Brews, buses and buddies: Hamilton tour group offers unique experience
Beers, buses and buddies. What more could one ask for?
Well, throw a little Steel Town backdrop and you've got yourself a pretty amazing day.
In the past several years, Hamilton's craft brewery scene has grown in leaps and bounds and the city, as a result, has become a destination for beer lovers everywhere.
And now a local tour company is hoping to be your guide through this unique Hamilton scene.
Waterdown-based Redback Tours takes pride in all that Hamilton has to offer; they host various bus tours that explore our city's waterfalls and historical sites but in the last couple of years they saw an opportunity in Hamilton's craft beer boom.
"The [craft brewers] are doing a lot to help revitalize Hamilton," said Paul Ferris owner of Redback Tours and operator of Original Hamilton Beer Tours. "It's an experience where [tourists] get to learn about the craft of brewing and support local businesses."
Original Hamilton Beer Tours offer public tours on the last Sunday of every month. For these tours, the public can catch the bus at a couple of designated stops throughout the city.
They also offer personalized private tours for groups of between eight and 22. In these tours, the groups are ushered to three or four breweries where they will get a chance to sample some local flavours and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of where the magic happens.
"We want people to know that you don't need to go to Niagara to get this kind of experience," Angela said. "It's right here and we strive to make it enjoyable and effortless."
And effortless it really is. When you sign up for a tour, you answer a quick questionnaire and decide where and when you want to be picked up and Angela and Paul take care of the rest.
You're in good hands with these two: both are experienced travellers with a background in tourism. Paul, in fact, has worked tours all over the world, so they know how to build a program that will provide the biggest bang for their clients' buck.
As part of the tour package, they even arrange for food: at one of the stops, pizza from Red Door Cucina in Dundas is served to the group. They also offer water and snacks on the bus between stops.
"This is not a booze cruise," says Paul. "We think it's nice for people to experience the range of breweries in Hamilton."
Angela adds that you still get a chance to try a lot of different things. "At the end of the day, you're still feeling pretty good."
"It's good value for money," Paul chimes in. With prices from $95 a head, it's hard to argue with that.
Paul and Angela Ferris, of Waterdown, are the owners of Redback Tours and operators of Original Hamilton Beer Tours.
One of the more popular stops they include on their tours is the West Avenue Cider House in Freelton.
"It's not the cider of the '90s," Angela says. "It's more like a sparkling wine cider."
She says it's the perfect stop for someone who isn't necessarily the biggest beer fan.
For those who don't want to drink on the tour, while there is no special pricing, some of the breweries will offer non-alcoholic, locally made beverages, Angela said.
No two tours are alike, either. Each tour is designed around a client's preferences as well as the availability of the breweries. Also, Paul and Angela like to spread the love.
"Everyone at the breweries is fantastic and excited about sharing their work," Angela said.
"We try to share it around," Paul said. "We try to switch it up [among all the breweries] as often as we can."
Photos courtesy Redback Tours