As the craft beer presence in Jacksonville continues to grow, so does local brewery tour company, Jax Brew Bus. The tour operator took its new 30-seat passenger tour bus out for a test ride last night and will put the bus to use tonight (February 17) as it sets out for its inaugural tour of three local breweries.
Co-owners Mike Maulsby, Jason Coats and Wes Cain had been thinking about adding seats to its tours for several months as demand for the brewery tours has steadily increased since the company’s tours began in June 2016. The new bus, formerly an amusement park shuttle bus obtained from an Orlando tour company, made its way to Jacksonville last week. The larger bus complements the company’s 14-seat passenger bus, and tours will now use both buses.
Co-owner Mike Maulsby started up the current Jax Brew Bus with the original 14-seater from a predecessor company (also called Jax Brew Bus) which he formerly co-owned a few years ago and ran until early 2014. Subsequently, a Tampa tour operator began offering tours, but after it exited the Jacksonville market in Spring 2016, Mike brought the original bus out of the garage and onto the local roads again. Says Mike, “every good city needs a good [brewery] tour,” and he’s “passionate about promoting the craft beer culture in Jax.” The Jax Brew Bus educates riders about the Jacksonville breweries and their beers, while offering “personalized service,” said Mike. The addition of the larger bus will enable Jax Brew Bus
to accommodate corporate outings, convention groups and larger private groups, something that wasn’t possible with only the original bus, even though the demand was there. Having two buses in the lineup will also allow for scheduling flexibility, and the possibility of offering staggered start times for public tours on the weekends. The larger bus will also be used when scheduled public tours have bookings over 14 passengers.
The owners are currently exploring ideas for wrapping the bus with Jacksonville and beer-themed artwork.
Each Jax Brew Bus tour includes stops at three local breweries, where tour guides pour 3-5 samples of house beers for riders to experience. Several of the breweries also offer food options, which passengers can purchase separately. The bus provides empty half-gallon growlers, which can be filled by riders separately at the breweries and then enjoyed on the bus in between stops. The Jax Brew Bus encourages riders to drink Jacksonville beer. Recently, Jax Brew Bus added a guided tour of the brewhouse at Engine 15 Brewing Company’s downtown production facility, led by the Jax Brew Bus staff, after a training session with Sean Bielman, co-owner of Engine 15.
For more information about the Jax Brew Bus tours and to reserve a seat, see its website.
Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®
(all photos by Linda Johnson)
Disclosure: Please note that this writer is employed part-time by Jax Brew Bus as a tour guide. This story is intended to be factual, informational and newsworthy in nature.