Updated with map & link to online Media Kit for access to photos, videos and images from the press event. The goal of the HH Craft Beer Country program is to capitalize on the nation's growing interest in craft beers and to promote the area's breweries in ways that accentuate the educational and experiential side of local brewing.
Hershey, PA: Taking center stage in front of a spanning logo backdrop proclaiming “Welcome to the Country” framed by towering kegs adorning the names of twelve local breweries, Jason Reimer, co-owner of the recently opened Brewery at Hershey, addressed the audience of over 100 local beer enthusiasts that assembled at Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg today to launch the Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country (HHCBC).
Reimer, who also serves as HHCBC President, explained how the new coalition of twelve (12) independent breweries located in the heart of Central PA are working in partnership on the new program with the HersheyHarrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau (HHRVB) and Dauphin County Economic Development.
“With the support of Dauphin County and the Visitors Bureau, we are going to draw the attention of new audiences and drive visitation and overnight stays with our mission and our dedication to producing quality events,” Reimer said. “As the co-owner of The Vineyard at Hershey and now The Brewery at Hershey, I’m dedicated to showcasing the fine art of the beer and wine that we are able to produce in this region. It’s truly the best of both worlds here.”
The goal of the HHCBC program is to capitalize on the nation’s growing interest in craft beers and to promote the area breweries year-round in ways that accentuate the educational and experiential side of local brewing. The program will contribute to the local economy through increased tourism and new small business development according to Reimer.
According to the Brewers Association there are over 2,400 craft breweries in the U.S. and 100 in Pennsylvania. A high concentration of those unique independent craft breweries is located in Central PA within a thirty-minute radius of the town of Hershey. The epicenter of this concentration could be considered Troegs Brewing Company, one of the largest craft breweries in the country that opened a new 90,000 square-foot brewery headquarters in Hershey in 2011.
As the craft beer industry continues to grow throughout the mid-state with new breweries such as Al’s of Hampden/Pizza Boy Brewing and Saint Boniface Craft Brewing Company joining the traditional favorites such as Appalachian Brewing Company and Lancaster Brewing Company, beer enthusiasts throughout the Mid-Atlantic region are taking notice.
In a recent report from the Beer Institute, thirty-four (34) brewing establishments were identified within the four
(4) Pennsylvania U.S. Congressional Districts that make up the new HHCBC footprint (Districts 4, 11, 15, 16).
The grand vision for HHCBC was modeled after the Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country (HHWC) program that Reimer and his associates launched in 2012. Since then the coalition of wineries has grown to 15 vineyard partners and has successfully produced a series of signature events that emphasize the experiential and educational aspects of wine making throughout the region.
Reimer stated that when he was instituting both the Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country and Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country programs he simply asked each partner to commit to being relentless in their pursuit of making Central Pennsylvania a recognized and respected destination for high quality, uniquely handcrafted beers and wines.
The first signature event for HHCBC will be The Central Pennsylvania Oktoberfest at Hollywood Casino on Saturday, October 5, 2013. The inaugural event described as a trackside festival experience will include a taste of the handcrafted brews from the region finely paired with Pennsylvania Dutch foods and live music by local musicians. The event will conclude with the “Run for the Laurels” – the first live thoroughbred horserace of the evening sponsored by the Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country at 6pm. Tickets for the event are available now at https://paoktoberfest.eventbrite.com.
The second event will be March Craftness slated for the last two weekends in March 2014. This educational event will enable guests to attend “craft class” with special craft tastings at each participating brewery and a commemorative souvenir glass. Check the HHCBC web site for details and ticket information.
COUNTRY VS TRAIL
Don’t call it a trail. Reimer was quick to differentiate the Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country and Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country programs from beer or wine trails in other areas. The difference he said is the motivation and goals for the program and how the material is packaged and presented to consumers.
“The Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country and Wine Country programs are designed to package the Hershey Harrisburg region as a destination for those who really want to learn more about the art and culture of our region in regards to their passion for beer or wine,” said Reimer. “With this new program we are raising a flag that tells regional and national beer enthusiasts this area is home to a wide array of unique craft brewers and brewery experiences, but all with a narrow focus on quality and a commitment to craftsmanship.”
