The South of the River Brewery Trail has returned to the southwest metro this year.

The brewery trail involves purchasing a $10 passport booklet that features a variety of breweries throughout the southwest metro region. Upon visiting one of these breweries, participants get their booklet stamped and enjoy a discounted deal of “buy one, get one” at the location.

When the booklet is completely filled with stamps from all the breweries, participants can turn it in at the last brewery they visit and be entered into the brewery’s prize giveaways at the end of the year.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to create a collaborative effort amongst the breweries in the region, mostly Scott County,” Shakopee Chamber President Tim Zunker said.

“We want to create things that help move people throughout a community and give them options to go and take a look at the other venues, the other breweries, the other communities that we have in Scott County and in the region,” he added.

Nine breweries are participating this year, mostly scattered throughout Scott County: Shakopee Brewhall in Shakopee, Mana Brewing in Shakopee, Loons Landing Brewery in Savage, Giesenbräu Bier Co. in New Prague, Boathouse Brothers Brewing Co. in Prior Lake, Montgomery Brewing in Montgomery, Oldenburg Brewing in Belle Plaine, Ineffable Brewing in Burnsville and Roets Jordan Brewery in Jordan.

“I just have always had a strong opinion to have a solid relationship with our neighboring breweries and using this as a means of collaboration, excuses to get to see each other more often, listen to each other … I think it’s all in all for the better,” Shakopee Brewhall CEO Ryan Lindquist said.

This includes having regular “taproom meet-ups” scheduled throughout the year.

This is the second year of the brewery trail, and participation numbers are already set to increase from last year’s, Zunker said.

The brewery trail program distributed 1,000 booklets last year, with those running out fairly quickly. This year, the program has doubled these numbers.

An initial print of 1,000 booklets has been distributed, with 100 given to each brewery to hand out as well as 100 kept with Visit Shakopee, part of the Shakopee Chamber and Visitors Bureau. A second round of 1,000 booklets has been printed and will be distributed this year, as well.

Participating breweries have also been able to use this brewery trail as an opportunity to reach more people in the county.

“We’re finding that there’s people coming to the taproom that didn’t even know that we existed,” Loons Landing Brewery CEO and owner Amy Johnson said. “They only now know about us because of the brewery trail book that we’re in.”

Toward the end of the year, each brewery will have prize giveaways set up for those who completed the passport booklets. Lindquist said these may include giving away merchandise and swag like shirts and hats as well as gift cards.

Not even a month into this year’s program, some breweries have already sold out of their 100 passports and will sell more when the second print of 1,000 booklets is distributed.

“We’ve already sold out of our first run of the 100 books, and we’ve had quite a few of them get stamped through in the past couple of weeks,” said Emmett Swartwout, head brewer and one of the owners at Boathouse Brothers Brewing Co. “2023 is shaping up well … and it’s been a great turnaround already.”

“For people from around this area, once they realize we’re not that far away, they’re more likely to come down to New Prague and try our brewery out again,” Giesenbräu Bier Co. owner and brewer Erin Hutton added. “We like having people moving around, and this book really gets people to do that.”