Monday, July 01, 2013

New Beer Trail Unites Local Traverse City Breweries

Written by  pauls
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New Beer Trail Unites Local Traverse City Breweries

Traverse City is renowned for its wineries – but has the time come for breweries to share the spotlight?
A number of national media outlets seem to think so: The Travel Channel named Traverse City to its list of 2012 Top Seven Beer Destinations in the country, and Draft Magazine called TC one of three Emerging Beer Towns to visit the same year.

Now, hoping to capitalize on the momentum and create branding for the community as a craft brew destination, Daily Medias owner Troy Daily of Traverse City is launching a program to unite local breweries and drive tourism to their establishments.

Daily bills the Traverse City Ale Trail as a “little passport to the big world of beer in Northern Michigan.” When the program launches the first week of July, visitors (as well as locals) can pick up a free Traverse City Ale Trail passport at any local brewery, as well as the Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Front and Cass Streets tourist kiosk and area hotels.

From there, passport holders are encouraged to earn “stamps” by visiting and purchasing a drink from each of the participating breweries. (There is no time limit in which stamps must be collected, so visits can be spread out over time.) Once a passport has been completely filled out, it can be redeemed at The Filling Station Microbrewery for a special prize.

“It's basically an incentivized program that gives people a map of all the great local breweries we have and encourages them to visit each one,” Daily says.

Getting every brewery to participate in the program was a key component of Daily's plan. “It wouldn't work unless everyone was involved,” he says. “We didn't want any outliers.” Daily was successful in his recruitment efforts: Enlisted participants include North Peak Brewing Company, Brewery Ferment, Right Brain Brewery, Jolly Pumpkin, Mackinac Brewing Company, The Filling Station Microbrewery, and soon-to-be-opened establishments including Brewery Terra Firma, Beggars Brewery, The Workshop Brewing Company, Bravo Zulu Brewing and Rare Bird Brewery and Taproom.

With so many breweries popping up so quickly, Daily recognized that a paper map/guide had the potential to become outdated; hence, the entrepreneur is simultaneously launching a Traverse City Ale Trail smart phone app. The free app, available now at www.231TheGuide.com, allows users to access up-to-date directions to local breweries, check-in on social media, and post about their brewery visits.

“We wanted to make (the program) as interactive and fun as possible,” Daily says, noting that Traverse City Ale Trail merchandise – such as stickers, buttons and T-shirts – may soon be coming down the pipeline. "At the same time, it's trackable for the breweries. They know how many stamps they're giving out, who's checking in at their tasting rooms. It's a great program for everybody."

The Traverse City Ale Trail program will launch at the inaugural Ales by the Rails Summer Music Festival July 5-7 at The Filling Station Microbrewery. The three-day event, co-produced by the Filling Station and Porterhouse Productions, will feature live music and entertainment (including Greg Brown, Seth Bernard & May Erlewine, Luke Winslow-King, Mike Moran, Blake Elliott and a silent disco tent), craft brews, wood-fired pizzas and family-friendly activities. For more information, visit www.tcaletrail.com.