TRAVERSE CITY — Summertime in Northern Michigan means spending as much time along the water as possible. And even with rain looming overhead, hundreds took to the water on Saturday for a unique paddling adventure.

Paddle for Pints, now in its second year, is a TC Ale Trail event and combines some of Traverse City’s best features: fresh water, craft brews and delicious food. Similar to a pub crawl, this pub paddle takes attendees to six downtown breweries all while paddling down the Boardman River.

Starting at the Filling Station, paddlers launch across Boardman Lake to get to Right Brain Brewery. A paddle back across the lake winds into the river, which paddlers take to the Union Street portage point. The next stops include Brewery Ferment and Rare Bird Brewpub. After hopping back into kayaks, participants complete the paddle at Clinch Park, with stops at North Peak and Workshop Brewing.

The concept was successful in its first year and is in even higher demand this year. This year started with eight events, each with three waves. Each of these eight events sold out before summer really even started. In an effort to stay on top of demand, TC Ale Trail co-founder Troy Daily added Paddle for Pints 2.0, which added eleven paddle dates. The 2.0 events are smaller, with just one wave and four breweries.

Expanding at such a great capacity takes a tremendouseffort to keep things running smoothly. Building from last year, Daily and his team were able to coordinate with breweries and other local officials to ensure a positive experience for attendees.

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“The success this year is in the people and my team. Eighteen paid employees help out for each of the big events which makes things run a lot more smooth,” said Daily.

And things did run smooth and efficiently. The Paddle for Pints team ensured everyone arrived safely at each stop, helped portage kayaks, and blew whistles to keep everyone moving on time. They were even on hand to keep supervise kayaks at the end. This led to an enjoyable experience for all, and it is what has groups sharing their experiences and/or planning trips with friends and family.

“For each event, at least 85% of the people have been from out of town,” said Daily.

In fact, there have been some events where nearly 97% of the attendees were not from Traverse City. Groups from Chicago, Indiana and Ohio were present at Saturday’s event and many had plans to explore the surrounding area.

“The power of social media is why it is so popular this year and will continue to be,” stated Daily.

As the event becomes more popular, the local economy continues to benefit. From food specials at the breweries to having time at the end to further explore downtown, attendees were able to experience more than just unique brews. Visiting the six breweries through a unique experience gives those from the area and from outside the area a taste of what downtown can offer.

While all of this year’s events are sold out, be sure to stay tuned to PaddleforPints.com for more information about next year’s offerings.

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery