Summit Suds: Trade associations launch Liquid Arts Passport
After a long pandemic year, people are eager to hit the road this summer, and with a new destination comes the adventure of exploring new restaurants, wineries, breweries and more.
Colorado Liquid Arts knows locals and guests are itching to visit new and familiar hangouts, which is why the collective launched the Liquid Arts Passport. Helmed by the Colorado Association for Viticulture & Enology, the Colorado Brewers Guild, the Colorado Cider Guild and the Colorado Distillers Guild, the program combines wine, cider, beer and spirits onto a single passport that can be redeemed for deals throughout participating businesses across the state.
The idea came to the group last year, when it had regular meetings discussing hardships felt by the various trade associations. The group decided the passport program was a good fit to promote and support the industries hurt from canceled festivals and other fundraisers.
“This is pretty unique,” Colorado Brewers Guild Executive Director Shawnee Adelson said. “We don’t know of any other state that has something like this, where all four trade associations are working together on a fundraising and promotion effort.”
The web-based digital passport can be purchased at Taste.COLiquidArts.org and doesn’t require an app or promo code. Servers look at a patron’s phone, ensure the passport is valid and mark it off that it was redeemed — which can be done only once per business.
Passport holders can choose from five- or 90-day passes from four regions that mirror the eight established by the Colorado Tourism Office. For example, Summit County is located in Rockies Playground, while Colorado Springs is grouped in Pikes Peak Wonders.
At the moment, only Broken Compass Brewing and Breckenridge Distillery are signed up in Summit County. There’s no fee for a business to join the program, other than being a member in its respective trade association, and Adelson said the passport will probably update quarterly.
Business promotions like the Liquid Arts Passport aren’t new. According to marketing manager Jessie Unruh-Brossman, Breckenridge Distillery participates in The Passport Program’s mountain sector, and similar initiatives can be found in metropolitan areas around the country. Yet those usually focus on one type of beverage and one season.
The time frame on the Liquid Arts Passport only starts ticking down when first used, meaning it can be gifted to a friend or prepurchased before a vacation any time of the year.
“Summit County is a tourism destination, so the five-day is much more appealing to those that are on vacation,” Adelson said. “Even the 90-day are appealing to those that are on the Front Range and may come up regularly to go skiing or hiking.”
Competing programs also tend to simplify discounts to a flat two-for-one deal. Yet the associations decided to let the businesses choose how their discounts work. Broken Compass offers a free taster, and Breckenridge Distillery allows for a buy one, get one old fashioned in addition to a free high-end sample.
For comparison, the passport’s Denver region starts at $30 for a five-day pass and increases to over $300 in savings due to more participants. People can expect discounts, such as $5 off CopperMuse Distillery bottles or 20% off draft beer from Dos Luces Brewery.
Broken Compass isn’t signed up with any similar service, and founder Jason Ford joined because of the passport’s ties to the Colorado Brewers Guild, which he said helped lobby to classify breweries as essential businesses at the start of the pandemic. He also appreciates that he can change the deal at any time to coincide with the seasons or special releases and events.
Other for-profit passports might donate a small portion to charity, but Ford and Unruh-Brossman said they both like that the program directly supports the nonprofit associations, which then in turn support the trades with advocacy, promotion, research and education.
“They’ve become a dime a dozen in recent years, and the lack of return in previous runs has dissuaded us from joining,” Ford wrote in an email about other discount programs. “The added ease of use, versatility across spirits industries and the benefit to the Colorado Brewers Guild made the Liquid Arts Passport a no-brainer for us.”
As someone who tends to neglect other fine spirits in favor of beer, I’m eager to try this out while exploring more of what Colorado has to offer. It will be interesting to see what comes of it, if other states follow suit and how it grows and changes over time.
Jefferson Geiger is the arts and entertainment editor for the Summit Daily News and managing editor for Explore Summit. Have a question about beer? Send him an email at email@example.com.
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