in addition to that,” Stokes said. “Though after the third or fourth brewery, I don’t know how much they retain.”

To keep the tours as safe as possible, Stokes said he has partnered with Uber and the Hyatt Regency to offer discounts for customers who need rides home or a hotel near the drop-off site.

Stokes said the initial public tours will act as somewhat of a first phase to determine what kind of investment Lou’s Brew Bus should make in the future.

In Cincinnati, the tours now attract between 150 to 200 people each weekend, and the company has purchased its own buses to provide for smaller, private groups. In Louisville, the company will rent buses until it determines if there’s a market for the tours. But Stokes said he isn’t worried.

“Every great beer town — which, I would consider Louisville a great beer town — has a brew bus,” he said. “We want to introduce more people to local craft beer. That’s why we got into it in Cincinnati. … It’s something that can help educate the community and give people a great option for when they’re looking for something to do in Louisville.”

Remember to drink smart, drink safe. Reach reporter Bailey Loosemore at 502-582-4646 or bloosemore@courier-journal.com.

LOU’S BREW BUS

What: The founder of Cincy Brew Bus has brought his craft beer tasting tours to Louisville with a five-hour trip that will transport guests between four local breweries, educating them on the brewing process and how to taste beers along the way. The first four breweries included in the tour will be Against the Grain, Flat 12, Goodwood and Great Flood.

When: The tour begins at 11:40 a.m. Saturdays.

Where: Meet at Gordon Biersch, 400 S. 4th St.

Cost: $50 per person, $30 for designated drivers.

More info: Visit lousbrewbus.com.