Mary Smith, President for the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau also spoke about how the new program would serve as a powerful moniker for the bureau to market the increasing number of annual festivals throughout the region that promote local beer and wine paired with regional food, music, and the arts.
“Events are one of the main drivers for overnight stays in our region,” Smith said. “Attending festivals that feature craft breweries and local vineyards has become a trending interest among several of today’s most affluent travelers.”
Those seeking these festivals now represent a new market segment for the regional tourism bureau, according to Smith. The demographic for festivals is primarily young professionals, couples with double income and no kids (aka D.I.N.K.S), and baby boomers. The good news for the local tourism industry is that these festivals draw a market segment with time and expendable income and represent new business by attracting those who may
have not previously considered the region traditionally recognized as a family destination.
The new HHCBC program also marks another positive step that area business has taken in recent years to expand the travel and tourism offerings to include more diverse experiences and adult-oriented attractions.
According to Smith, the addition of table gaming at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course in 2010 and the introduction of the Hershey Harrisburg Wine Country program in 2012 have both helped the bureau secure new business and retain clientele within important market segments such as groups, meetings and conventions.
“These groups aren’t seeking the traditional family attractions that make up our peak summer season,” Smith said, “But these markets are critical to filling the region’s 8,000 hotel rooms the other nine months of the year.”
The Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country is also an important ingredient in the region’s economy, according to Christopher Thorne, VP of Communications at the Beer Institute, and a Philadelphia native who presented findings from a March 2013 report Beer Serves America, commissioned by the Beer Institute and the National Beer Wholesalers Association to measure the impact of the U.S. beer industry across economic sectors including agriculture, brewers, distributors and retailers.
“With almost $2 billion in total economic impact in this region, the beer industry is an economic powerhouse in Central Pennsylvania, and all across the U.S.,” said Thorne. “These brewers along with all American brewers and beer importers play an important role in the economy by creating jobs locally and nationally.”
Every one (1) job in a brewery supports another forty-five (45) jobs outside the brewery in farming, manufacturing, distributing, retail, and the service industry, according to Thorne. The report identified thirty-four (34) brewing and seventy-four (74) wholesaling establishments within the four (4) Pennsylvania U.S. Congressional Districts included in the HHCBC footprint. According to the Thorne, the beer industry within the area that makes up the new Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country supports the following:
Jobs = 14,803 (7,463 directly employed in brewing, distributing, retail; 7,340 in supplier & induced employment);
Wages & Benefits = $580 Million ($201,511,700 in direct wages & benefits in brewing, distributing, retail; $378,473,700 in secondary wages & benefits).
Economic Impact (total) = $1.96 Billion ($743,838,800 direct impact; $1.2 Billion secondary impact);
THE FUNDING PARTNERSHIP
The first year of the program is being partially supported by a $50,000 Tourism Development Grant from the Dauphin County Economic Development Office. The grant program invests a portion of the hotel room tax collected by the county back into programs that stimulate new tourism-related business and cooperative tourism marketing programs. The HHRVB, the organization that received the grant has been working with the HHCBC to allocate the funds for paid advertising, promotional items, and marketing materials including brochures and a new web site www.HersheyHarrisburgBeer.com. The bureau also contributes in-kind services to assist the new coalition in the first year with public relations and social media assistance.
“We are proud to support the launch of the Hershey Harrisburg Craft Beer Country,” said Dauphin County Commissioner Chairman Jeff Haste. “We believe in the ingenuity of our business leaders in Dauphin County and we like to see new ideas filter up from within those industries. This grant was an investment in an industry that is showing great growth in our region and has future potential for broadening our region’s appeal to consumer travelers and meetings and convention planners. This collaborative marketing program also speaks to our quality of life and provides our residents with another reason to work and play in Dauphin County. This is an ideal example of how a public-private partnership can work.”
THE BREWERIES (Alphabetical Order)
Al’s of Hampden/Pizza Boy Brewing Company
Market Cross Pub & Brewery
Alter Ego Brewing Company
Millbock Brewing Company
Appalachian Brewing Company (ABC)
Saint Boniface Craft Brewing Company
Snitz Creek Brewery
JoBoy’s Brew Pub
The Brewery at Hershey
Lancaster Brewing Company (LBC)
Troegs Brewing Company