I had the pleasure of sitting in on an organizational meeting this morning (Jan. 19) for the second annual Summit Brew Path – the Akron-centric craft brewery trail that winds through Summit, Stark, Portage and Medina counties.

The Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau, which organizes the trail, is still working out details but the plan is to launch this year on March 10.

Here are some quick, and probably random, highlights from the meeting (and I’ll be exploring some of this more indepth in future stories):

1. Organizers handed out just shy of 20,000 passports in the first year, with about 2,600 people visiting all the stops and receiving every stamp from the 14 official stops. In other words, it was pop-u-lar.

2. The brewers called the program a resounding success. They now are interested in figuring out how to drive repeat business after someone has visited their place and gotten their stamp.

3. A family brought an urn – containing the ashes of their deceased mother – around to several breweries. The mother had started the tour and the family was determined to complete her passport in her honor.

4. So who attended this meeting? There were representatives of Aqueduct, BrickOven, HiHO, Hop Tree, Hoppin’ Frog, Ignite, MadCap, Magic City, Missing Falls, Mucky Duck, Ohio, R. Shea, Royal Docks, Thirsty Dog, Two Monks and Wadsworth.

5. Wade Litt, a visiting assistant professor of practice at the University of Akron, is interested in doing a study on the economic impact of the first Brew Path.

6. There will be plenty of new featured breweries on the trail this year, thanks to Hop Tree opening in Hudson, Headtrip in Stow, and Ignite and Magic City in Barberton, for example. But only breweries that are open by March 10 will be a participating brewery with a stamp. That leaves upcoming places such as Missing Falls in Akron out as a featured brewery but they will be referenced.

7. The inaugural Brew Path was free for breweries. The Convention & Visitors Bureau picked up the tab. This year, the featured breweries are being asked to contribute $500 to offset the costs.

8. There are many breweries opening in surrounding counties, but the Convention & Visitors Bureau wants to limit the growth to Summit County. It is, after all, the Akron/Summit Convention & Visitors Bureau.

9. There’s some good news for four breweries outside the county that were featured during the inaugural Summit Brew Path. They aren’t being kicked off the trail. Royal Docks in Jackson Township, MadCap in Kent, Wadsworth in Wadsworth and Canton in Canton are grandfathered in as part of the trail. (Scenic, in Jackson Township, has announced that it is closing.) But, for example, don’t expect to see the new Sandy Springs in Minerva, Paradigm Shift in Massillon or future Fat Head’s in Plain Township as a featured stop.

10. John Bikis, founder of Royal Docks, mentioned that there’s talk of a Stark County-centric beer trail.

11. There was plenty of debate about what prize beer drinkers should receive if they complete the entire trail. Last year, the prize was a T-shirt.

12. “Don’t make it a crappy brown T-shirt,” Two Monks co-founder Patrick Armstead implored.

13. Yes, there were many complaints about the poo-colored T-shirt that featured the Summit Brew Path logo. The passports also were brown.

14. Organizers aren’t certain what the reward will be. But don’t expect another T-shirt, just because of the hassle they encountered in ordering different sizes and handing them out.

15. And don’t be surprised if the prize ends up being an embroidered, unisex baseball cap. The baseball cap idea didn’t get a resounding response from the brewers in attendance who noted that many people don’t wear hats.

16. “People want shirts,” said Ali Hovan, co-founder of HiHO in Cuyahoga Falls. Meanwhile, Fred Karm, brewer and founder of Hoppin’ Frog in Akron, noted that his customers buy shirts 3-to-1 over hats at his brewery.

17. Other ideas included: a pint glass, bottle opener, lapel pin, sticker and tin sign. (I have floated the goofy idea of socks. Hey, it’s different!)

18. But the Convention & Visitors Bureau really likes the idea that the prize becomes a walking billboard for the Summit Brew Path and the Akron community.

19. “We’re going to work on what that might be,” Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Gregg Mervis said.