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This designated driver takes you to the beer

Lena Price March 1, 2013 9

The company's 14-passenger minibus. (Photos courtesy of Richmond Brewery Tours)

The company’s 14-passenger minibus. (Photos courtesy of Richmond Brewery Tours)

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.”

Tommy Miller

Tommy Miller sports his VCU gold.

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

Editor's Picks


  1. Phil Licking March 1, 2013 at 9:54 am - Reply

    Great idea, great timing, and a great guy running it.

    Good luck Tommy, and “hop on board”, RVA!

  2. Brian March 1, 2013 at 10:30 am - Reply

    Good Luck Tom!!

  3. Brett March 1, 2013 at 10:37 am - Reply

    I took this tour with some friends recently. We had a blast! I can’t wait for some more breweries to come online to add to the tour.

  4. ScottB March 1, 2013 at 11:39 am - Reply

    Is the $40 ticket price just to ride in the bus, or does it include beer?

  5. Andrew March 1, 2013 at 2:21 pm - Reply

    I took this tour recently , as well, and it was a lot of fun. Great breweries, great beer, great tour!

  6. Tucker Grigg March 2, 2013 at 8:15 am - Reply


    Great idea brought into fruition. It make a lot of sense.

    Please contact me if you want to explore single source private financing.


  7. Dana March 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Can’t wait to do the brewery tour. Sounds like a lot of fun. Would love to see winery tours added to the schedule.

  8. Eric March 4, 2013 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    I took a similar brewery tour on the Bottom & Back Bus about 5 or 6 months ago so I wouldn’t necessarily call this the “first” brewery tour on the scene. Best of luck to Tommy though.

  9. Amanda Marable March 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    There is also the Local Suds Brewery Tours that started in November! 🙂 Local Suds also has an app that you can download!!

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