Brewmaster Jamie Bishop talks about two beers, Cucumber Blessings and Citra Bridges that won awards at New York’s best beer contest at Mill House Brewing Company in Poughkeepsie Aug. 7, 2017.
Carucha L. Meuse /The Poughkeepsie Journal
The tour starts in Mill House Brewing Company’s production facility.
The Poughkeepsie brewery’s operations are explained in thorough detail. The stainless steel brewing tanks gleam. Amid the equipment and cans, you might catch someone lifting kegs like weights or skateboarding with Hops, the brewery cat.
The tour then moves from the North Hamilton Street location to the brewpub on Mill Street, to see the brick walls and wooden rafters of the bustling restaurant.
Of course, if tour goers want to try the beer, they’ll first need to remove the virtual reality headset.
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Mill House Brewing Company is one of three craft breweries participating in Brew Reps’ Virtual Beerality Tour. Brew Reps will offer virtual reality tours of Mill House, Adirondack Pub & Brewery and Chatham Brewing at bars and craft beer events in New York and Boston through April.
“With these tours, you’re able to spin around and see anywhere in the brewery,” said brewmaster Jamie Bishop. “It really shows the beauty of the pub for those who haven’t had a chance to see it themselves, and maybe it convinces them to come by or at least buy Mill House when they see it on the shelves.”
Jay Wulff, founder of craft beer marketing company Brew Reps, said the virtual reality exhibits at New York Comic Con inspired him to explore how the technology could be used for a brewery.
“The show floor had all this VR-based stuff,” he said. “People have been saying VR will be the next big thing for 20 years, and now it’s here. (Sony) Playstation has got it’s own VR headset, and there’s the Oculus Rift. ‘Ready Player One,’ (Steven) Spielberg’s new movie, is all about VR.”
Wulff spent a year researching, purchasing and learning the technology. He recorded tours of each brewery using a 360-degree camera, and people can look around the room using a headset.
Wulff had worked with all three breweries previously, making them the perfect choice to test out the technology.
These virtual tours specifically target craft beer fans willing to travel for their hobby. A convincing virtual tour coupled with a tap takeover — an event in which a bar will highlight several beers from a single brewery — featuring Mill House might convince someone to make the trip, Wulff said.
“You have some people in New York traveling to Massachusetts and Vermont to pick up beer,” Wulff said. “Fans are willing to take the day off or spend the weekend going out to get a limited release beer.”
More than just a standard tour, these videos feature a few easter eggs and visual gags for eagle-eyed viewers.
“You might even spot me in the background in a Batman mask drinking beer,” Wulff said.
The tour is still in the early stages, but it has been popular so far, Wulff said. About 24 people tried the experience at the first stop at Hoptron Brewtique in Patchogue. Upcoming tour stops include Juan Murphy’s in Poughkeepsie, Grand Cru in RHinebeck and other local spots.
“We were only there for two hours, but it was non-stop,” Wulff said. “The videoes are about five minutes, and we were busy the entire time.”
Geoffrey Wilson: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4882, Twitter: Geoff_LW
- Feb. 8: Juan Murphy’s, Poughkeepsie
- Feb. 15: Copperfield’s, Montgomery
- Feb. 16: Craft Beer Cellar, Warwick
- Feb. 22: Grand Cru, Rhinebeck
- Feb. 23: Half Time, Poughkeepsie
- March 2: Pennings, Warwick
- March 3: Beer Fest, Westchester County Center, White Plains
- March 8: The Oath Craft Beer Sanctuary, Tarrytown
- March 9: Decicco & Sons, Brewster
- March 22: Rock Da Casbah, Saugerties
- April 5: The Golden Rail, Newburgh
- April 28-29: TAP NY Festival, Hunter
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