What is Brewvana & Why Did I Take a Tour?
Brewvana was founded by Ashley Salvitti in 2011 as a way to guide people in the many choices available in the Portland beer scene. She aimed to create something educational, but also fun. The premise is pretty simple. A tour guide takes a group of thirsty passengers around to check out breweries in a Brewvana themed bus.
The tours are all-inclusive. That means that you don’t have to worry about finding food, driving, or busting out your wallet (unless you’d like to buy something to-go or throw the server a tip). They drive you around, give you snacks, and offer tastes of a few beers at each location. Everything about that seems pretty great to me!
Ashley reached out to me to let me know that they’d updated their tour routes for the year, and asked if I’d like to participate. I’d never tried Brewvana, and after reading up on it was definitely intrigued. I made arrangements to do the “Pacific Northwest is Best” tour, which I’ve documented for you below.
Details on the new tour routes can also be found at the end of this post. Enjoy the ride! 😏
“Pacific Northwest is Best” Brewvana Tour
The Pacific Northwest is Best tour included four stops at local Portland breweries that represented the city’s rich brew culture. I was instructed to meet the tour group at Growler Guys in Southeast Portland, to get name tags and go over the rules for the day. Each person signed an agreement about behavior, a reminder to be respectful while we were out and about.
Once we boarded the bus, our tour guide, April, had us all introduce ourselves and say where we were from. We went over etiquette, and she encouraged us to have a good time. She then revealed our first destination: Culmination Brewing in NE Portland.
When we walked in, there were cute reserved signs on the tables indicating where to sit. April handed out tasting glasses, notebooks, pens, and pretzel necklaces. After she procured our first pitcher to share, she started explaining the common ingredients in beer.
We got to try malts and smell hops, always fun. She also gave pretty thorough notes on how to evaluate a beer: Color, aroma, texture, etc. Each beer that she brought us to try was described in a way that was accurate and easy to understand.
We tried four brews: Pilsner, Yuzu Wit, Obscured by Clouds Hazy IPA, and Phaedrus IPA.
Laurelwood Brewing Co
Our next stop was Laurelwood Brewing Co, located off NE Sandy. We were invited back into the brewery for a tour, guided by Head Brewer Eric Ebel. He showed us the mill, brewdeck, and fermentation tanks, giving an overview of their process.
Again, we tried four different beers before we were on our way: Pink Guava Laurelweizen, Kids These Daze IPA, Rye IPA, and Cherry Busey Kettle Sour.
Ex Novo Brewing
Waiting for us at our third NE Portland brewery were lovely appetizers: Bacon in a glass, fried pickles, and sweet potato hush puppies with honey butter. After devouring our delicious treats, we sampled a few Ex Novo beers. Since we’d experienced a range of styles at our previous locations, we were allowed to pick a couple of the beers at this stop.
We went for: Perle Haggard Pilsner, SIPA-licious NE IPA, Marryin’ Berries Sour Gose, and Most Interesting Mexican Lager.
At this stop, we were given the opportunity to fill out postcards to send to those who couldn’t be with us. This was a thoughtful touch to the experience, and they even offered to mail them for us.
Our last stop of the day was North Portland’s Upright Brewing. At this point our pretzel necklaces were running low, but our spirits were high. We split the tour group into teams and did trivia while tasting beer in the basement brewery. We had a chance to meet Alex, the head brewer, as well! Afterwards, we loaded the bus and headed back to our original meeting spot.
Beers we partook in: Four Play saison, Special Herbs peach saison, and Single Cask Saison Vert.
Would I do another Brewvana Tour?
I loved the spirit of the day. It wasn’t just about learning the in’s and out’s of the beer and breweries. It was about celebrating beer culture and making friends.
It was awesome to see other people get into beer. We had several people on our bus that hadn’t experimented with styles as much as I have, and it made me incredibly happy when they liked new-to-them beers.
Since I’ve toured many breweries, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Brewvana. I came away learning something new from each location, and wasn’t bored hearing things that I already was familiar with. If anything, it was a good refresher!
I would definitely go again. 😄
New Brewvana Tours for You to Try
Want more details on the new tours? Below you’ll find an overview of each of the four line ups. Visit the Brewvana website to reserve your spot!
Days: Tuesdays – Sundays
Start time and duration: 12:40pm, 4.5hrs
Cost: $89/person, all inclusive
Description: West coast is the best coast! Visiting 4 breweries that represent the quality and innovation of PNW beer and why Portland has become Beer City USA.
Coffee, Beer and Donuts (CBD for short)
Days: Saturdays (eventually Fridays and Sundays too)
Start time and duration: 9:40pm, 3hrs
Cost: $69/person, all inclusive
Description: What could be a better way to explore the coffee & donuts scenes in Portland than to end with craft beer! Visit a roastery, eat donuts and taste beer too!
Down to Ferment (DTF for short)
Days: Fridays (eventually Sundays too)
Start time and duration: 2:40pm, 3.5hrs
Cost: $89/person, all inclusive
Description: Zymurgy is the study of fermentation- Portland is all about some fermented beverages. Taste some kombucha, cider and beer on this gluten free tour.
Start time and duration: 3:40pm, 3.5hr
Cost: $99/person, all inclusive
Description: Beer + whiskey = match made in heaven! This tour visits a brewery, distillery and Portland favorite dinner spot for a beer + whiskey pairing dinner.