Like many places in the Midwest, the beer roots of Columbus, Ohio, run deep. In the mid-late 1800s, German immigrants created a flourishing riverfront brewery district here, one that eventually languished during the temperance movement and Prohibition.
As in many places, too, the city is undergoing a craft beer renaissance: In the last five years, dozens of breweries have opened in or around Columbus. Experience Columbus and partners are deftly leveraging this revival: This week, they launched a Columbus Ale Trail, backed by the hashtag #CbusAleTrail.
As with many beer trails, participants receive a Brew Book that’s stamped at breweries they visit; accumulating stamps land prizes such as t-shirts and pint glasses. (The launch of the trail coincides with the first-ever Columbus Beer Week, which begins today).
Why is it a smart move? Because beer (as well as wine, cider, and spirits) tourism continues to be an unflagging economic driver, but people usually like to do it in their own time. In Vermont, where I used to live, the state’s self-directed Brew Trail attracts thousands of visitors to this otherwise sleepy state each year. Though stats related specifically to beer tourism are hard to come by, brewing generates impressive economic activity these days: In 2013, $671 million in Georgia, $1.6 billion in Colorado, and $1.2 billion in Ohio, according to the Brewers Association.
Those are effervescent numbers, and their power can be tapped in many ways — via pairing dinners, or tastings, and or trails, all of which can add spice to a meeting’s after-hours scene. So kudos to Columbus — as well as Bellingham, Washington, and Jacksonville, Florida, who have all launched their trails in recent months. Perhaps one day, there will be so many beer trails in the U.S. that they’ll make a continuous line across the country. (A girl can dream). Zum wohl!