Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It includes 30 breweries throughout the metro area.

Mike Pomranz
July 02, 2018

Frank Zappa famously said you can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. In America, it’s beginning to look like you can’t be a real city unless you have a beer trail (and maybe some sort of airport to boot).

Cleveland is the latest city to announce it's creating its own official beer trail — a trend that’s been increasingly popular in cities, states, and regions across the country as more areas look to capitalize on the growing phenomenon of beer tourism that has sprung up in the wake of America’s decade-long craft beer boom (the number of breweries in the country has ballooned to a once-unfathomable 6,300-plus).

Destination Cleveland, billed as the city’s “private non-profit convention and visitors bureau,” calls their trail the Cleveland Brewery Passport, and as the name implies, it comes with a physical passport (available from either Destination Cleveland or at participating breweries). The trail includes 30 breweries, all of which are within 25 miles of downtown, like Willoughby Brewing Co. to the east, Avon Brewing Co. to the west and The Brew Kettle in Strongsville to the south. Collecting stamps in your passport comes with rewards: eight stamps score you a Cleveland bottle opener, all 30 stamps earn you a Cleveland hat — and if you complete the whole trail in a year, you can enter to win a Cleveland getaway package.

“We've obviously been seeing [beer trails] in different areas of Ohio and the country. And we knew, too, that our brewery industry was just booming and has been for the past few years,” Jennifer Kramer, senior marketing manager for Destination Cleveland, told Crain’s Business Cleveland, which pointed out that the Ohio Craft Brewers Association now says there are eight official beer trails in the state. “We thought it was the perfect time to launch this because the brewers were talking about it, and we have lots of these folks as partners.”

Speaking of perfect timing, the announcement of the trail broke this morning, pretty much right around the time as that other big Cleveland news…that LeBron James is leaving the city to join the Los Angeles Lakers. In the wake of that bombshell, at least Cavalier fans now have a 30-stop brewery crawl to drink away their pain.