HOPPING ON BOARD
Tour bus promotes state craft beverage industry
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. » Area craft beverage-lovers now have a new way to get around with the opening of new business Spa City Brew Bus.
The Spa City Brew Bus is a veteran owned and operated tour bus promoting New York state’s craft beverage scene.
The 24-passenger vehicle transports tour-goers to and from area breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries, where they enjoy tasting sessions.
In between stops, the bus ride includes entertainment such as games, trivia and karaoke.
“It’s a good time all around,” said founder Mike Hojnicki.
Along with having fun, Hojnicki likes his tour guests to learn a little bit about their beverages, too. “There’s a lot of education going on here,” he said. “I want people to really learn from farm to glass - where this product is coming from.”
Spa City Brew Bus tours are led by a knowledgeable guide as well as a designated bus driver.
Currently, the company offers scheduled ticketed tours and private tours within the Capital District.
Either way, the Spa City Brew Bus is an all inclusive experience. In addition to transportation with convenient pick-up and drop-off locations, the tour includes all tastings at each location and a souvenir tasting glass, as well as snacks and water on the bus. There is also a cooler for beverages bought along the tour.
Private, customized tours can also be booked for parties celebrating birthdays, reunions, bachelor or bachelorette parties and corporate events.
Ballston Spa couple Mike and Heather Hojnicki started the business this summer and began booking tours last month.
During Hojnicki’s career in the United States Air Force, he was part of a mission in Antarctica. On the way there, Hojnicki and his group would stop in New Zealand where they took bus tours through the wine region. “We always had such a good time. We’d get like 20 of us together, we’d rent a bus and we’d just drive around the countryside. And I said ‘One of these days, this is what I’m going to do.’”
Also during his time in the service, Hojnicki drove a shuttle, so he was familiar with being behind the wheel as well.
Upon retiring from the military, started working at a brewery and gaining experience in the craft industry. He’s also pursuing an associate’s degree in craft beer brewing at Schenectady County Community College.
Hojnicki has successfully combined his shuttle-driving experience with his passion for beer in creating the Spa City Brew Bus.
The tours Hojnicki guides today are similar to his fond memories of New Zealand wine country, but better.
The Spa City Brew Bus is meant to be more than just a mode of transportation, but a VIP experience.
“We want to be entertainment. We want people to have as much fun on the bus in between these stops as they do at the stops,” Hojnicki said. “We don’t want to be just transportation. We want to be an overall experience for people. We want people to feel like they’re special.”
In order to get maximum enjoyment out of the 45-minute stops Spa City Brew Bus has a system. Each guest gets a numbered VIP badge, glass and stickers for any purchases, so things can run smoothly. “It’s meant to be really organized to streamline the process to try to give people more time to enjoy where they’re going instead of dealing with the craziness,” Hojnicki said.
Spa City Brew Bus works with around 75 different businesses, ranging from Paradox Brewery in Schroon Lake and Sloop Brewing Co. in Elizaville.
Locally, the bus has partnered with Saratoga Brewing Company, Druthers Brewing Company, R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery and Artisanal Brew Works, among many others. “Everybody I’ve reached out to has been extremely supportive,” Hojnicki said.
In the future, Spa City Brew Bus would like to expand to operate seven days a week, and offer overnight trips to other areas of the state. Hojnicki said he’d also like to branch out into other avenues of transportation.
Upcoming four-stop tours will be scheduled for 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Tickets are $65 per person and can be purchased online.
Mike and Heather Hojnicki welcome guests to “hop on” the Spa City Brew Bus, a tour bus promoting New York State’s craft beverage scene.
The Spa City Brew Bus is a veteran-owned and operated tour bus promoting New York state’s craft beverage scene.
The Spa City Brew Bus can hold up to 24 passengers.
At left, the Spa City Brew Bus has a cooler in the back for passenger purchases collected along the tours. Below, signage welcomes passengers on the Spa City Brew Bus.