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Return to the Trails (Pt. 1): Jumping Onboard the Ale Trail Train

The Summit Brew Path, Ohio's second ale trail promotion behind
the Columbus Ale Trail, has happily exceeded all expectations
In November, I wrote a series of posts sampling some of the ale trails of the country, starting with what has been a very successful such promotion here in the Columbus, Ohio area. I also then compared some of the other similar promotions in relation to metro areas similar to Columbus on a population basis as well as both a general and specific look at some of the other more interesting promotions that I found across the country.

Six months later, I thought it would be fun to update this series with a look at some of the mostly newer promotions that have appeared for craft beer aficionados to tackle, as well as take a look at what awaits those who undertake this year's version of the Columbus Ale Trail as well as the associated Columbus Craft Beer Week.

Informational Promotions

Niagara Ale Trail
Niagara Falls, Canada (13 Breweries)
A region that's much more known for a certain rather well-known natural wonder and its wine country now gets its own version of an ale trail. Interesting destinations among the 13 participants include the Niagara College Teaching Brewery, run by prospective student brewmasters, and Kame & Kettle, which offers a slew of beers, including various Belgian styles a pawpaw beer.

You can now more easily locate the foamy head of a craft beer after viewing
the foamy headwaters of Niagara Falls courtesy of the Niagara Ale Trail
The LoCo Ale Trail
Loudon County, VA
This 21-brewery-strong ale trail, which is broken down into convenient itineraries for the beer seeker, resides in one of the higher income areas of the country (the county has consistently ranked in the top 10 in terms resident median income.)

Jackson County Brewery Trail
Jackson County, NC
Perhaps the polar opposite of Loudon County, this modest county of 40,000 people in the western part of the state is doing its best to draw more adventurous aficionados from well-known craft beer mecca Asheville, located roughly one hour to the county's northeast. In fact, the county seat and home to the breweries on the trail, Sylva, has been deemed a smaller-scale and less-crowded version of its more well-known neighbor in The Washington Post.

I wonder if "The King" himself, Richard Petty, would join me for a
Cigar City Jai Alai IPA at the Daytona Taproom if I asked?
Daytona Beach Ale Trail
Daytona Beach, FL
In an area much more known as a NASCAR and Spring Break mecca, Daytona Beach now has its own craft beer related promotion. Started by the Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau in October 2016, those seeking a little bit more of a refined beer experience now have 17 possible destinations at hand to slake that thirst.

Treasure Coast Wine and Ale Trail
Treasure Coast, FL
Floridians seem to love their beer. In this case, the Treasure Coast, located on the Atlantic Ocean side of the state between the cities of Sebastian and Jupiter (and partial home to Major League Baseball's Spring Training-oriented Grapefruit League) offers up 9 breweries and brewpubs that are open or set to open this year. Launched in March of 2017, this ale trail also offers a winery should your palate need a break from ales and lagers.

A visit to Pismo Brewing, a member of the Central Coast Beer Trail, may be
in order after viewing a gorgeous ocean sunset off Pismo Beach.
Central Coast Beer Trail
Central Coast, CA
37 breweries in Central Ohio is one thing; 37 breweries on the Central Coast Beer Trail, in an area at least half the state of Ohio (depending on how you draw the boundary lines) is something all together different. Anchored by the well-regarded San Luis Obispo-based Firestone Walker (for our recent visit to their Barrelworks facility, please check out this past blog post), finding a great brew or two to accompany your great view or two is now much easier with this promotion, which is back after a one-year hiatus.

The "People Love Beer with their Swag" Promotions

Oakland Ale Trail
Oakland, CA
San Leandro's Drake's Brewing, drawing ever closer to its 30th anniversary, is the most prominent brewery on this newly launched trail. Starting with 9 taprooms and slated for 12 by the ned of the year, finishers of the entire trail can earn themselves an Oakland Ale Trail-branded growler for their efforts.

The "People Love Beer with their Swag" Promotions,,,with a Twist

McCall Ale Trail
McCall, Idaho
McCall, located two hours north of Boise on the shores of Payette Lake, mixes 3 breweries and 22 restaurants together on its promotion. Those who gather 10 stamps on their passports can submit it to the town Chamber of Commerce for an entry in their quarterly drawing to win a paid weekend vacation in this resort town.

Akron's Thirsty Dog Brewing, housed inside the building complex
that was once home to the historic Burkhardt Brewing
The Summit Brew Path
Summit County, Ohio
There is a definite sense of déjà vu shared between organizers of the Ohio's first ale trail promotion (Columbus) and this second one, which is centered on breweries located in a four-county region surrounding the cities of Akron and Canton.  As documented by Akron Beacon-Journal writer Rick Armon in this article, the reception to this promotion, launched February of 2017, exceeded all expectations, with 80% of the available passports gobbled up on the first day and a total of 20,000 (4 times the original print run) now printed.

Those who complete the passport will receive a "I COMPLETED THE SUMMIT BREW PATH" t-shirt as well as an entry into a drawing for a Greater Akron area vacation package.

Cumberland Valley Beer Trail
Cumberland Valley, PA
This April 2017 launched beer trail covers 15 breweries spread out throughout the Cumberland Valley area of Pennsylvania. Each brewery visited earns you a sticker, with every 5 stickers earning you an entry for a monthly gift certificate contest by participating locations with each submitted passport.

Pay-to-Drink (for Swag and Discounts)

CR Ale Trail
Cedar Rapids, IA
Started in November of 2016, this pay-to-play promotion sponsored by Hy-Vee Grocery Stores is fairly similar to the Finger Lakes Beer Trail promotion that this blog looked at in this post. For $30, participants receive a mobile phone passport that gives them over $500 in perks and discounts at more than 25 participating breweries, distilleries and restaurants, as well as at Hy-Vee stores itself.

Next in the series: Beer trail as economic revitalizer - a closer look

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