The Rise of The Beer Trail

Cities across North America are developing and/or promoting beer trails linking breweries and brewpubs together, with printable maps and lots of related content to drive visitation to local communities and small craft brew businesses.

Denver: The Denver Beer Trail and this PDF map feature 20 local establishments to explore the city’s extensive craft beer lifestyle. Davis said the Trail doesn’t necessarily include some of the big corporate restaurant chains in Colorado serving up to 100 beers on tap. He explained, “The focus is really on quality over quantity where you can get a true sense of the passion that the brewers put into their craft.” Content about the Trail is supported with the Beer Aficionado’s Guide to Denver, Beers Brewed in Denver, and the Great American Beer Festival.

Tampa Bay: Visit Tampa Bay has a Beer & Microbreweries webpage listing a wide variety of breweries and neighbourhood brewpubs, followed by an extensive list of special events around the year celebrating craft beer. For fans of beer trails, the tourism bureau directs visitors to the popular Tampa Bay Brew Bus. There are multiple itineraries for different types of tasting experiences.

St. Petersburg/Clearwater: Next door to Tampa, the Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater tourism bureau developed an comprehensive Craft Beer Trail and a series of beer-themed videos. Harrison said St. Pete and Tampa are “tied at the hip” when it comes to promoting the destination to international markets and convention planners, with beer experiences becoming a more prolific part of the marketing process.

San Diego: Rather than developing a beer trail itself, San Diego promotes third-party sources, including the San Diego Brewers Guild 2015 Craft Beer Map & Guide and the San Diego Brewery Guide. There’s also a series of blog posts written by local beer experts, such as A Hop Lover’s Downtown Tour.

Jacksonville: Visit Jacksonville is going after the craft beer consumer with its Jax Ale Trail initiative. The website reads: “Four local breweries, Engine 15 Brewing Co., Intuition Ale Works, Aardwolf Brewing Co. and Pinglehead Brewing Com,. all won medals at the Best Florida Beer Championship this past year. In Jacksonville, we are pioneer hipsters . . . minus the Brooklyn attitude.”

Brooklyn: That Brooklyn attitude is on full show at the seven breweries listed on Explore Brooklyn’s downloadable Beer Trail Tasting Tour Map. The popular Brooklyn Brewery in Williamsburg produces a series of beer festivals in the northeast, and it’s open for tours.

Portland: Travel Portland says that it has more breweries than any other place on earth, which isn’t actually accurate, but it does have one of the most varied craft beer webpages among tourism bureaus on earth. For instance, there’s content on “brew ‘n view” movies and “kid-friendly breweries.”

New Mexico: The New Mexico Ale Trail is a statewide initiative with an interactive map. The 38 road stops range from Cazuelas Mexican Grill & Brewery in Rio Ranchos to the husband-and-wife-owned La Cumbre Brewing in Albuquerque, who feel they have the best IPA in the country.

Michigan: A lot of beer experts in Michigan. Experience Grand Rapids promotes a Beer City Ale Trail with a surprising amount of brewery production tours. The tourism bureau also lists a wide range of Beer City Hotel Packages and a Beer City Brewsader Passport that visitors can collect stamps for at each stop.

Philadelphia: The Philadelphia Craft Beer Trail was once “The Cradle of American Libation” and the greatest beer city in the Western Hemisphere during the American Revolution, according to Visit Philly. The website goes into a good bit of detail covering the 53 stops on the Trail.

Asheville: The Asheville Ale Trail is a favourite for people who know these things, based on the amount of times it’s referenced by beer media. There are various self-guided walking and biking itineraries, and a “Brews & News” event blog. Meanwhile, Explore Asheville has a great Beer Scene portal that’s part of its innovative Foodtopia platform, which promotes locals who operate travel companies, versus the companies themselves.

Oklahoma City: Even if tourism bureaus don’t have a lot of craft brewers in their city, like Oklahoma City CVB, they can easily put together a simple Beer Tour page.

Indianapolis: Visit Indy features a crowdsourced Instagram feed focused only on beer.