Tap the app, and experience the burgeoning craft beer scene centered in Howard County, Md. Howard County Tourism & Promotion (HCTP) announced in June of this year its partnership with locally-owned and operated technology firm TownSprout in the development of its new HowardOnTap craft beer trail app.

The county, nationally recognized for its outstanding quality of life in Money, Forbes and U.S. News & World Report magazines, can now boast a state-of-the-art app for craft beer enthusiast visitors and residents alike. Bill and Kristin Vucina, co-owners of TownSprout, commented on the development of the app, saying, “Working with Howard County Tourism & Promotion has been an unbelievable experience and opportunity. We are so thrilled to be a part of their first mobile app designed to promote Howard County’s unique beer attractions.”

Maryland-based firm Octavo Designs created the graphics for the app.

App Features

The HowardOnTap app is free to download on the iPhone and has all the necessary information on area breweries, brew pubs, ale houses and more. Those who visit all the “Trail Stops” are awarded with an official HowardOnTap souvenir glass by HCTP and are eligible to win gift certificates and prizes from participating locations.

The app tracks the user’s progress and lets the person know when s/he’s completed the trail. Once completed, the user can travel the trail again for another souvenir.

Integration with Facebook and Twitter makes sharing the journey easy and fun. The On Tap live news feed provides information on what’s new at the various attractions, and an Events calendar keeps users updated on special events. Booking hotel rooms, rides with Uber or taxis, and even tours are all easily done using the Rooms, Rides and Tours features. The trail can be traveled over time or all at once with participating tour and travel partners.

Stops on the Trail

According to Brewers Association (BA), a national organization that promotes independent brewers, craft beer is outperforming domestic and imported beer sales in growth. BA states that there are 51 craft breweries in Maryland, with another 18 or so in the planning stages. Three of those new breweries are hoping to open in Howard County, to give the county a total of seven breweries. As of now there are four breweries, all of which are featured on HowardOnTap.

The Trail also includes brewery outlet restaurants that carry their own locally-produced beer, and breweries located in nearby Baltimore and Frederick counties. As of now there are eight Trail Stops and that number is expected to grow.

“It’s no surprise Howard County Tourism & Promotion is the first to launch such an app to support the local craft beer industry,” said Kevin Atticks, executive director of Brewer’s Association of Maryland. “Craft brewers have a powerful and positive influence on the economic and agricultural ecosystem of a community, and this is becoming evident in Howard County. This app fosters and supports local craft beer.”

HCTP Notes

“For Tourism, introducing HowardOnTap is an exciting next step in the digital marketing of our destination to tech-savvy 21st-century travelers who rely on their ‘iEverythings,’” said Rachelina Bonacci, CEO of Howard County Tourism & Promotion. “While Tourism will keep producing traditional, award-winning brochures and Visitor + Resident travel magazines, as well as operating our Welcome Centers, the HowardOnTap app lets our destination be downloaded from anywhere on the planet from the palm of a hand. That’s really powerful.”

She added, “Kudos to Amanda Hof, who pitched the HowardOnTap app concept to the Tourism Team just a year ago. For this project to go from Amanda’s ‘wish list’ to her ‘to do list’ to people’s phones is fabulous. We invite the world to ‘tap the app.’”

Independent craft breweries like the ones in and around Howard County are working hard to meet a growing demand for locally produced, high quality, full-bodied beer. HowardOnTap is designed to promote the craft beer attractions and give them a competitive edge. The point of the new app is to make it easy and fun to find and experience area craft beer attractions.

HCTP and its partners want you to drink responsibly, so HowardOnTap features listings for area taxi cab companies and UBER, which is offering new UBER subscribers $20 off their first HowardOnTap ride. Download UBER at get.uber.com/go/HOCO and use the code HOCO to take advantage of this offer.

To date, nearly 700 users have downloaded the HowardOnTap app. It has been opened more than 5,000 times by users, and seven users thus far have completed the trail and received prizes at the Howard County Welcome Center. There have been 222 unique check-ins at HowardOnTap trail stops, with overwhelmingly positive feedback from the users and local breweries.

Amanda Hof is partnership and promotions manager with HCTP. She can be reached at 410-313-1904.