Ashley Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell Just As Hoppy, or Ashley Rose–Your Happy and Hoppy Guide to Brewvana

[The last chapter of our “women in beer” week is here, with another guest interviewer–Longtime Laurelwood Brewmaster Chad Kennedy. Chad got to know Ashley Rose of Brewvana Brewery Tours before leaving town to work on Worthy Brewing, his new project in Bend.- Samurai Artist]


By Chad Kennedy


Ashley Rose and I first met while I was a brewer at Laurelwood and she was a server. I was immediately impressed by Ashley’s energy and enthusiasm about craft beer. In early 2011, she started Brewvana–“The Ultimate Beer Tour Experience,” giving craft beer enthusiasts a guided, behind the scenes tour of Portland and, really, Oregon’s beer culture. Ashley and her lovely little bus, Angel, have been a hit with Portlanders and those visiting what she calls The Beer Capital of the World. In addition to running her own business, she is currently gracing Hopworks with her smile and beer knowledge. Ms. Rose has proven to be a great asset to the Oregon beer community and one of its greatest advocates.

You can find Ashley and Angel online at
http://www.experiencebrewvana.com



Chad Kennedy: So Ashley, you and I met at Laurelwood, where you were slinging fine craft beer. I know you’re now at Hopworks, but tell us about how you made the jump into your own beer-based business?

Ashley: I have been serving and drooling over delicious craft beer for over 10 years. Not wanting to go to grad school after getting my degree in Art and Psychology, nor get a “real job”, I decided to move across the country to do the same thing I was doing in NC (slinging fine craft beer) in the beer capital of the world! Every time my friends and family came to visit me in my new home, I played tour guide, showing them around to my favorite places and blowing their minds with the amazingness of the craft beer in this city. I did it for fun! I LOVE showing people around Portland, the city that I love, and introducing them to what we have to offer. After a family vacation to Puerto Rico where I wished I had a tour guide to show me around, I decided that I could be that girl in Portland…. like, for everyone! So I got this great idea to do an all inclusive SUPER fun beer tour in Portland and the rest is history!

CK: The craft beer industry has a reputation of being being open and inclusive. Brewers share brewing techniques and sales ideas and the collaborative beer has become quite the hit. Yet there really are very few women in the industry. Have you found that it was difficult to break into the industry?
A: No, not at all. I think people really like what I’m doing and they are supportive. I kinda snuck into the industry by being a server for so long–waiting on beer lovers, participating in the Brewer’s Games, going to beer festivals, and pouring at events. Since I started Brewvana and have reached out to more and more people in the industry, I’ve realized Beer People are really cool people! In the last year or so, I’ve met so many amazing beer lovers that are open and supportive of me and what I’m doing. I think the cooperation of everyone–TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More)–is one of the reasons why the industry is thriving like it is. Plus, I have a unique niche in the industry–I haven’t yet brewed beer, but I’m sharing what I know about craft beer to the public–in a way that supports and promotes the industry….. so the beer people think that’s pretty cool!

CK: Do you think the craft beer has done a good job in telling its story to women?

A: What do you mean by that? I think women that drink beer are flippin awesome. I don’t think they need an invitation to join the party.
CK: You’ve got such great energy and your Brewvana beer tours seem such a natural fit for your personality. You must love what you do…..
A: Thanks, Chad! Heck yes I do!! It is a perfect job for me! The portion of my job that involves being the tour guide is the MOST fun. I hang out with people and talk about beer. It’s great. People on my tours have an amazing time, and when they’re having fun, so am I. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s really true. I’ve had SO many “Best Tour Ever”s. When I get done dropping off my beer tourists safely at their hotels or homes, I leave with a HUGE smile on my face and think to myself…. “I LOVE my job”. And what makes me even more happy is that I created that job for myself. It’s really cool when you can take something that you love to do, and that you are good at, and turn it into a business!
CK: There have been a few different attempts by folks to do bus-based beer tours in Portland. What makes Brewvana different, and what’s been the biggest challenge about making Brewvana successful?

