TRAVERSE CITY — Now there’s a good reason to drink more beer.
This justification for the consumption of more stouts, suds, lager and the like is called the Traverse City Ale Trail: a unique business promotion idea for Traverse City breweries formulated by Troy Daily, who hopes to help area businesses capitalize on what many consider a beer boom in Michigan.
The trail calls on beer connoisseurs in the Traverse City area to pick up a beer passport at one of eight participating breweries in Traverse City and visit each of those breweries to buy a beer and collect a stamp. A trail-goer who gets their passport stamped at each of the eight breweries can then return it to the Filling Station Microbrewery in Traverse City and get a free pint glass.
A ninth stamp from the Grand Traverse Distillery earns the passport carrier a bonus prize.
“Really, it’s aimed at bringing all of the breweries together and making them all work together to create Traverse City as a beer destination,” Daily said.
The Ale Trail is the latest feature of a growing movement to make Traverse City a beer hot spot. The area is already known for its wines, golf courses, lakefronts and a nice place to retire, so why not beer?
“The industry is really booming right now and we are glad to be a part of that,” said Jim DeMarsh, assistant general manager of the Jolly Pumpkin brewery, which is participating in the Ale Trail. “It’s bringing a lot of people up from downstate and Ohio.”
Other participating breweries include North Peak, The Workshop, Brewery Ferment, Beggars Brewery, Right Brain, The Filling Station and Mackinaw Brewing Co.
Doug DeYoung, vice president of government relations and business development for the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, said there’s definitely a place for fine beers in the region’s long-term economic development, given the area’s agricultural base.
“It’s happening,” DeYoung said. “Look at how the wine industry grew over the years. We are seeing that followed path for growth in the beer industry and craft beers. We are talking about responsible use of the agribusiness we have in our community. It’s a growing agribusiness.”
Some see Michigan in the midst of a beer boom. One study out of the University of Delaware states Michigan beer distributors have a $2 billion impact on the state economy, which makes sense to Daily.
He sees Traverse City as an important part of the state’s beer scene over the long haul. When asked how long the Ale Trail will last, Daily said “forever.”
“It never ends,” Daily said.