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UPDATED: Beer Ye! Beer Ye! The Niagara Ale Trail points the way to good craft beer in the region

Niagara beer

By Jill Currie
It has often been said that it takes a lot of good beer to make good wine, and that’s certainly true when it comes to Niagara as a wine destination.

While in the past, the variety of local beer for thirsty winemakers has been fairly limited, but the opposite is true today.

Not since pre-prohibition times has Niagara offered so many local options, now sporting 13 craft breweries in the region and growing. And, for the first time, they can all be found in one online resource that has recently been launched called the Niagara Ale Trail.

The Niagara Ale Trail is an initiative led by Karen Doyle of the City of St. Catharine’s tourism and marketing office and based on a concept by Chimpanzee, a local communications agency. Doyle took on the project in order to provide a resource for locals and tourists alike that provides a comprehensive and up-to-date list of breweries in the region from Lincoln to Ridgeway and everywhere in between.

“I recognized the craft beer movement’s rise in popularity and saw an opportunity to create this resource before someone else did,” says Doyle. “This labour of love is in its infancy so far as potential is concerned, much like the industry itself.”

Niagara Ale Trail

Currently, funding for the project is provided through the city of St. Catharines, with matching funds by the province in conjunction with the Tourism Partnership of Niagara. Doyle, however, hopes to see more balanced regional participation and funding in the future.

The Niagara Ale Trail uses the existing infrastructure of the Tourism Partnership of Niagara for the website as an already existing driver of online traffic for tourism in Niagara. Much like the Niagara Wine Trail, the Niagara Ale Trail strives to be an ambassador for the industry with a clear and consistent message that allows breweries to shine individually.

In terms of design, the logo itself was designed with simplicity in mind so as not to upstage the real stars of the show, the breweries themselves.

“I’m an awareness liaison,” says Doyle. “The breweries need to do what they do best.”

In its simplest form, the site is a map with clear and mobile friendly links that take you to the individual websites of each brewery.

By providing a direct link to the breweries’ websites, it allows the breweries with the opportunity to speak their own message in their own way and connect beer drinkers to them.

For locals it’s a handy reminder of our nearby options.

From a tourism perspective, however, it’s acting as a pretty effective gateway to a relatively new scene in the Niagara region. In addition to brewery information, the site also includes an itinerary planner, which is a nice consideration for the first time visitor and may encourage a more well-rounded Niagara experience.

With a heavy focus on social media, you may have seen The Niagara Ale Trail pop up in your feed already. If you haven’t you can find them here @niagaraaletrail on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. There you will find updates about events at the breweries, information about new beer releases and links to updated draught lists throughout the region’s bars and restaurants.

Note: This is Jill Currie’s first post on Wines In Niagara. You can find more info on Jill here at our About page.