To promote its craft brewer members and to encourage beer tourism, the Ohio Craft Brewers Association is launching an app that helps people find breweries.
Beer tourism is big. The Ohio Craft Brewers Association is launching a mobile app called Ohio on Tap to lead customers to breweries. To go along with it, OCBA has created a statewide beer trail and a digital “passport” program. People who visit the breweries on the trail get virtual passports “stamped” through the app.
“It’s a means of promoting beer tourism in the state of Ohio,” said Communications Manager Justin Hemminger. “Part of our mission is to help them sell beer. It’s a very powerful tool to get the word out for all of our members.”
Users who open up the app can easily find breweries nearby, through GPS, and they can get directions as well. The app’s GPS also verifies the passport stamps.
The app displays more than just a brewery’s location and contact information. It also includes information such as a current list of products and upcoming events the brewery is hosting. Brewery members can customize their listings on the app.
OCBA is launching the app during Columbus Craft Beer Week in May, and it will be available for Apple and Android devices. To encourage people to use Ohio on Tap, the association is offering rewards—such as merchandise—for people who visit 25, 50, or 100 breweries, as well as those who complete the passport by visiting all the member breweries.
The group plans to use the app’s analytics and member feedback to assess performance once it launches. Hemminger said some regional organizations have been using similar beer trail/passport programs that have proven popular with craft brewing enthusiasts.
The craft beer industry is growing across the country. According to the Brewers Association, the number of operating breweries in the United States grew 16.6 percent in 2016. The 5,301 breweries included 3,132 microbreweries, 1,916 brewpubs, 186 regional craft breweries, and 67 large or other non-craft brewers. And beer tourism is growing as well—Travelocity has even created a Beer Tourism Index.
OCBA had 32 brewery members in May 2013, and that number has grown to 143, plus another 19 member breweries slated to open sometime this year.
“With the growing popularity of craft beer, we have also seen a corresponding increase in the beer tourism business,” Hemminger said. “We are working with the organizers of regional beer trails and brewery tour services in Ohio to cross-promote their programs with our statewide passport app.”
The Ohio on Tap app “shines light on everyone making great craft beer here in Ohio,” he said.