By day, Chrystal Yarnell is an elementary teacher. By weekend, she’s a tour guide, business owner and craft beer enthusiast.
Yarnell's passion for beer spurred her to found 417 Brewery Bus Tours, which offers organized tours to local breweries. The business opened to the public on Nov. 5, although she started offering private tours in May. “We were licensed as a limo, but when we wanted to sell individual tickets, the city didn’t know what to do with us,” she says.
Once the licensing kinks were worked out, Yarnell was in business. “I was so nervous because there is so much to do in this town in November and December, but nothing in January and February, but it’s been great,” she says.
Tours last 3.5 hours and cost $35 per person. Each tour stops at three breweries and at least one brewery will offer a guided tour so that guests can learn more about the actual brewing process. Attendees also receive half-off pints at each stop.
“It’s been so much fun,” Yarnell says. “The vibe is so great. People enjoy getting to hang out, not driving, and being together.”
Yarnell says she began to appreciate beer and the community aspect of breweries during her travels to Colorado and Portland. When 4 By 4 Brewing Co. opened in Springfield in late 2017, she loved the atmosphere. Then, Great Escape Beer Works opened in late 2018, offering a similar gathering place vibe. Yarnell soon decided that guided tours would offer a new way for Springfield residents to explore these breweries and the stories behind them.
“I wanted to know more about the beer, the history, how they got their name. I wanted to learn more; I guess that’s the teacher in me,” she says.
Breweries on the tour rotate and are posted on Facebook. 417 Brewery Bus Tours currently offers two tours a month, though Yarnell plans to add a Sunday tour after football season.
Private tours are available for a minimum of 12 people ($35 per person). Yarnell also works with Missouri Spirits and local wineries, so if people prefer cocktails or wine, she can make it work.
“We can customize it for what they want to do,” she says. “This is a fun thing to do in Springfield.”
417 Brewery Bus Tours, Springfield, Missouri, facebook.com/417BreweryBus