Trail of beers

'I Love NY Beer' program would include 'brewery passport'

June 21, 2005 - A bill making its way through the New York legislature would create a New York state beer trail, similar to those the wine industry has used to attract millions of oenophiles to the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley and eastern Long Island.


Under the bill, which has already passed the Senate, the Empire State Brewery Trails Program would create an "I Love NY Beer" promotion that will include a brewery trail, vacation itineraries, and a "brewery passport" booklet filled with discounts and information on surrounding attractions.

"Such a rich history of the brewing industry is here, and we ought to be exploiting that if we can," said Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn), sponsor of the legislation. "We have a whole group of microbreweries recapturing the beer brewing tradition of yesteryear and making it a significant industry again in New York." Lentol doesn't drink, but his district was the home of original Schaeffer brewery and currently hosts the Brooklyn Brewery.

The beer trail would mimic the winery tours already promoted by the New York State Department of Economic Development.

"The wine trails have been wildly successful in bringing people to upstate New York and the Hudson Valley - hooking them together and moving them from one winery to the other," said Larry Bennett, marketing director for Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown. "We're hoping a beer program can do the same thing for the more than 60 breweries in the state."

New York's rich brewery tradition dates to the 1630s, when the Dutch West India Company established the country's first public brewery in New York City, Lentol said.

"We're delighted that the legislature has recognized the importance of the brewing industry in New York state," said Stephen Hindy, Brooklyn Brewery's founder and president. "We think the promotion of the breweries will be good for tourism and good for sales of New York state beer."