Travelocity Debuts New Beer Tourism Index

Beercations Are Booming

Beer tourism is a big deal. We estimate that in 2014, more than 10 million people toured small and independent craft breweries. That’s a lot of brewery tours. Just search “beercations” and you’ll get a plethora of results on where to tour local breweries.

More than 7 percent of craft sales (by volume) now happen at the source—the brewery. Craft brewers are now a main attraction for travelers. For example, in 2015, the Brewers Association’s three-day Great American Beer Festival generated the equivalent of 2 percent of Denver’s GDP, accounting for $28.6 million.  Beer tourism is so strong that travel website Travelocity just published a beer tourism index.

In a Travelocity survey of 1,003 people, more than three-quarters said they would like to go on a trip where they visited craft breweries and sampled local beer. With numerous beer trails flourishing across the U.S. and beer events including festivals and special beer releases racking up millions upon millions of tourism trips and dollars, the modern beercation is a boon to beer.

The Brewers Association commissioned a Nielsen Omnibus panel in June 2016 that asked, “How many, if any, craft breweries have you visited at their site in the past 12 months while traveling?” The answer: on average 2.1 breweries. Impressive.

So without further ado, here is more on the new beer tourism index from the October 18 Travelocity press release:

By examining the location of all breweries in the U.S. and looking at other factors important to a successful “beercation,” including the availability of rideshare services, accessibility via air, and the average cost of lodging, this index identified the best large and small metro areas to sample some of the nation’s best craft beers.

The top metro areas are*:

Top 6 Large Metro Areas Top 6 Small Metro Areas
1) Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA 1) Bend, OR
2) Denver-Aurora, CO 2) Boulder, CO
3) Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA 3) Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
4) Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, ME 4) Corvallis, OR
5) Colorado Springs, CO 5) Missoula, MT
6) Santa Rosa-Petaluma, CA 6) Burlington-South Burlington, VT

View Travelocity’s full list of top beer destinations.

No matter what you call it—beercation, brewery visits, or tourism for beer—one true mark of success for today’s craft brewers is the trend of traveling for beer.

beercations
*To find the top metropolitan areas for beer tourism, Travelocity scored the over 300 US MSAs (Metropolitan Statistical Areas) on four factors:
  • Breweries per 1 million residents: Working with the Brewers Association (an organization representing the majority of independent brewers in the US), every MSA was scored by the number of breweries and brewpubs per 1 million residents
  • Rideshare availability: To get a full sampling of a region’s beer culture, a beer tourist may need to visit multiple breweries across the area. Rideshare services like Uber or Lyft are invaluable for this, so each MSA was scored on availability of both, either, or neither of these services.
  • Nonstop air destinations: If the MSA has an airport with scheduled air service – from how many destinations is nonstop service available?
  • Lodging score: Each MSA was scored on the price of an average room night for the 2015 calendar year. The lower the price, the higher the score for the MSA.

Julia is craft beer program director at the Brewers Association and publisher of CraftBeer.com. She is a homebrewer, a BJCP beer judge, Certified Cicerone®, co-author of the CraftBeer.com Beer & Food Course and co-author of Beer Pairing (Voyageur Press). In her role at the BA she serves as an educator and as a spokesperson for the association.

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