Ohio will soon have a statewide beer trail.
The Ohio Craft Brewers Association is launching Ohio On Tap, a brewery passport app designed for Apple and Android phones.
The free app will go live May 12, which also happens to be the kickoff for Columbus Craft Beer Week.
It will feature 135 breweries throughout the state, allow people to customize a regional beer tour and offer prizes for beer drinkers as they hit milestones along the way.
The overarching goal is to encourage beer drinkers to get outside their local community and visit other Ohio breweries, especially those in more rural areas, said Justin Hemminger, spokesman for the Ohio Craft Brewers Association.
Ohio will be only the third state in the country with a statewide beer trail app, following New York and Nevada, he said. The digital passport program was developed by Brewers Marketing of Boca Raton, Fla., which also did the New York and Nevada apps and is designing one for Washington.
Traditional beer trails, like the Summit Brew Path in Akron and Columbus Ale Trail in Columbus, involve paper passports with breweries literally stamping beer books.
Ohio On Tap uses a GPS tracker to electronically “stamp” the digital passport.
One advantage with a passport app is that new breweries can be added whenever they open.
In other words, Ohio On Tap — the name stems from the annual Ohio On Tap magazine — will start with 135 breweries but it certainly will grow.
The trail will feature many fan favorites such as Great Lakes in Cleveland, Thirsty Dog in Akron, MadTree in Cincinnati, Warped Wing in Dayton, Maumee Bay in Toledo and Barley’s in Columbus.
There also are plenty that are off the beaten path like Moeller Brew Barn in Maria Stein, Staas in Delaware, Father John’s in Bryan and Old Firehouse in Williamsburg.
People will find many breweries missing from the trail. Only association members are included in the program. (That’s one of the perks of being an association member, Hemminger noted.)
Beer drinkers will have one year from the date they sign up to visit as many as they can. The prizes will include a lapel pin, signs and hats.
The grand prize for hitting every brewery on the tour will be an enhanced enthusiast membership into the Ohio Craft Brewers Association (retail value: $65) and an insulated growler. The membership comes with an association hoodie, decal and membership card.
Will anybody be able to visit 135 breweries (or more) in a year?
“It’s a challenge for sure,” Hemminger said.
“I am confident we will be giving away prizes,” he added.
Fred Lee, co-founder of Actual Brewing Co. in Columbus, said he remains a fan of the paper passports, but added that the online version is a positive promotion that will help drive people to explore more breweries in the state.
“It’s about time,” he said about a statewide trail. “It’s awesome.”