Do you want to cruise around Pittsburgh, tasting beers from some of the city’s independent breweries, without having to worry about a ride? Then Porter Tours, Pittsburgh’s newest craft beer tour, has you covered.
On Saturdays and Sundays, brothers Johnny Willett and Andy Clayton load up their teal and blue school bus, and shuttle patrons to breweries throughout the city.
A ticket for the bus includes the ride, several pours at each location, and the chance to spend an afternoon sampling beer, exploring Pittsburgh, and making new friends. Stops on the tour change regularly, but breweries like Dancing Gnome Brewery, Draai Laag Brewing, and Full Pint Brewing Company are some of the places the bus usually stops.
Six months ago, Porter Tours was just an idea. Willett and Clayton saw the opportunity for a service like this in Pittsburgh, and decided to act fast.
“It’s only been about five to six months, so it’s moved very quickly,” Willet says. “You know the first couple times Andy did it were testers, to test interest, and he was just driving people in his car.”
Fast forward a few months, and the brothers have a bus, and are building relationships with many of Pittsburgh’s craft breweries. The tour gives people a fun and safe way to explore many of the new breweries opening up around the city.
“I don’t know if it was us having the idea, or a lot of places popping up, but it was definitely right place, right time,” says Willet. “If we had done this even just a year ago, we would have only been able to go to three or four places. Now we have to choose which ones to go to.”
Even though it is technically a beer tour, the experience is about more than drinking.
“I don’t think of us as a party bus, and I don’t market ourselves that way,” Willet says. “The tours give people the chance to meet other like-minded people. I’ve seen some interesting groupings, but they have this one thing in common. That is what it is all about.”
At this point in our conversation someone interrupts us, wanting to know if Willet has any business cards. “This guy lives around here,” the man states. “He was asking, how do you get on the beer tour?”
“Just look us up,” Willet responds. “Porter Tours.”
The bus itself is certainly a statement – and a large part of the company’s marketing.
“We haven’t had to do much between the bus, and people recognize us immediately. When we walk into places we meet people, and they know we are a tour.”
And finally, the name? While Porter is first recognized as a type of beer, it also has a double meaning for the brothers. “Porter is our mother’s maiden name,” says Clayton.
Tickets for this experience can be bought in advance on the Porter Tours website. Tickets are $59 per person, and the tour lasts around three hours. Private events can also be booked through the website. Additionally, the code “sunday-funday” will give you 10% off Sunday tours throughout February.
Madeline Quigley is a writer living in Pittsburgh. She runs the travel and adventure website The Gal-Ivanter.