Number and distance of locations helped reduce Urban Ale Trail crowds

Urban Ale Trail participants stop in at Jobot Coffee & Diner for samples on Saturday. (Chelsea Shannon/DD)

A wider and more spread-out selection of businesses and bars led to shorter lines, but longer travel distances between stops during the third-annual Urban Ale Trail, which featured 29 bars and restaurants in the downtown and uptown area.

The Ale Trail locations were not as overwhelmed with huge crowds in comparison to previous years, according to Alison Sipes, an event manager with Downtown Phoenix Inc. She said this may have made participation appear lower, but there were still approximately 5,000 people that participated in this year’s Urban Ale Trail, about the same as 2015.

This year, DPI was able to decrease the size of crowds by designating three separate locations for giveaways — at District American Kitchen and Wine Bar, Bonus Round and Hob Nobs Cafe & Spirits. They also incorporated more bars in spread out locations. At the 2015 Ale Trail, there were huge crowds clustering the core downtown bars, Sipes said.

“It seems like there are a lot less people this year, but also the places seem to be more spread out,” said Carlos Robinson, who has participated in the event for the past two years.

First year participant Colton Ray felt the lines were on the longer side even as the event was coming closer to the 6 p.m. end time.

Some bar owners and workers saw no difference between last year and this year. Zia Peroni a staff member at Chambers, said she and her staff had similar experiences both years.

“People always come here and stay here because we have such a large space and we know what we are doing here,” Peroni said.

Nearly 30 downtown businesses participated in the Urban Ale Trail on Saturday. (Chelsea Shannon/DD)
Nearly 30 downtown businesses participated in the Urban Ale Trail on Saturday. (Chelsea Shannon/DD)

Staff at other stops on the trail saw a difference in the crowds. Julie Meeker, co-owner of Mother Bunch Brewing, recognized that her bar was not as busy as it was last year.

Sipes said the goal of the Urban Ale Trail is not only to introduce Phoenix residents to the bars downtown, but to demonstrate the walkability of Phoenix in the heat. All the locations are supposed to be within walking distance of the light rail.

Some attendees made systems for transportation. Lauren Alli has a trade-off system of who is the designated driver with her friend.

“He does the Ale Trail and I do the Urban Wine Walk,” said Alli.

Another attendee, Erica Wager made her second stop at Jobot Coffee and Diner after walking from Mother Bunch Brewery an hour into the event.

“We have to do short walks to get to shade as soon as possible,” said Wager.

The event, and the deals, drew people to try places they might not typically try. Each bar offered $2 or $3 samples of three 4-ounce beers.

“We will probably go to Hob Nobs next,” attendee Judy Follbaum said. “We ride our bikes by there all the time but haven’t gone there.”

Despite the heat and longer distances traveled patrons and employees enjoyed the event.

“People get to have fun, drink and get to see new places,” said Sam Johnson a bartender at the Duce. “It’s a good community kind of thing.”

Contact the reporter at chelsea.shannon@asu.edu.