GRAND RAPIDS – Grand Rapids Beer Tours is once again offering outings combining beer and art for the city’s ArtPrize event.

Since beginning operations in June 2014, they’ve been giving locals and visitors a way to experience Beer City’s lively craft beverage scene with a personal aspect.

Brian Haik, Owner and Tour Guide, is a born and raised Grand Rapidian. He attended Grand Valley State University with the intention of becoming a history teacher, but decided that teaching people about the history of beer was a more desirable ambition.

Danielle Haik, Brian’s wife, helps run the walking tours. They have three additional tour guides and drivers to handle the burgeoning business.

This is the second year they’re scheduling ArtPrize tours. They begin with a walking tour taking place on the first day of the competition, Wednesday, September 23rd, from 3pm to 6pm.

“The walking tour has you going to four venues this year—Founders, HopCat, Grand Rapids Brewing Company, and BOB’s Brewery,” said Brian Haik.

“The driving tour goes to Founders, Mitten Brewing Company off of Leonard and then Grand Rapids brewing Company,” he added.

If you’re contemplating joining them on one of their popular tours, you’ll need to make your reservation soon. Spaces are limited and many tour sessions are already booked solid.

“There are a lot of extra people in town who want to drink beer and who want to do ArtPrize,” said Haik.

Grand Rapids Beer Tours specializes in providing an intimate experience.

“It’s not like a giant party bus,— we’re not like some companies where their specialty is just transportation. Our specialty is taking people to places and experiencing the breweries. We prefer to keep it smaller, that’s why we have a fifteen-passenger van.”

People appreciate having a responsible driver for a day of drinking with friends.

“On a four hour driving tour, for example, samples equal about a pitcher of beer per person. That’s a good amount, and they don’t have to worry about driving at all!” he said.

“What separates us is we educate people on the tours. It’s not going to be a booze cruise,” said Haik. “You’re going to be learning about the breweries you go to, learning about the beers, and you’ll get a behind-the-scenes brewery tour at one of the stops.”

“I’m passionate about what I do. I have love for the culture and Grand Rapids, it’s my home,” he added.

Future plans include tours to areas of the lakeshore from Saugatuck to Traverse City. They’re entertaining the idea of doing a cider tour, and possibly a gluten-free tour that includes mead if there’s enough interest to support it.

Private tours are available in addition to public tours shown online.

“Sixty to seventy percent of our tours are private tours. Bachelor parties, bachelorette parties, birthday parties, business groups,” said Haik. “We’ve had people from pretty much every continent already. From China, Guatemala, Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, all over the whole world really.”

They’re capable of filling a gap in public transportation, sometimes driving from the city to the lake shore to pick up a tour group for a day of brewery-hopping. They can also offer hotel pickup and drop off in many places, ask for availability when you book your tour.