Delaware’s Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail is expanding

DOVER — Since its inception in 2010, the Delaware Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail has grown consistently and 10 new additions to the trail were announced Tuesday.

Ryan Tilley, vice president of marketing at Fordham & Dominion Brewery in Dover, discusses the expansion of the Delaware Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail. Fordham & Dominion has been a stop on the trail since the beginning in 2010. (Delaware State News/Ashton Brown)

Ryan Tilley, vice president of marketing at Fordham & Dominion Brewery in Dover, discusses the expansion of the Delaware Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail. Fordham & Dominion has been a stop on the trail since the beginning in 2010. (Delaware State News/Ashton Brown)

“The trail has been well established in Kent and Sussex, but now there are a lot more options, especially in New Castle County,” said Linda Parkowski, Delaware’s director of tourism.

The trail, which started as the Delaware Wine & Ale Trail in 2010, now boasts 24 stops as far north as Wilmington and as far south as Delmar.

The trail initially included only breweries and wineries but has since expanded to include cideries, distilleries and meaderies as the craft beverage business continues to grow.

The trend is national, but Delaware remains one of the leaders in craft beverages. The state produces the sixth most beer per capita and sees the ninth largest economic impact from craft brewing, according to the Brewers Association.

“I think in Delaware it all started 20 years ago with Dogfish Head,” Ms. Parkowski said. “But each brewery starts as a small business and there’s a trend that people want to spend their money locally and support these entrepreneurs who have made their dreams a reality.”

The Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail gives new and established craft brewers the opportunity to gain recognition and form relationships with other beverage businesses.

“A camaraderie has built up between the breweries and we are able to refer people to each other,” said Ryan Tilley, vice president of marketing at Fordham & Dominion Brewery in Dover.

Fordham & Dominion has been a stop on the trail since it started in 2010.

“Each stop on the trail must be open to the public and offer both tastings and tours; and before it becomes part of the trail, we try out the experience they have to offer,” Ms. Parkowski said.

Once the business gets Tourism’s seal of approval it can be added to the trail.

Patrons can keep track of their progress on the trail with an online passport. Once visitors complete 10 stops, the passport can be submitted to Visit Delaware in exchange for a glass beer mug with the trail’s logo.

More than 6,000 passports have been downloaded since the trail opened in 2010. But the passport will soon be available on smartphones through an app set to debut this summer.

“I think people like following the trail and using the passport because they aren’t only interested in craft beer and the taste, but how each of the breweries operate, too,” Mr. Tilley said.

Fordham & Dominion offers tours and tastings four days a week. Mr. Tilley estimated that many of the brewery’s patrons younger than 35 are out-of-state visitors. Bringing outsiders in was one of the main purposes for opening the trail.

“We know when people from out of state come here for the trail, they’re spending money that otherwise wouldn’t be spent in Delaware,” Ms. Parkowski said. “We want people to know Delaware is open for business and the growth of the craft brew industry is a testament to that.”

Tourism in a big business in Delaware with 8 million visitors adding $3 billion to the state’s economy in 2014, according to the state’s annual tourism report.

For more information about the Beer, Wine & Spirits Trail or to download a passport, go to visitdelaware.com/bwst.

Reach staff writer Ashton Brown at abrown@newszap.com. Follow @AshtonReports on Twitter.

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