July 29, 2014 – In an updated version of the Magical Mystery Tour, a Santa Cruz woman has rebuilt a 1989 Thomas International school bus to take craft beer lovers on a three-hour tour of the local beer scene. Annie Pautsch says she got the idea for Brew Cruz while doing a tipsy pub crawl by bike with friends. “It’s really fun,” she says. “We visit three breweries and I get nerdy about beer, telling little stories so people have some background and know what to taste at each stop.”
The tour runs daily from 3-6pm and begins at Day’s Market, near Seabright Brewery. Stops include Discretion Brewing, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing and Santa Cruz Ale Works. A pint at each stop is included in the cost of the tour and Pautsch says they often pick up some unusual canned brews to go, which are sampled while traveling between destinations. Music, trivia contests and cameraderie ensue. The Brew Cruz costs $69 per person and can accommodate up to 15 people at a time.
Pautsch purchased the bus last November, gutted it and spent seven months refurbishing it with the help of friends and local artisans. It features cushy sofas, a hardwood floor and lots of cup holders. She named it Betty Jane in honor of her grandmother—a longtime Santa Cruz resident. And she hopes that over time it will become a beloved part of the community. In addition to daily brew tours, the bus is available for private parties and events, as long as they don’t involve driving over Highway 17. “Old Betty Jane,” says Pautsch, “tops out at about 50.”