There are two prerequisites to being a destination on the Beer Hop Craft Beer Trolley Tour – one, be located in Huntsville city limits and two, have a taproom.
Of course, this automatically excludes Madison breweries like Rocket Republic and Blue Pants Brewery. So for Beer Hop’s first 2015 installment, set for April 30, creator Ashley Ryals decided to include soon-to-open downtown retailer Old Town Beer Exchange as one of the event’s three stops. “We are hoping they will be an outlet for the breweries that are either not in the city limits or don’t have a taproom. An opportunity for their beers to be showcased.”
A presentation of Ryals’ event planning venture Homegrown Huntsville, Beer Hop debuted June 2014 as Brew Hop, with about 630 beer fans sharing the ride over the course of five events. Beer Hop works like this: Three different groups of 32 start at three different breweries at slightly staggered times, 5:30 p.m. Salty Nut Brewery (4411 Evangel Circle Northwest, Ste. A), 5:40 p.m. Brew Stooges (109 Maple Ave.) and 5:50 p.m. Old Town Beer Exchange (301 Holmes Ave.).
A trolley bus picks up the first Salty Nut Brewery group about 30 or 40 minutes after they’ve been there and takes them to Brew Stooges. And then takes that first Brew Stooges group to Old Town Beer Exchange. And so forth.
Beer Hop attendees should arrive at least 10 minutes before start time to sign in. There are no tickets as your name will simply be on a list – but you will need to bring valid ID. “A trolley host that is very educated in the brewery community will lead each group,” Ryals says, adding that Straight to Ale marketer Leslie Bruton is scheduled to be among those hosts.
Reservations are $25, available at homegrownhuntsville.com/beerhop and also include a flight of beers – which varies per brewery, but usually three or four sample-sized pours – at each stop. Salty Nut beers include HopNaughty IPA, Hawt Blonde and Imperial Moustache Red Ale. Brew Stooges fashions brews such as Knucklehead Porter, Wise Guy Imperial India Pale Ale and Dizzy Dame Raspberry Blond Ale.
Additional Beer Hops fall are scheduled for the last Thursday of the month through October, with the exception of September for which there is not a Beer Hop currently listed on Homegrown’s website. The May 28 installment hits Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer Brewing and Brew Stooges; June 25 Yellowhammer, Brew Stooges and Old Town Beer Exchange; July 30 Salty Nut, Yellowhammer and Brew Stooges; August 27 Straight to Ale, Old Town Beer Exchange and Salty Nut; and October 29 Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer and Salty Nut.
“I’m very proud of our local breweries and excited to showcase them,” Ryals, a fan of wheat-style beers, says. “That’s what Homegrown is all about, doing events in our community that highlight local businesses.”