Mike Arra and Ruth Berman have created Bon Beer Voyage,
a beer-oriented travel company. Photo by Susan Mann
By Deborah S. Hartz-Seeley
Bon Beer Voyage
A passion for travel and a taste for craft beers have combined to form a second career for Ruth Berman and Mike Arra.
They have created Bon Beer Voyage, a beer-oriented travel company.
“We love what we do,” Berman says. “People get crazy when we take them where the best beers in the world are made. It’s like bringing them to mecca.”
And a visit to their website may give you some Father’s Day ideas for that beer-lover in your life.
The husband and wife team, who are chiropractors in Boynton Beach, met when they were going to school in Atlanta. From there, they moved to Florida where they opened their practice 22 years ago.
Over the years, Berman became so interested in travel that she worked with a travel agency to arrange high-end travel packages and went to school to become a certified tour director, leading groups in Washington, D.C., and Miami.
“We love to travel,” she says with great enthusiasm.
In 2009, the couple were vacationing in the Dordogne region of southwest France before embarking on a bike/barge trip. Seeing an outdoor market in the town where they were staying, Berman decided to explore. Here she found a brewer selling his Cross of the Rat beer.
“It was at 8:30 a.m., and I was drinking beer. I wondered who am I and how did I get here?” she laughs.
She bought four big bottles of different beer styles and packed them on the barge trip.
It turned out it was their tour guide’s first time leading this itinerary, and as they biked through the countryside between barge stops, he kept getting lost.
“He just didn’t have this tour down,” says Berman, who as a professional tour guide knows what it means to prepare for a trip.
But it didn’t matter. They had a good time sharing their beer with fellow travelers and seeing the French countryside. That’s when the couple realized: “We could do this.”
So in 2009, they started organizing their own beer-related tours.
Their next trip, beginning in Amsterdam, is scheduled Oct. 22-29 for a maximum of 24 people. They’ll board the barge Iris for a seven-day cruise to Bruges, Belgium, stopping at 10 breweries along the way. These include La Trappe, the only Trappist brewery in the Netherlands, and Gruut, which is run by a woman who makes a hopless beer following a medieval recipe. They’ll be joined by Jason & Todd Alström, editors of The Beer Advocate magazine and website.
“It’s the beer-geek trip of a lifetime,” Berman says. They are also offering a trip to Ireland (Aug. 21-27). A trip to Italy (Oct. 15-21) sold out, but there’s a waiting list.
Last year, Bill McFee of Boca Raton, who is a radiologist by profession and a beer brewer by passion, went with his wife, Maria, on a Bon Beer Voyage trip to Belgium.
“They made all the arrangements. It was well-coordinated, and they made the travel easy and enjoyable. We also got into breweries we wouldn’t have been able to on our own,” he says.
Bon Beer Voyage also offers weekend Beer Safaris: tasting tours in places such as St. Augustine and Tampa. And it hosts local events where craft beer lovers can taste special brews, make new friends and talk about their first love — beer.
“We’ve gone on private tours by ourselves,” says Maria McFee. “But going with Bon Beer Voyage is like a traveling party. They make it so easy because you don’t have to think. Just