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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.

TRAVERSE CITY — The unofficial start to summer usually begins with a few close friends, great food, favorite brews and a bonfire. With its own little twist on this tradition, The Little Fleet’s Summer Launch Party, held on Sunday, surely made it feel like summer had arrived.

Little Fleet owner Gary Jonas partnered with Troy Daily, of Create TC, to fill the outdoor space with food trucks, live music and beer and margarita stations. Daily has led many other local projects, including the TC Ale Trail, TC Cycle Pub and Paddle For Pints.

With a great space and an enthusiasm for local beer and food markets, Jonas and Daily set out to create an amazing start to summer.

“What better way to do it than with music, great summer beer, a margarita bar, food trucks and lots of people?” said Daily.

In the last two years, Little Fleet has become a go-to spot for many locals and tourists. With its parking lot full of food trucks, and its casual bar and outdoor seating, Little Fleet served as the perfect venue to usher in the vibes of summer.

“I am proud of the fact that The Little Fleet paved the way for the food truck scene and made it easy for vendors to vend.  Most of all, I’m proud of the environment we’ve created at The Little Fleet.  Casual, laid back, fun.  It’s a place everyone can connect to,” said Jonas.

The Summer Launch Party exemplified this, as the expanded outdoor space filled with people of all ages, families, Bayshore Marathon runners and even a couple of dogs. Eight food trucks were on site, providing attendees with plenty of choices. Trucks included local favorites Roaming Harvest and Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, along with newcomers Wings ‘n Things and Daily Blend.

Little Fleet is not only known for its great selection of food, but also its dedication to local beer and great cocktails. Little Fleet’s extended liquor license enabled them to sell beer and margaritas outdoors alongside the food trucks. The beer station featured brews from Beggar’s Brewery, Beard’s Brewery, and Right Brain Brewing. The margarita bar featured freshly squeezed lime and grapefruit margaritas.

Add some great live music from Slinky & The Stairs, Hollywood Makeout and Fly Paper, and you had the casual, laid back and fun atmosphere Little Fleet is known for.

Jonas hopes to create this atmosphere throughout the summer. In a series of “Lot 448” events, Little Fleet will extend its reach into the parking lot each month for a different themed party. These events include: Little Fleet’s 2-year Anniversary Party in June, a Hot Art Party in July, a Pop-Up Arcade in August and Oktoberfest in September.

“We just want to continue to have fun doing what we do,” said Jonas.

TRAVERSE CITY — Troy Daily, co-captain of the TC Cycle Pub and co-founder of the TC Ale Trail has found another way to unite the craft breweries of the Traverse City area.

“No one in the area is doing chauffeured brewery tours that have unique experiences,” said Daily. “I wanted to showcase the breweries in a fun and educational way, and different than if you were going to visit the brewery on your own.”

This new experience would happen aboard the Brew Bus. The concept of the Brew Bus was inspired by efforts like the Chicago Brew Bus and will allow beer enthusiasts to experience tours similar to the TC Cycle Pub all year long.

In order to make the Brew Bus a unique and exciting experience, Daily started an Indiegogo campaign. The goal is to raise $15,000 by Christmas Eve in order to update seating, flooring, lighting and the stereo system. The money will also help add graphics and branding to the bus.

Indiegogo provides crowd-sourced funding, which requires donations from various people to fully fund the project. There are perks to contributing to the project. A $25 donation will get you some Brew Bus swag, $50 will get your name on the ceiling of the bus and a $100 donation will get you a seat on a four hour tour.

The larger the donation, the greater the perks. If you are willing to invest $5,000 in the project, and thereby the community, you will earn a private dinner party at the brewery of your choice for up to nine of your friends and two four-hour brewery tours per year for life.

The Brew Bus has the potential to be a great addition to the Traverse City craft beer community. Daily hopes to create something new that doesn’t compete with other area transportation companies.

“If I reach my Indiegogo goal of $15,000 there will be a couple tours a week that will showcase three to four breweries in the area on each tour,” Daily explained. “They would include brewhouse tours, one-on-one questionnaires with owners and brewers and even some cicerone-led tours.”

Many local breweries, including The Workshop Brewery and Brewery Ferment, are already supporting the Brew Bus and will be a part of these exclusive tours. Tours could start as early as February, if funding is successful.

“If funding doesn’t happen a lot of the upgrades and the graphics won’t happen right away. I will still offer tours but the experience just won’t be as top notch as I would like it to be,” stated Daily.

You can stay up to date on the project’s progress and future tour information by following Brew Bus on Facebook.