For $120, you get round-trip transportation from the Mountain View Calrain station, lunch/snacks, tastings at the breweries and beer trivia (and prizes). The tour will make stops at my absolute favorite spot for beer over the hill, Beer Thirty Bottle Shop and Pour House, as well as Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing (if they have their lavender IPA on tap, I highly recommend it), Santa Cruz Ale Works Brewing and Boulder Creek Brewery. (Pro tip: If you're hungry at Beer Thirty, you can call in to-go orders from a next-door restaurant, either to pick up or be delivered straight to your table in the outdoor beer garden.)
The Nov. 29 tour, two days after Thanksgiving, doubles as a "Giving Thanks" tour, so bring 10 canned goods or more and receive 10 percent off your next Ale Trails tour. All items will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
This is one of the inaugural tours for Kerri Carder-McCoy's brew-tours company, which she is officially launching with her first tour on Nov. 15. The model: For a fee, she'll do the work of organizing transportation (from a Bay Area Caltrain station) and booking tours at notable breweries throughout the Bay. Carder-McCoy said she anticipates running tours every other Saturday, taking about 18 to 20 people on each.
"Why drive when you can ride on a comfy shuttle, while meeting new people, enjoying beer, while not having to drive?" she said.
The idea for Ale Trails was born out of the Milbrae resident's love for hops, which she previously blogged about but eventually turned into a business idea.
"By day M-F I am a Conference Manager, on weekends I grow hops, visit with local breweries, homebrew and take friends/family all over the Peninsula, Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz to explore the wonderful beer scene that we have flourishing,"Carder-McCoy wrote in an email.
Though Ale Trails is at this point secondary to her 9-to-5 corporate job, she said she hopes it takes off enough that she can eventually take it on full time.
The Bay Area Ale Trails website lists breweries in the Peninsula, South Bay, East Bay, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and even Monterey that will at some point become stops on a tour.
Carder-McCoy said the Peninsula tours are on hold until next year, but could include stops at Steins and Tied House in Mountain View, Gordon Biersch in Palo Alto and Freewheel Brewing in Redwood City. Stay tuned.
For more information and to book the Nov. 29 Mountain View to Santa Cruz tour, go to bayareatrails.com.