Dubbed the “Hop and Go,” the 14-passenger green bus — identifiable by being distinctly a 14-passenger green bus — operates on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4-7:00 p.m. and will run through October, free of charge and sans reservations.
Don Littlefield, “assistant principal” with the company, said the shuttle is going to raise awareness among craft thirsty travelers that might not realize the cluster of beer options available to them in the city (It’s an educational institution, after all, he insists).
“Millions of people visit Portland, Maine, and they don’t have a car,” he said. “They don’t realize there are all these craft breweries, they’re all in walking distance, but can’t physically see them downtown.”
The bus, in addition to stopping at a number of breweries and restaurants, will frequent area hotels along its route to let tourists know of nearby brews.
In a nutshell, the service gives a free ride to — and back from if timed right — a brewery in the area, with the mission of bringing “new people to the doors of our partners,” said Littlefield.
To keep it free for consumers, the company charged various rates to the businesses along the route, depending on which will get the most out of the service. For instance, all a hotel really gets is added value for their customers. The breweries, meaderies and cideries along the way, however, “they’re going to get people through the door who otherwise wouldn’t get there,” said Littlefield.
The Maine Brew Bus, which launched in 2012, has no intention of expanding the calendar for the “Hop and Go” service this year, but Littlefield said that’s something to be considered for next year, should it prove popular. Luckily for them, the strength of the Brew Bus business is tangentially tied to the growth of the craft industry at large, and Portland has become reputable in that regard.
“When Zach [Poole] started the company, there were 37 breweries in the state,” noted Littlefield. As of this past May, according to the Maine Brewers Guild, there are 53 operational breweries in the state, with at least five in planning to open this year.
Since launching as a two-man operation in 2012, the Maine Brew Bus has since grown its team to 10 employees as well.
The “Hop and Go” bus schedule is pictured below.