The release of the Craft Beer Guide by Wonderful West Virginia tells you one thing for certain: Craft beer tourism is becoming a really big deal. Nationally, travel & tourism agencies, convention & visitors bureaus, and vacation publications are all joining the craft beer travel bandwagon.
A good example of what’s happening in beer tourism today occurred at the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference in Tampa last month. Speaking as an attendee, it was great to see a Beer Tourism session on the conference agenda, but it was even more exciting to see two local convention & visitors bureaus pitching in to help underwrite the conference experience.
The Visit Tampa Bay CVB took us out on a progressive food and beer dinner experience with stops at three Tampa breweries. From small (Ulele), to fancy (Coppertail), to legendary (Cigar City), the CVB showcased the range of brewery experiences Tampa has to offer.
The next day, the St. Petersburg-Clearwater CVB provided a highlights and lunch excursion to four of its exciting breweries. Our bus stopped at Cycle, Rapp, Green Bench and Three Daughters breweries, offering a flavorful sampling of what Pinellas County has to offer.
On the conference Beer Tourism panel, one memorable person was Anthony Derby, who owns and operates The Brew Bus. Starting up just a few years ago driving people to breweries around the Tampa Bay area, he now employs over a dozen folks with several buses. As Tampa-St. Pete has grown to become one of America’s more popular craft beer destinations, Derby is so encouraged that he is building his own brewery. This is incredible stuff.
WV Craft Beer Guide
Now, the West Virginia Division of Tourism has joined in with its own Craft Beer Guide. The pocket-sized booklet is divided into regional trails and craft beer events. It includes basic brewery info, a simple guide to beer flavors and styles, and a section where travelers can collect craft beer badges.
State Commissioner of Tourism Amy Shuler Goodwin is a big supporter of West Virginia’s new beer tourism initiative. As it promotions firm, the agency hired Fayetteville-based Digital Relativity, which is run by craft beer enthusiast Pat Strader. That definitely helped give beer tourism a seat at the table.
“From classic staples to limited release seasonal brews, you’ll find it here,” Commissioner Shuler Goodwin said, as she announced the new guidebook. “Visit our breweries, brewpubs and events to see–and taste–handcrafted West Virginia beer. And be sure to check out our suggested stops along the way.”
BrilliantStream welcomes this effort by Wild, Wonderful West Virginia. It will surely enhance the visibility of the state’s breweries. With increased visibility should come increased sales, employment, and profits for the industry. It’s definitely a win-win.
Use this link to order your own free copy of the state’s Craft Beer Guide.
WV Barrel Trail
On our WV Barrel Trail map, BrilliantStream.com maintains an up-to-date listing of all licensed West Virginia breweries, distilleries, and wineries. The listings include contact information for each.