Paul Leone began his career as a multi-media producer for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York. He soon moved on to editing, shooting, and producing several series for cable television and later worked in the studio, agency, and advertising industry. As a TV producer, he wrote and developed several television pilots on American craft beer, the first few hosted by Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head. Although they were never picked up, he discovered his passion for craft beer and knew what he wanted to do as a career moving forward. From 2008-2013, he hosted Beer America TV with John Pinkerton of Moon River Brewing and today, Paul is the Executive Director of the New York State Brewers Association. Since starting, Paul has seen New York’s brewing industry double in size, many new laws passed and has met hundreds of incredible and passionate brewers all over the state and country.
On this episode of Destination on the Left, I talk with Paul about how attractive hyper-local experiences are, but how they can be a challenge to market beyond a region. They also dig into how craft brewing has grown and has become a major attraction in tourism for many regions.
It is no big surprise that beer is important to people- it’s important to economies. But to understand the economic impact on local economies, and the tourism dollars pumped into local economies, a study needed to be done. That’s where the New York State Brewer’s Association comes in and the numbers are impressive for the craft beer industry.
In New York State alone, the economic impact is 5.4 billion dollars in economic impact. Brewers employ 20,000 people across the state and craft brewing creates a $317 million impact on tourism. If those wine and brewery trails are paying off in your region, you are definitely not alone. Craft brewing is big business, spread across small businesses throughout any given region. It matters in a big way to the tourism industry in particular.
Visitors love the local flavor and nothing offers local flavor better than a cold, locally crafted beer. But how do you let potential visitors know all that local flavor – whether beer, wine, or some other regional specialty or recreation activity? That is the challenge Paul was facing New York State’s multi-faceted craft-brewery industry.
Beer Festivals have been a recent focal point. Paul noticed that many festivals were run by distributors – people got a variety of beer for their festival ticket, but they didn’t get any real connection with the people who actually crafted that beer.
Bringing the brewers right to the festival makes all the difference – to the point where they didn’t need musical entertainment anymore! By focusing on the brewers, festivals have become even more of a draw, and the hyper-local flavors are described by the people who actually make them.
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