Urban Oyster tour guide Laura Lee became interested in craft beer when she was living in LA. She came across a story in the newspaper about the Beer Chicks, Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune, who wrote “The Naked Pint.” The story went on to describe a local women’s homebrewing club, and Lee decided to attend. “I thought I was going to walk into this room and there would be 25 women. There were like 3.” They brewed a batch of beer at that meeting, and Lee became interested in brewing on her own.
“I’ve always liked trying new and different beers… it was probably when I was living in LA that I got most interested in craft beer and more adventurous. I started brewing too. The more you get into it the more interesting and exciting it can be.”
Lee moved to New York City in 2011 (the first beer she had here was a Guinness) and got a job working as a tour guide at the Tenement Museum in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A coworker of hers worked for Urban Oyster at the time and suggested sending founder David Naczycz an email. She started as a guide for the Brewed in Brooklyn tour in June of 2011.
“I was drawn to the opportunity to learn more about beer and be around it more,” Lee says. “I don’t really know how I got into beer. People ask me that question all the time on tours. It’s hard to say when, but when it came to adult beverages beer was always the drink I had. I was never never into light lagers.”
Along with the Brewed in Brooklyn Tour, Lee also runs the Craft Beer Crawl.
“People who come on Brewed in Brooklyn, a lot of them are really interested in the history. It’s kind of like the perfect combination for them…. on the crawl I see a lot of people who aren’t really into beer,” she explains, saying that sometimes significant others or friends accompany beer lovers. And if she gets someone who doesn’t like craft beer, by the end of the tour they will like at least one.
Running the beer tours has been a great learning experience, says Lee. “I didn’t realize how many breweries there used to be in this country pre-prohibition and in the late 1870s,” she noted. “I don’t think most people do know that there used to be so many small, local breweries and how they’ve disappeared over time.”
People come from all over the world to take these Urban Oyster tours. Once Lee had a brewer from Israel take her tour, another she met a hop farmer from New Zealand. “What I probably enjoy most about being a tour guide is getting to meet people and getting to know them.”
Over the summer Lee noticed some familiar faces on her craft beer crawl. This particular family had gone on her tour for three years in a row. “This is what they do every summer, they get together in New York and this is one of their favorite activities,” she said. “The tour itself is still the same, and they still enjoy going on it… It’s nice to know that this experience is so fun for this group of people, they still want to keep coming back.”
This post is sponsored by Urban Oyster.