Beer: PA Brew Tours is doing a sleepover

Pennsylvania Brew Tours is making its first overnight trip later this month -- what it's billing as the "North Coast Brew Tour."

Jake Voelker's service, which has been making day trips to breweries in the region since January, will send a bus from Downtown Pittsburgh to Erie on Saturday morning, Aug. 24, and not come back until Sunday.

Tour-goers get lunch on the way there from Carson St. Deli on the South Side, and a room at the Hilton Garden Inn.

While they're in Erie, they'll get guided tours of, and beer samples at, Erie Brewing and Lavery Brewing. That night, they can take shuttles to Presque Isle Downs and Casino.

Sunday morning it's back on the bus, which will stop on the way back in Meadville for a visit to Voodoo Brewery, where there'll be a Sunday brunch of French toast stuffed with ricotta cheese and peanut butter topped with powdered sugar and Pennsylvania maple syrup, biscuits and gravy, "voodized" mimosa, and roasted squash soup with Gran Met served chilled. The bus is to be back in Pittsburgh by about 3:15 p.m.

Cost is $300 per person, or $480 per twosome sharing a room.

"We tried to show as much value as we can," says Mr. Voelker, who talked about doing an overnight trip to Erie, where he's from, since he started the business out of his Aspinwall home.

"I love Erie and I'm proud to bring people there," he says. And he's proud to help market the breweries the tour will hit -- he says they also will tell people about and help them get to the Brewerie brewpub -- while also providing a little shot to Erie's economy.

He's actually going to a wedding there that weekend, but the trip will be guided by his childhood Erie friend and "celebrity tour guide," Adam Paul Causgrove, who's rather obviously affiliated with the newly-moved-to-Pittsburgh American Mustache Institute.

For more, visit

Mr. Voelker has other Erie trips planned, including one Jan. 25 and one July 26 to take in the Beer on the Bay Festival, and he says other overnight trips will be added. "It's kind of the next evolution of our business."

Speaking of which, Pennsylvania Brew Tours also will be providing a limited number of rides to and from the Steel City Big Pour beer, food and art festival on Sept. 7. Both sessions of the fest are sold out -- with about 1,500 attendees at each. But rides are still available.

Roundtrips from three spots -- outside Harris Grill, 5747 Ellsworth Ave., Shadyside; outside Park Brugge, 5801 Bryant St, Highland Park; and at the Forbes and Murray avenues in Squirrel Hill -- are $25.

For the second, evening session, fest ticket holders can buy roundtrips from three restaurants holding Big Pour events: Carson St. Deli and Craft Beer House, South Side; Bocktown Beer and Grill at the Beaver Valley Mall in Center, Beaver County; and House of 1000 Beers in New Kensington. Cost is $40, but you get $15 to spend at the watering hole upon your return.

For more info and tickets, visit

Lovers of India pale ales will descend on Mad Mex Cranberry Saturday, where, from 1 to 4 p.m., they'll hold the IPA Jam. For $30 ($35 at the door), attendees can hang out outside, listen to live music, and sample more than 40 examples of this hoppy style, including some unusual ones and rarities. For the first time they'll have some Bell's The Oracle double IPA. Details and tickets at

Bob Batz Jr.: and 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.


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