Brewery tour to include bus rides

Published Tuesday, October 2, 2018
by Molly M. Fleming

A new business has emerged as the city’s brewery count has increased.

OKC Brew Tours is offering customers a bus ride to three downtown breweries while introducing riders to different beers.

Co-founder and co-owner Brian Spomer said he and his wife, Kristi Spomer, went on a similar ride in Montreal, Canada while visiting with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. The beer tour took them to parts of the city they likely wouldn’t have visited.

“We thought, ‘Oklahoma City needs something like this with all the breweries popping up,'” said Brian Spomer.

Spomer said that while he considers himself an entrepreneur, he often doesn’t follow through with his plans. But as more breweries started opening their doors, it seemed like too good of an idea to pass up.

The company was formed in May. He and business partner Tyler Miller went in together and bought a bus and had some repairs done to it. As the business was coming together, they quickly learned why some people might not have gone through with their own plans. The insurance policy was $1 million, which was the cheapest Spomer could find.

“I spent two weeks calling insurance companies,” he said. “It almost made me not do it because it’s so expensive.”

But OKC Brew Tours is a side hustle for Miller and Spomer. Miller works full time for a biopharmaceutical manufacturing company. Spomer is a landman in the oil and gas industry, and sells residential property. Kristi Spomer helps with marketing and social media, and works full-time at Manhattan Construction.

Brian Spomer said they know the operation has the potential to make money, but they’re not expecting it immediately. Right now, they’re excited to be part of the city’s tourism industry.

“It’s something that as the city has grown, we want to contribute to that,” Miller said. “An opportunity arose and we want to have a good time with it.”

Miller is the tour guide and bus driver. He and Spomer take on the task each week of visiting the breweries and deciding what they’ll have people try.

At each stop, people try four samples, which are already determined before they arrive. Spomer said one of the goals is to introduce people to different beer styles. The tours can be booked for as few as two people and as many as 12 people. Private rides are available as well.

“We’ve had multiple people on the tours that have said that they wouldn’t have tried this beer until we introduced them to it,” Spomer said. “That has to be the coolest part.”

On the tours, customers get a score card so they can keep up with what beers they like and where. They can purchase beer at the brewery and bring it on the bus as well.

The tours, which cost $65 per ride, also generate interest for more tours, Miller said. He’s been at a stop sign and seen people talking to each other, asking about the tours.

The bus runs on Friday and Saturday. With the new liquor laws, the taprooms will be able to stay open later, which will be helpful to OKC Brew Tours. With the former 9 p.m. closing time, last call was at 8:30 p.m. When the tour started at 6 p.m., it was tough to get to all the stops.

Spomer said the goal is to offer more tours, and even earlier since the new laws allow by-the-glass alcohol sales at 8 a.m. Miller said they’d eventually like to add another bus.

Another brewery tour has already seen some growth, and it’s been open only since March. Ride OKC co-owner Ryan Fogle is offering bicycle tours every day, where in the past the rides were only available on the weekend. The company offers special-edition rides where people can try cookies or even pizza at different shops in downtown.

“But the bikes and brews tour has been our best seller,” Fogle said.

The tours are taken mostly by locals, which was surprising to he and his wife and business partner Ashley Fogle. They thought they’d see mostly tourists on the bikes.

He said he sees OKC Brew Tours as a competitor, but he thinks there’s enough room for both businesses in the city. His tours offer information about history and architecture. He’s an architect by trade.

“Ours is supposed to be an all-encompassing cultural tour instead of just beer,” he said. “I think another difference is we stop at all five breweries and do one taster.”

The bus tour was bound to happen, he said. Tulsa has brewery tours available on bikes and buses. Not everyone is able to ride a bike and the weather can ruin a bike tour’s plans, he said.

“I think we need it,” he said. “Bring it on.”

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