Ashley Salvitti: Tour Guide

Founder and Tour Guide at Brewvana

Ashley Salvitti had always been a fan of good beer, so when she arrived in Portland from South Carolina, her interest and passion for seeking out the best suds only continued to grow, especially as she became more and more integrated into the Portland beer community. A server at Laurelwood Brewing and then Hopworks, Salvitti had an epiphany following a disastrous family vacation to Puerto Rico. “We fought about everything,” Salvitti says, “where to go, what to do, how to get there. And then the last night we were there, a beer server at a restaurant said ‘I do tours on the side. I could have brought you here and there.’ I thought, how nice is it to have someone who knows the area introduce you to what they have. I remember going in to Hopworks and telling one of my regulars, ‘You know what, I think I want to start a brewery tour business,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘That’s a brilliant idea.’”

That was in 2011. Two years later, Brewvana celebrated its two-year anniversary. The company now boasts two fully stocked tour buses (complete with cup holders, mini fridges and “beeriodic tables”), three tour guides (all former beer servers, just like Salvitti), and the cooperation of Portland’s best loved and most respected breweries.

Brewvana offers four different all-inclusive weekly tours, all of which visit 3-4 breweries per tour. Stops range from big name Portland breweries like Widmer Brothers Brewing and BridgePort Brewing Company, to more micro operations like the  Commons Brewery and Upright Brewing.  For Salvitti, the goal of Brewvana’s tours is to  introduce visitors as well as less-informed locals to Portland’s beer scene in a way that is both educational and accessible. Most tours include meet and greets with the brewers themselves. “The biggest part of what Brewvana does differently than other tour companies is really work with the breweries to showcase what’s unique and special about each brewery, and try represent them in the way that they want to be represented,” Salvitti says. She adds, “All of my tour guides have prior beer serving experience because I want them to be able to talk to people who don’t necessarily know that much about beer, and be able to communicate in a simple way rather than feeling that it’s snobby or over their heads. We’re there bridging the gap between the very basic drinker and the professional brewer.”

In addition to weekly tours, Brewvana also hosts a number of  special  events  including  transportation to and from Blazers and Timbers games and local beer fests. “We try to be involved in as many beer activities and events as possible, because when beer is involved, somebody needs to drive and we want to make sure people are doing it safe,” Salvitti says. Also popular are Brewvana’s monthly “Meet the Brewer” tours,  curated by a local brewer who guides attendees through stops of his choice. While Salvitti admits that Brewvana’s weekly tours are geared more toward tourists, Meet the Brewer tours are a chance for locals to get some up-close-and-personal interaction with their favorite brewers.

Looking forward, Salvitti continues to dream big. “Eventually I’d like to have a space that our tours start from. It would be the  epicenter for information about craft beer in Portland,” Salvitti says. It’s a service that Salvitti knows Portland needs, especially with the continued growth of Portland beer scene. “We have so many breweries in this city right now but we haven’t reached our capacity, which is crazy to me,” Salvitti muses. “We’re so spoiled. And it’s not just about the breweries, but it’s about the support of the community, about the beer bars and bottle shops and restaurants. The community here  supports the beer industry.” And Salvitti is more than happy to lend her support as well.

Brewvana tour tickets are available online at

experiencebrewvana.com

About The Author: Katie Mitchell