New York State’s premier craft beer destination – The Finger Lakes Beer Trail – promotes the growing craft brewing industry in the Finger Lakes, showcasing the region’s microbreweries and brew pubs. The trail is comprised of over 100 craft brewers spanning roughly 210 miles across the central part of New York State from Rochester to Syracuse down to the Corning and Binghamton areas, resulting in a trail overflowing with natural beauty along which tourists and beer aficionados alike can enjoy an abundance of delicious locally brewed beers.
The mission of the Finger Lakes Beer Trail is to increase the visibility and reputation of the region’s craft brewers and other brewing-related businesses. In doing so, we aim to attract more beer-loving tourists to the Finger Lakes region thus ensuring continued economic growth and financial stability of our region’s craft brewing industry.
The number of craft breweries in the United States has increased sharply over the past three decades, from eight in 1980 to over 4,200 today. New York State boasts more than 200 of these breweries, with the greatest concentration of these breweries in the Finger Lakes and surrounding regions. Following the successful model of New York’s wine trails, the Finger Lakes Beer Trail has created a robust tourism marketing platform that includes an interactive web presence, social networking, print based promotions that include a trail map and day-trip itineraries, as well as aggressive promotion through local and national media attention.
Recognizing a need for increased awareness and promotion of the region’s craft brewing industry, The Finger Lakes Beer Trail was officially launched in February 2011. The trail is managed by Finger Lakes Beer Trail Marketing & Tourism Associates, LLC, under the leadership of Theresa Hollister, who is passionate about community development as it relates to the craft brewing industry in New York State. While originally modeled after the concept of the wine trails of Seneca, Cayuga, Keuka, and Canandaigua, the Finger Lakes Beer Trail has a become major tourism player in its own right. Today, the Finger Lakes Beer Trail is comprised of 100 craft brewing destinations encompassing 16 counties which collectively experience over $3 billion annually in economic activity related to travel and tourism, over $855 million of which is related to annual “food and beverage” sales, according to an analysis done by Tourism Economics, an international tourism consulting firm. While the wine trails are still likely the largest combined generator of these tourists, the Finger Lakes Beer Trail has become recognized as an important component for attracting a new niche-tourism market to the region.
Since it’s inception, the Finger Lakes Beer Trail has established itself as a proven marketing and promotion vehicle for the region’s craft brewing industry and the microbreweries. To date, the Finger Lakes Beer Trail has been featured in hundreds of television features (both local and non-local), radio programs, and local, regional, and national newspaper and magazine articles. Most notably the Finger Lakes Beer Trail has been featured in the The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Beer Advocate magazine, Chilled magazine, Yahoo! Travel, BBC Travel, the New York Daily News, and the Philadelphia Daily News. In a September 2015 travel article, The New York Times stated that the Finger Lakes region “has long been a top destination for wine lovers, but the region is quickly becoming a haven for beer drinkers as well. It is home to 70 breweries, according to Finger Lakes Beer Trail, a local trade group, up from just 24 in 2011. Twelve more are scheduled to open in the next few months.” (Update: the number of breweries along the trail today is over 100). Beer Advocate magazine, which has a monthly readership of over 150,000, featured the Finger Lakes Beer Trail as a craft beer tourism destination alongside Portland, Maine; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Atlanta, Georgia in its September 2014 issue. In October 2014, The Wall Street Journal featured the Finger Lakes Beer Trail as one of “six road trips for foodies” alongside the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the Hoosier Pie Trail, the New Hampshire Ice Cream Trail, and others. And, in December 2015, the Wall Street Journal featured the Finger Lakes Beer Trail in an article about the growth of small-scale craft beverage producers in New York State. Joe Sixpack (aka Don Russell), weekly beer columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, has written a number of articles about the Finger Lakes Beer Trail and lists it on his website as a recommended beer tourism destination.
Theresa Hollister has over 20 year of professional experience in program development, project management, and marketing. Drawing upon her extensive background in both the not-for-profit and for-profit arenas, she brings to the table a diverse mix of skills and expertise in the areas of financial planning, strategy development, marketing & promotion, and organizational branding. She has demonstrated success in stakeholder relationship-building, contract negotiation, and financial oversight in a variety of market segments including hospitality, tourism, economic development, and university research administration. Theresa also possesses expertise in social media marketing, small business development, and event planning.
Her educational background includes a Bachelor of Science in Business Studies from Buffalo State College and a Master of Public Administration, with particular emphasis in non-profit management, from Binghamton University. She is also a Certified Research Administrator (CRA) and worked as a senior grant and contract administrator for several years in the Sponsored Programs Office at Binghamton University. She is a 2008 graduate of the Leadership Development Institute sponsored by the National Council of University Research Administrators and a 1999 graduate of the Institute for Organizational Management sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the University of Delaware. In addition to her work with the Finger Lakes Beer Trail, she is the Assistant Director for Program Administration and Operations for the Center for Advanced Microelectronics Engineering (CAMM) at Binghamton University. In this capacity, she is responsible for managing New York State’s $40M flexible hybrid electronics manufacturing research node.