Cruising the Hoppy Highway
RV Travelers Driven to Craft Beer
When the Boones visited Cocoa Beach Brewing Co. on Florida’s east coast, they discovered a unique tradition.
“Whenever there is a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, patrons leave their beers and they shut down the tasting room,” Gary Boone says. “We all walked across the street to the beach to watch the launch, then returned to our beers.”
Devine recalls an impromptu decision to stop by Ipswich Ale Brewery in Massachusetts, only to find out it didn’t have a tasting room or tour.
“Upon seeing our dejected faces and learning we had traveled from Kansas to get there, one of the brewers decided to show us around anyway,” he says. “We ended up hanging out at the brewery all day with him and his buddies.”
They stayed overnight in that parking lot.
Being able to stay overnight in a brewery parking lot is certainly not guaranteed. Joey Redner, founder and owner of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, FL, says the brewery does not have an “active policy” on overnighters.
“If we can accommodate them, we’ll try,” Redner said. “We have a big-enough parking lot that, unless it’s the weekend, it’s usually not a problem.”
No matter if it’s a road trip for beer or another reason, one does not simply buy a motor home, turn the ignition key and take off. Becoming a full-timer is not a snap decision. Houses must be sold, possessions shed and jobs left or transformed.
“There’s a big factor there to plan accordingly,” says Mark Polk, owner of RV Education 101, a North Carolina-based producer of educational DVDs on RV travel. “Downsizing is the first major step in the process after you do some initial planning.”
Less obvious factors must be considered as well, he says, such as what type of RV to buy, if you don’t already own one; how much insurance you can afford; whether to purchase a maintenance plan; and most importantly, how you’re going to pay for it all.
“If you’re a full-time RVer, everything is hinged on your budget,” Polk says. “You’ve got to factor in how much it’s going to cost for fuel, how much it’s going to cost for maintenance, how much it’s going to cost for the campsites and of course, just regular living expenses. You [might] want to buy a new pair of shoes or have the money to go out for dinner or a night on the town.”
For the craft-brew-loving full-timers, add on the price of pints, bottles and growlers, and room to store any for later.
Even so, the expense of full-time RVing can be much less than people might expect.
“Most people think you must be independently wealthy to do what we do,” Scarpello says. “On the contrary, we live quite cheaply. Traveling full-time with our lifestyle is actually cheaper than when we lived in a sticks-and-bricks home.”
When the Willmores decided to go full-time, they merely shifted from brick-and-mortar offices to one on wheels. Ben Willmore, 45, had established himself as a Photoshop guru, having taught seminars, written books and created educational material. Karen Willmore, 32, already worked remotely on her full-time graphic designer job. Both are professional photographers.
“As long as we have an Internet connection,” she says, “we can work effectively from anywhere.”
Scarpello and Devine, both 30, worked at a software company in Kansas City, she as a project manager and he as an interaction designer. Currently, he does similar works as a freelancer, while she recently picked up a gig working full-time for a WordPress theme company.
Gary Boone, 61, and Leeanne Boone, 56, get by on their pensions from Ford, and “try to be as thrifty as possible.”
Casting off the shackles of a 9-to-5 job means more flexibility for craft beer explorations, including brewery tours, though the thrill of being guided through rows of shiny stainless steel tanks, barrels and tubs can lose its luster.
“We have been on so many tours that there really isn’t much to learn anymore,” Ben Willmore says. “But at times, you have to take the tour to get to the tasting room.”
Gerard Walen writes about beer travel as editor of the online magazine Road Trips for Beer. He is founder and editor of BeerInFlorida.com, and his beer writings have been published in other online and print media.