"Beer Tourism" is a Thing Now
These trips were long before the term "craft beer tourism" came into vogue. All-encompassing beer tourism economic stats are a little hard to come by, but hints of the economic impact that craft beer has had can be found in many places. For example, a 2015 report released by the Vermont Brewers Association estimated that craft beer contributed over $50 million dollars to the total tourism take for the state in 2014.
Even closer to home, a study released by Experience Grand Rapids in Michigan estimated an over $12 million dollar impact from 42,000 beer tourists. Most recently, the travel booking site Travelocity, in partnership with the Brewers Association, released a Beer Tourism Index, which not only uncovered some impressive statistics related to craft beer in the United States, but also revealed their poll results on the Top 6 Large and Small Metro Areas for craft beer in the country.
One tool that cities and regions have used to promote their areas has been the ale trail or beer trail concept, where incentives are offered to folks who visit a certain number of breweries. When individuals involved with the Columbus beer scene adapted the concept in 2015 to promote the area's booming industry, they expected a fairly modest response from the public.
We Need More Passports
|Two original Columbus Ale Trail Passports, released initially in 2015|
Ellison, co-organizer of the Columbus Ale Trail and co-owner of local craft-brewery tour company Columbus Brew Adventures, updated me on the results from that very first successful year. Over 1,200 people visited enough breweries (four was the minimum) to earn pint glasses, while over 600 passports, with stamps from all 20 participating breweries, were redeemed for that top level t-shirt prize.
|The homepage of the Columbus Ale Trail|
It was almost a given that the Trail would have a second run and, indeed, it came back bigger and better, with 28 participating breweries and an initial printing of 35,000 passports. Released again with the launch of the now second annual Columbus Craft Beer Week, this version of the Columbus Ale Trail featured a fairly snazzy incentive for completing the entire circuit - a special card deck emblazoned with the logos of participating breweries and ale trail sponsors.
|Incentives for the 2016 Ale Trail: the pint glass and a pretty snazzy card deck|
Ellison finished up with good news for Ale Trail fans (we definitely fall into that category: my spouse and I are eagerly finishing out passports for that card deck), noting that a new edition of the passport is in the works. Final details are still being worked out, but Ellison said one can look forward to roughly 35 participating breweries and a release again coordinated with the start of the Third Annual Columbus Craft Beer Week, currently slated for May 12 - May 20, 2017.
Our experience with the Columbus Ale Trail Passport, added with what I believe to be a fairly unique completion incentive, got me personally to wondering: what do other areas of the country offer with their version of the concept? My next post will take a little dive into what might be out there.
Featured Blogpost Links
Columbus Ale Trail
Instagram Twitter Website
Columbus Craft Beer Week
Facebook Instagram Twitter Website