BY SAM WHEELER
Indigo Creek Outfitters can take you on more than a wild river raft ride Last year, the Ashland-based adventure vacation company expanded its traditional
whitewater tour platform into the world of fine tasting Rogue Valley craft beer.
Owner Will Volpert toyed with the idea of offering winery tours, but there was existing competition and – above all – the idea of chauffeuring high-class wine tasters around the valley didn’t suit his fancy.
“There are a lot of reasons people wouldn’t go on a wine tour with us. One, we’re using 15-passenger vans. We don’t have luxury vehicles. We’re using the same vans that we us on the rafting tours,” he said. “We really wanted something that was complementary to our rafting trips. We’re the kind of people who are going to have a pint of beer to finish the day rather than a glass of wine.”
Indigo Creek offers the about five hour-long brewery tours once a day, Thursday through Sunday, and gives customers the opportunity to taste about 20 beers from four breweries between Ashland and Medford. It adds up to a pint’s worth of brew per stop and includes a snack to soak up some slosh.
The cost is $70 per person.
Volpert got the idea for the tour while swilling a pint from Medford-based nano-brewery Opposition Brewing Company with its founder, owner and lead brewer Nick Ellis – who also happens to be a longtime friend.
“I remember chatting with him about the idea of a brewery tour before he started up, but he is the guy who came up with the idea,” Ellis said. “In our initial conversation, I thought it was a fantastic idea and encouraged him to pursue it.... It’s really helping to lay the foundation for the Rogue Valley’s brewery scene.”
Ellis’ enthusiasm toward the idea helped keep Volpert’s light bulb burning, Volpert said.
“I had never really put together any tour that wasn’t rafting-related, so we went into it with the thought that we would probably need to change the itinerary after doing a few of them, but we pretty much hit it right on the head the first time. We haven’t really had to change anything,” Volpert said. “The first thing that we hear from people who are really knowledgeable about beer is that we have good beer here. People are impressed with the product.”
The tour rotates between five breweries: Bricktowne Brewing Co., in downtown Medford, Swing Tree Brewing Co., in Ashland, Opposition Brewing Co., located in a warehouse in industrial northwest Medford, Walkabout Brewing Co., located next to a gargantuan Budweiser distribution center in north Medford, and Southern Oregon Brewing Co., also in north Medford.
Although both also make top-notch craft beer, there is a reason popular Caldera Brewing Co, and Standing Stone Brewing Co., both in Ashland, are not on the tour itinerary, Volpert said.
“The reason we don’t really go to those guys on our brewery tour is because you’re going to find them on your own. Our goal with the tour is to take you places that you might not find,” Volpert said.
For more information, visit www.indigocreekoutfitters.com or call 541-282-4535.
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.