If Dauphin County had been a metropolis, it might be within the prime 30, nationwide, for breweries per capita.
Based mostly on inhabitants, and with extra breweries set to open, it might take the following spherical of nationwide beer statistics by storm. Close by, Lancaster is already within the prime 25.
Jason Meckes did his homework when he helped design Go to Hershey & Harrisburg’s (VHH) new Brew Barons Beer Path, which launched in mid-July.
“Beer tourism is a proven model, so we took the logical first step,” mentioned Meckes, whose title is “experience development director.” “Some beer trails are part of a marketing department’s afterthought, but this wasn’t without research and development.”
Meckes was employed final September particularly to create marketable Dauphin County experiences designed to draw residents and guests alike.
Homework is one thing he’s used to—he’s a former instructor. And he most just lately served as government director of the Harrisburg Space Riverboat Society, the place he paired riverboat cruises with native craft breweries for “brews cruises.”
The Brew Barons Beer Path hyperlinks about 20 craft breweries all through Dauphin County by way of a cutting-edge cellular app, “Brew Barons.” Associate breweries are all listed, with their hours and places, and trail-hoppers “check in” utilizing the app’s GPS capabilities to earn three tiers of prizes, together with a chrome steel growler with the Beer Barons emblem.
One of many largest advantages of basing the path on an app is the real-time knowledge it captures. And Meckes considers the path’s first month of figures “a pretty remarkable success.”
Within the first 4 weeks, the app registered 1,100 downloads, 1,092 brewery check-ins, a median of three.6 check-ins per person and 18 resort reservations for beer path packages. Almost 30% of customers are from exterior the realm.
In accordance with Meckes’ analysis, the common native person spends $35.17, whereas the common customer from exterior the realm spends $252.38.
“The Brew Barons Beer Trail added an estimated $29,588.55 to local businesses in four weeks’ time,” mentioned Meckes. “Helping businesses stay afloat during what’s probably the most challenging time they’ve ever faced—I’m quite proud that we’ve been able to make an impact, and this is just the beginning.”
The path, initially deliberate for a spring launch, was delayed because of the pandemic. As soon as the state went inexperienced and breweries began re-opening, the guests bureau went full steam forward on the path’s launch.
And so they solely see extra inexperienced lights forward. 4 extra breweries are set to affix the path via the rest of 2020.
“Beer tourism is not only a thing—it’s growing,” Meckes mentioned. “One of the biggest questions is whether we are in a bubble. We’ve seen similar things in other industries, with other trends. But it takes two years for a brewery to apply for a permit and then start brewing. And based on the number of permits being issued—it’s like seeing two years into the future—craft beer is still growing.”
Meckes defines “beer tourism” as “when you’re specifically traveling to breweries for what are called ‘beer assets.’”
And Dauphin County has loads of these belongings.
“Nationally, we have the recognized beers of Tröegs, but we also have smaller breweries with a local feel and flavor like Mellow Mink focused on sours and aged beers,” Meckes mentioned. “Others, like Zeroday, they really shine when it comes to off-the-wall names and flavors, and Appalachian Brewing has a huge reputation for everything in between. And we have our eye on new breweries like Harris Family and others getting ready to do exciting things.”
Shopping via breweries’ path knowledge from the primary month, check-ins present visits to all kinds of breweries, together with loads of smaller gamers.
“One of the most incredible things I’ve seen—one of the newest area breweries is Liquid Noise, and they’re in the top 10 for check-ins on our app,” Meckes mentioned.
Chris Trogner, co-owner of Tröegs Unbiased Brewing in Hershey, was struck by VHH’s “enthusiasm” for the path’s growth.
“We know that, with their energy and support, the app will absolutely be a success,” Trogner mentioned. “It was easy for us to say yes to their request since they’ve made sure the user experience is their main focus, while making the process very easy for breweries, as well.”
Whereas Tröegs represents the most important brewery on the path, Kristin Messner-Baker represents the smallest. She’s the co-owner of Harrisburg’s The Vegetable Hunter, which features a boutique brewery.
“We were first and foremost a vegan restaurant, but adding the brewery complemented everything,” she mentioned. “We’re probably one of the only vegan restaurants with a brewery in the nation.”
Brews at The Vegetable Hunter, made in contemporary, small batches, vary extensively from a peach IPA to a strawberry double IPA to a blueberry bitter.
Messner-Baker mentioned that the path’s launch got here on the good time “to help people enjoy great beer and get some sort of normalcy back.”
“This is a way people can do social distancing, but grab a beer and have fun, too,” she mentioned. “Right now, in this world, we need fun things that give us something to look forward to.”
For extra data, see brewbarons.com, and seek for the app “Brew Barons.”