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Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Ale Trail’

The Columbus Ale Trail is a book among other things

Posted by cmh gourmand on August 28, 2018

Have you heard of the Columbus Ale Trail? Did you complete Volume 1, 2 and/or 3? Are you working on Volume 4? I am one of the founders of the project and have invested about 60 to 100 work hours each year to make it happen. While I have not yet published a book…Book, I suppose in some sense, this was my first book project. Each year I have helped get it to print doing various duties and for the last two years I have been a project manager of sorts taking care of gathering the content, editing it, determining the formatting and special features, deciding on the lay out, how the maps will be put together, etc. Each late March / early April I can count on having one or two really shitty weeks pushing to get all of this to print by deadline and I can always count on some last-minute glitch to come up the make sure we are cutting things right to the wire. The greatest challenge for Volume 4 was when I came to get the final copy of the book and do last-minute proofreading so I could hand off the USB of the product for the printers at noon. I arrived at the designers house at 10 AM to discover he thought the turn in day was the day after and the maps had not been started yet. In that situation only one thing could be done – take a shot, pull up two chairs and start making two maps from scratch. The maps look pretty good considering they were created in less than ninety minutes. As for the proofreading, I can tell you where the errors I could not catch in the twenty remaining minutes are located.

It has been said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the case of the Columbus Ale Trail we were not flattered by the Route 33 Brew Trail, a product of the Fairfield County Convention and Visitors Bureau (aka Visit Fairfield County). Their first version was released in May of this year. It was not an imitation it was an outright copy (wording, layout, formatting, etc., etc.) to the point of being blatant intellectual property theft. When I met with their executive team in June they seemed baffled that I would have any concerns about what they presented as some type of misunderstanding. It was an absolutely frustrating experience to get stonewalled. At the time of this writing they have never provided a feasible explanation as to what happened. There are only two plausible options: 1) They made a conscious decision to copy the ale trail or 2) Their designer decided to make a twenty plus hour project a two-hour copy job and over-billed the good taxpayers of Fairfield County. Anyone that has put the two books side by side has come to the same conclusion, there is no way to accidentally copy whole paragraphs.

The end result is that they have now produced a new version of their Brew Trail which is closer to being an original work and by report they dumped 3500 of the 6000 copies they printed earlier. The bigger consequence of their lack of remorse and in my opinion professionalism and class in dealing with the situation is they and their Brew Trail have a big black mark with the craft beer community in Central Ohio. I could further explain the damage that was done, but by doing so, I would once again be doing them a favor for free.

Last year over 2370 people visited all 38 brewery sites listed in the Columbus Ale Trail (Volume 3). If you conservatively estimate that $6 was spent at each brewery then each brewery saw at an absolute minimum of $14,220 in business for a listing that cost them $600. A minimum total revenue for the craft beer community as a whole is $540,360. That is a minimum because that number does not count the people who only went to four, eight or any number less than 38 breweries. I’d settle for 1% of the revenue as compensation but I can assure you I have not seen anything remotely close to that. What I did earn was the respect of the people I worked with to have made this happen for the last four years. So if you happen to have an inclination to steal the creative property of the Columbus Ale Trail, you are making a lot of people very angry. That can not bode well for anyone or any organization, that is classic bad Karma.

That is one story of the Ale Trail, there are literally thousands more and most of those are significantly more upbeat and positive.

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Posted in Food For Thought | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Columbus Ale Trail Tales: Volume 1

Posted by cmh gourmand on April 29, 2016

I have been fortunate to be able to expand the overlapping cultures/communities I belong to. In the early 2000’s I found myself in the newly established food blogger community, which led to the undiscovered world of Taco Trucks which then drove me to the culture of street food which indirectly led me to a new career which in turn connected me to some in the world of Columbus Craft Beer just before the explosion of craft breweries in 2013 and after. Along the way I collected some new skills, some friends, business relationships and etc. All of those overlapping networks led to a spontaneous project.

Several of us had encountered versions of craft beer trails around the country. My neighbors brought me a flier from Boston that got me to thinking about how it might work in Columbus. John from the Ohio Tap Room contacted me about the same idea at about the same time and within a week we had a group of four of us that then connected with the Ohio Craft Brewers Association, who were just starting to have that thought as well. At that point we thought Experience Columbus might be interested so we met with them. We all thought a Columbus Craft Beer passport of some sort made sense and thus the Columbus Ale Trail was born.

It was a very quick gestation. We decided we wanted to launch the Ale Trail at the beginning of the first ever Columbus Craft Beer Week. This meant we had to create something awesome from scratch in less than two months. Many hours, and ideas, and late night edits later, the first Ale Trail Brew Books were ready for delivery. They started to filter out on May 1st and the first prize redemption for visiting all twenty breweries was on May 2nd. Oh my, we were on to something. The first 10,000 books were gone within a few weeks. With that validation and some quick planning and a bit of tweaking we obtained funds from the breweries to print another 20,000 books.

Today with just a few days left in the first year of the Columbus Ale Trail, the project has been a slam dunk. Over 600 people have visited all 20 listed breweries. Almost 1000 have visited 4 breweries to get a free pint glass from Experience Columbus. And countless people have visited one to nineteen breweries just for the heck of it without redeeming for anything. It has been exciting, humbling and for me, redeeming as well. It is great to be part of an idea that turns out to be successful and in the process helps all of the small brewing businesses get new fans and grow their brands.

As I write this, Volume 2 of the Columbus Ale Trail Brew Book has been sent off to the printer (after a lot of edits, and formatting, and changes, and bears, oh my!). The prize for completing the trail this time around (28 breweries) is a customized deck of cards featuring logos from almost all of our local breweries. It looks great. (See a card example below). The books should be ready by May 13th and the cards should be ready to hand to the first person (and all subsequent Ale Trailers) to go to all 28 sites (hopefully) within the following week.

Smokehouse

Over the course of the past year I have personally passed out almost 2000 Ale Trail books to people on brewery tours. I’ve spoken with over 100 people using the books as I have crossed paths with them at breweries all over Central Ohio. The consistent message is: This is great! I can’t say that anytime in my professional career have I been lucky enough to work on a project that was universally loved like this. What I have heard frequently and what I like the most is that people enjoy the book – because it is a book, not a gadget, or app but something real and tangible that they enjoy looking at, reading through and most importantly getting the stamp (of approval) at each brewery they visit.

While I have heard great stories, my two favorite are documented below and I was lucky enough to have a small part in each.

The two ladies below completed their Ale Trail last fall. They enjoyed it so much they made costumes to wear to their last few stops. I met them at the Ohio Taproom where they came to get their Ale Trail T-shirt to reward them for their efforts. I hope they get to wear these costumes again for Volume 2.

Ohio Ale Trail heroines


ale trail heroines

The image you see below is a cautionary tale. A couple came into the Ohio Taproom while I was wrapping up a tour there. The wife was excited but the husband seemed a bit forlorn. As it turned out, only she was redeeming. He shared a tale of woe in that he had pocketed his book after they hit the last stop, forgot about it and washed his pants without removing the contents. The results are shown below.

ale trail mishap

As part of the Ale Trail team, I authorized the shreds of book as complete and he was validated for finishing the trail too. Lesson for Volume 2, keep your Ale Trail book in a special place and monitor closely. Friends don’t let friends lose or wash a perfectly good Ale Trail book.

Good luck to all racing to finish Volume 2 of the Ale Trail and congratulations to those that finished all or most of Volume 1.

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