A VCU graduate is the latest entrepreneur to tap into Richmond’s ever-expanding craft beer scene.
After buying a 14-passenger minibus on eBay and driving it to Virginia from New York, Tommy Miller this month opened Richmond Brewery Tours. The tours run Thursday through Saturday and include stops at three local breweries.
“These tours are for everyone,” said Miller, 35. “We want to attract craft beer novices and also connoisseurs.”
Each trip kicks off with a quick beer tasting course at the downtown Capital Ale House and stops at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and Legend Brewery. The third stop will alternate between Center of the Universe in Ashland and Goochland’s Midnight Brewery.
Miller said every stop will include face time with brewery staff. The introductory ticket price is $40, but that’s subject to change.
Miller came up with the idea last year after a trip to San Diego, a city with several brewery tour companies. He said he wanted to be the first person to bring the model to Richmond.
“It’s going to be great for locals and tourists coming through,” Miller said. “I eventually want to build the business into a resource for new breweries looking to open.”
Miller financed most of the startup costs out of his personal savings, but he’s hosting an online campaign to raise $6,500 for upgrades to the minibus.
He said he could eventually expand the business to tour breweries in Charlottesville or Nelson County.
“I want to make sure this business is a finely-tuned machine,” Miller said. “After that, I might start looking at other markets.”
Miller works full-time as existing business manager for Hanover County Economic Development. He’s conducting the tours himself for now but plans to hire an employee down the line.
The local craft beer boom has inspired other four-wheeled startups: Michael Horn recently launched Old Dominion Mobile Canning, a portable canning operation that’s aimed at the growing ranks of craft breweries from Raleigh to Washington.
More reading: Richmond’s Year of the Beer