Brian Hoffman has been a tour guide for Urban Oyster since 2009. “I was interested in becoming a tour guide because I’m an actor, which means I’d been waiting tables for the last 10 years in New York. A friend of mine was a tour guide and it sounded like something I’d want to do,” he recalls. While he was in the process of getting his tour guide license, Hoffman went to a screening of a beer web series, and just happened to sit next to Cindy VandenBosch, who had just founded neighborhood tour company Urban Oyster with David Naczycz. Having been with the company since almost the beginning, Hoffman now conducts the Brewed in Brooklyn tour, and a couple of food tours. During warm weather he does the Craft Beer Sail.
“I was never a beer drinker in college,” Hoffman says. “I was the guy who, if there wasn’t hard liquor at the party, I was ok not drinking…When I moved to New York, ordering a scotch on the rocks was just not in my budget anymore. I wanted to be social, and I discovered new beers that I had never seen before. I discovered that the beer they were serving in college is not what beer could be.” Now in addition to running beer tours, Hoffman also embarked on a search for the best beer in New York, through his blog Eat This NY.
Even with several years conducting beer tours under his belt, Hoffman still gets surprised. “I think everyone drinks craft beer all the time,” he laughs. “Sometimes it does surprise me when people come on the tour without knowing what an IPA is or that beer could be so diverse.”
He also does get people on the tour who aren’t craft beer fans, who are accompanying their friend or spouse. “Through talking with them, we can usually find something that they like from the brewery or from the bar at the end, so that’s always exciting.”
And he’s learned a lot from conducting these tours too. “I never would have guessed that American beer history began in New York and Brooklyn,” he says. “We get a lot of people who live or have lived in Bushwick and walked by a brewery a million times and have no idea. We forget to look up sometimes.”
The Brewed in Brooklyn tour he conducts starts with eight samples of beer at Brooklyn Brewery. Some people finish the samples and some don’t, Hoffman notes. He collects the remaining liquid in an empty pitcher. “On every single tour the joke comes up that who’s going to drink the whole pitcher. On one tour someone poured himself a cup of everybody’s mixed beer. It started the tour off on a pretty funny note.”
This post is sponsored by Urban Oyster
Photo courtesy of Brian Hoffman