In 2012 there were two. Now, Portland’s dueling beer bus tours, founded within a month of each other, have consolidated.
Zach Poole, founder of The Maine Brew Bus, purchased Maine Beer Tours on Friday.
The deal adds another green bus to the brewery visiting fleet, and means there’s now only one company in Portland now driving you to drink locally. Poole was approached by Maine Beer Tours co-owner Mark Stevens to buy his business. Stevens, according to a press release, wanted to spend more time with his young family.
In expansion mode, Poole, who last year launched The Mass Brew Bus in Boston, jumped at the opportunity. Besides increasing tours as more breweries, wineries and distilleries from Kittery to Brunswick open, he has no plans to change his formula. The Maine Brew Bus generated $400,000 in sales last year and business has doubled year after year since 2013, said Poole.
“We will stick with what’s worked for us. Our prices will stay the same. We are tweaking their tours,” said Poole, whose business is based on beer education. The one big change from the last management: Drinking won’t be allowed on the bus, he said.
Maine Beer Tours, which operated on a consolidated schedule and skewed toward younger beer drinkers, will not entirely go away. Under Poole’s leadership, it will resurface as a slightly different concept down the road. “It’s a great name,” said Poole, who paid an undisclosed amount for the the bus, brand, email lists and social media accounts.
Though Poole has experienced steady growth, business picks up significantly after Memorial Day. Running a tourism-based operation year-round in Maine is not for the timid. “If only there were more Saturdays in the week,” said Poole. “The window is small because of the season, in winter we cut back a lot on tours.”
Still, “it’s an exciting time and we hope to see the continued growth we’ve had in the last four years,” said Poole.