Mo' Momos? Who wouldn't go? (Momo Ghar Ohio)

With the recent influx of immigrants from Himalayan countries such as Nepal and Bhutan into the Central Ohio area, it's probably not too surprising that restaurants specializing in the cuisine are coming into the fore.

Perhaps the most signature of these items is the momo, which essentially is a Chinese-style dumpling with various fillings. Momo Ghar Ohio, located in a cozy little kitchen space inside Saraga International Market (perhaps the most diverse of its kind within the Columbus metro, has gained acclaim as one of the best purveyors in the area of these bite-sized treats.

Columbus Coffee Chronicles: Armando Reconsidered

The exterior of Crimson Cup's Uppter Arlington location, one of
two active company-owned coffee shops in the area
When I started my coffee explorations of the Columbus area, I had one "obstacle" when it came to one of the local purveyors in Crimson Cup: my spouse didn't care for them too much.

Mainly, this was due to her particular circumstances: working at Ohio State University, her coffee choices were pretty much limited to the company's Armando's Blend (named for Armando Escobar, who helped with the founding of the company; he has since moved onto North Carolina's Synchronicity Coffee), a fairly middle-of-the-road blend of various Central American, African and Indonesian coffee beans that just simply wasn't her favorite. It happens, right?

Admittedly, for a bit, her lack of enthusiasm for that blend kept me away from this company's wares as well. Soon enough, however, one particular punch-you-in-the-mouth concoction put them in our regular rotation along with the other excellent local roasters and coffee shops here in the metro.

(Ale) Trailblazing Across The Country: Part 4 - Along The Two-Eight-Seven

Previous Ale Trail Blogposts
Part 1 - Beer Tourism and The Ale Trail (with a focus on the Columbus Ale Trail)
Part 2 - Brewery/Ale Trail Comparisons with similarly-sized metro areas to Columbus
Part 3 - A Compendium of the Nation's Ale Trails

From a United States craft beer perspective, there are a select few cities that make the craft beer seeker's palate water just from the mere mention...Portland, Oregon...San Diego, California...Asheville, North Carolina...and so forth. For these cities, extra ancillary promotions like an ale trail concept are pretty much not needed; for all intents and purposes, the attraction and strength of these craft beer scenes speak for themselves.

For this post, I had originally considered taking a brief look at how all these cities promote their craft breweries and how it fits in the overall picture.  Upon closer inspection, it turned out one of these meccas, recently named as one of the top craft beer destinations in the country by a prominent online travel site, provided a contrasting approach to the ale trail equation: one part of the named metro has an ale trail, while the other part does not.

(Ale) Trailblazing Across The Country: Part 3 - All Ale Trails Great and Small

Previous Ale Trail Blogposts
Part 1 - Beer Tourism and The Ale Trail (with a focus on the Columbus Ale Trail)
Part 2 - Brewery/Ale Trail Comparisons with similarly-sized metro areas to Columbus

Part 3 of this mini-series of blog posts covers the ale trails that I located offering a similar passport/stamp system as the Columbus Ale Trail (detailed in Part 1 of this series, as noted above.)

I will say that while I tried to make this as wide-ranging an incentive-laden ale trail list as possible, this is by no means a comprehensive list. With that said, I would like to hear of others that exist if you got 'em to share. Perhaps with enough feedback, I could be persuaded to do a followup post in the near future.

Also, I found that the Columbus Ale Trail card deck for this year's edition of their trail is pretty unique in terms of ale trail giveaways. The closest most unusual swag that I could find on other ale trail concepts was sunglasses on the Kalamazoo Ale Trail as well as a discounted homebrewing kit for the Santa Cruz Beer Trail (more details on both below.)

Boatyard Brewing, a member of the Kalamazoo "Give a Craft" Beer Trail
(Photo courtesy of

(Ale) Trailblazing Across The Country: Part 2 - Six Above, Five Below

Track 7 Brewing from Sacramento, California, which is about to embark
on their own version of the ale trail concept
Research Parameters, Such As They Are
I posed the question on my last blog post, which touched on the concept of the ale trail with a focus on my locally-based Columbus Ale Trail, about what other craft beer ale trail promotions might be found around the country, their structure and their incentives.

Other than actually finding those cities and regions with active ale trails, I figured a meaningful comparison in relation to the Columbus area would be useful. Once I thought about it a little more closely, I figured looking into metro areas with similar populations would be an easy and relevant comparison measure.

So I took a look at where Columbus stood in terms of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) - as of 2015 (Note: Population statistics were taken from Wikipedia's List of Metropolitan Statistical Areas and rounded down or up for simplicity), the Columbus metro area, which here reaches as far as Marion and Zanesville, comes in at just over 2 million with a rounded total of 2,022,000 people.

From here, I decided to take the MSAs both directly above and directly below in terms of population and dive in. Interestingly enough, the next metro area population-wise higher than Columbus that had an active ale trail really isn't all that far away from Ohio's capital city. The remaining metro areas researched included two neighboring Ohio cities, a couple of fellow capital cities, and a journey from coast to coast.

(Ale) Trailblazing Across The Country: Part 1 - A Focus on the Locals

Pretty much since the beginning of our relationship with my spouse, craft beer has been part of our tourism experience. One of our first memorable experiences was a brewery tour of San Francisco's Anchor Brewing, one of the originators of the modern craft beer movement. A subsequent visit into Oregon was equally as memorable as we dropped by Deschutes Brewing in Bend. Not only were we greeted by the smell of freshly harvested hops (courtesy of a day-of-visit shipment), but also had the opportunity to sample the not-released-for-general distribution Black Butte XXII.

"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.