A: What I didn’t expect was all the work that goes into making the tours possible–the business aspect of the business has been the biggest challenge for me. Knowing where to start with the overwhelming amount of tasks to achieve; what has to be done now, and what can be done later. Getting the word out has been really tough, too. And doing it all by yourself can make someone crazy. I sometimes feel like my eyes have the Brewvana POW in the center of them. I can’t think about anything but Brewvana. My thoughts are constantly bombarded by what I should be doing….. and I definitely break down on a weekly basis. Is that okay to tell people? I feel horrible for my boyfriend sometimes. He has been very understanding, and an amazing support throughout the entire Brewvana process.

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What makes Brewvana different is that while I am doing everything I can to make the people on my tours happy–and to have a great time–I am also working with the breweries to make sure our visits are smooth for them. I am considerate when I visit the facilities by keeping the groups to a maximum of 14 and communicating expectations with them so we are all on the same page. Brewvana works with the breweries to showcase their beer on our tour. The breweries love when Brewvana walks in the door, and they treat our group like royalty! Coming from the service industry, I am very good at going above and beyond to make my people happy. Balancing the wants and needs of the breweries as well as my guests is what I do. It’s a win win! Everyone is happy in the end! The tour has a little bit of everything–it’s fun, educational, informative, social, and a great experience overall.
CK: Have you found that most of your beer tourists are from Portland or out of town?

A: For most part I’d say, the ones that HOP on the bus most frequently are out of town guests. They are looking for a something fun to do, that includes transportation with information about Portland’s thriving beer culture. It’s perfect for them because they don’t know where to go and what to do. With over 40 breweries in Portland, who would even know where to begin?! I make it easy for them because I tell them where we are going, drive them there, and provide the food and beer! The people from Portland that HOP on the bus are celebrating–birthday, bachelor party, anniversary, etc. They book the whole bus for their posse and Build Their Own Tour to accommodate the needs of the group. They tell me where they want to go and I make it easy for them by making the plans and taking care of everything else.

CK: It seems like we’ve got a handful of breweries opening every year. Has this been helpful in giving you someplace new to take people, or do you feel like we’re in danger of hitting saturation in town and making craft breweries passe?
A: Bring them ON!!!!! More BEER, please! The more breweries there are, the more each one must separate itself from the rest by providing something new and unique. I think it’s great. I’m looking forward to see what pops up next, and for the opportunity to bring my tours to some cool new places!



CK: What does the future hold for Brewvana- maybe a Boeing 737 and international tours?

A: GREAT idea Chad!!!!! The possibilities of Brewvana’s future are endless. Earlier this month we ventured out to Hood River for a day trip. September 10th and 11th, we are doing our first ever overnight trip to Bend to hit up some of the breweries out there…..to practice for when Worthy Brewing Co. opens up!!!! Brewvana will be there on opening day with a bus packed full of VIP’s (no OLCC, we mean very important people.) Definitely more overnight trips out to different beer city destinations. Hopefully a bigger bus (24 MAX) is in the near future. And maybe I’d even like to do collaborative tours with other tour companies in other cities–other breweries are doing it, so why not brewery tour companies??? In June when I was suffering from severe allergies and lack of sunshine, I had thoughts of possibly moving back home to NC and starting Brewvana II in Asheville while leaving Brewvana I in the hands of someone amazing here in Portland, and just coming back for the summer. Who knows. I’m open to ideas. What do you think?

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

Discussion

  • Kris
    Kris
    Fri Aug 19, 2011 1:01 PM

    Glad to hear you’re planning to stick around Portland, Ashley! I’ve only been on Angel once, during the Saraveza trips to Vancouver but it was a fun time. I’d recommend, well, have recommended you already, to people looking for a cool way to hit beer spots in Portland. Keep up the good work!

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous
      Fri Aug 19, 2011 2:49 PM

      Asheville might be a good option – part-time!

      • Anonymous
        Anonymous
        Fri Aug 19, 2011 2:51 PM

        Great Interview!
        ‘Be in Portland in 2 weeks & Looking forward to several tours. “Beer On Ashley!”

        • Tigg
          Tigg
          Sat Aug 20, 2011 6:35 AM

          I’ll work for Brewvana Portland!!! 😉