Photos: Chelsea Bailey

City Brew Tours Brings Unique Brewery Experiences to DC and NoVA

Like the leaves, craft beer changes with the season. From Oktoberfests to pumpkin ales, there is a perfect fall beer for every drinker just like there is a perfect brewery tour for every experience. Whether you want to explore breweries in DC or escape the city, City Brew Tours (CBT) is a local company that offers a variety of experiences for every kind of beer lover. They provide all-inclusive brewery tours in and out of the city with carefully selected beers at each of their stops, behind-the-scenes brewery access and food. Each tour is led by one of their expert guides, who provides their guests with a unique local brewery experience. Founded five years ago, CBT operates in close to 10 cities including DC and recently launched a weekly NoVA Brew Tour. We caught up with CBT’s Washington DC area city coordinator Steven Quartel to learn more.

On Tap: What’s your role at CBT?
Steven Quartel: When I’m not coordinating logistics for our business in the DC area, I can be found at breweries giving tours, “researching” 16-oz. at a time when something new is in on tap or training our beer guides.

OT: What qualifications does one need to be a
CBT guide?
SQ: If you’re great with people and have a passion for beer and want to share that with folks but need to learn more, we can make you a beer expert.

OT: When someone comes out for their first CBT, what are you hoping that they take away from the experience?
SQ: We specialize in creating unforgettable experiences. If we can create moments that stick with people long after their tour is done, we’ve succeeded.

OT: What is included with a CBT ticket?
SQ: We offer a few different packages including private tours, safe transportation, an expert beer guide, beer and food. This also includes our curated pairing plate and a beer flight.

OT: Are the routes the same for every tour?
SQ: They are not. We strive to develop close relationships with several breweries. This allows us to vary the routes and offer an exclusive look behind the scenes at many places.

OT: How are the breweries on the CBT routes selected?
SQ: We look for breweries of all kinds so that we can highlight all manner of production techniques, beer programs, and the human stories that make each brewery unique.

OT: What was the inspiration for the new NoVA tour that launched in September?
SQ: It’s no secret that Virginia has definitely been having a moment in terms of craft breweries. We’ve been looking at branching out into NoVA for two years now.

OT: What went into building out the NoVA tour?
SQ: We wanted to take the city tour model and expanded it to a deluxe version in a more suburban environment. I worked hand-in-hand with the GMs and chefs at Crafthouse and Fire Works Pizza to put together an extraordinary beer and food pairing experience.

OT: What is your favorite thing about giving tours?
SQ: Seeing someone find their new favorite beer, especially if it’s one I picked out for them.

OT: How did you get started in beer?
SQ: My wife. I was more of a dark liquor drinker coming out of college. She worked at a brewery and introduced me to Belgians, IPAs, nut browns and stouts.

OT: What is your favorite fall beer style?
SQ: Brown ales. The Boxcar Brown from Caboose, the [Northern] Nut Brown at The Public Option [and] Wallops Island from Rocket Frog are perfect once the temps start cooling.

OT: Where do you go for a pint when you’re off the clock?
SQ: Fire Works Pizza Cascades [in Sterling, Virginia] or Crafthouse. I love poring over the tap list at Hops N Shine in Del Ray. When I’m in DC: Free State, Brookland Pint or District ChopHouse.

OT: Are there any upcoming beer releases that you are looking forward to?
SQ: Grampus, a nut-brown ale from Hellbender, and Maniacal IPA from Port City. I love seeing creativity from brewpub collaborations and smaller-batch brews from 3 Stars, Right Proper and Lake Anne Brew House.

CBT’s NoVA Brew Tours are available on Sundays, DC tours are offered daily. Tour availability and tickets are available at www.citybrewtours.com/dc. Use the code ONTAP15 by October 31 to save 15 percent on your NoVA tour booking.

Writer bio: Follow Chelsea Bailey and her beer adventures on Instagram @21stamendmentgirl.