The city joins a tiny club of municipalities in South Florida that have such an amenity. North Miami Beach made one in 2018 to entice new or established brewers via incentives even though it has no breweries yet.
Beer tourism has become a draw for cities. A survey commissioned by the Brewers Association in 2016 found that individuals went to 2.1 breweries on average in the past 12 months while visiting a city for a beer event. Travelocity even created a "beer tourism index" to show where "beercations" (vacations for the sole purpose of visiting breweries) are most popular, but South Florida doesn't make the list.
Such districts tend to give an economic boost to their host cities, according to David Scott, Boynton Beach's director for economic development and strategy. But he adds that areas must already have the "organic" appeal before a city designates such a district.
The brewing companies Copperpoint, NOBO, and Due South existed before the creation of the district. Boynton Beach's brewery district doesn't have geographic boundaries but is located in the industrial area of the city just west of I-95 or where breweries are normally permitted. There's also Non-Prophet Brewing Company, which brews kombucha.
Scott uses Miami's arts neighborhood of Wynwood, home to at least four breweries and another the way, as an example of that kind of magnetism. With development experience in Atlanta and Baltimore, Scott immediately recognized the potential for his city.
"When we approach planning from that perspective, we look to create those destinations, or what I call experience centers," Scott says. "Here we have an experience with a brewery district. We like to say that we’re progressive."
The city lends a hand with encouraging breweries to grow by offering money known as community development block grants to help with construction. Only one brewery, Copperpoint Brewing Company, took advantage of such a grant, according to Boynton Beach special projects coordinator John Durgan.
These funds are separate from the city's interior buildout and rent reimbursement grants, Durgan says, adding they're not just for breweries. Other South Florida cities, such as Fort Lauderdale and North Miami, have awarded grant money to breweries.
Copperpoint's owner and head brewer, Matt Cox, says brewery and city officials sat through several roundtable meetings to create the district — which the city never really advertised.
Encompassing breweries in a special district and all within a relatively walkable distance from one other increases visibility from a tourist standpoint, Cox says. Visibility, and getting to the district without driving, is made even easier with a Tri-Rail station nearby. The existence of a brewery district could also be an ideal place for beer crawls. Cox calls it a "win" for everyone.
"You could drive down the road and not know we're even here," Cox says. "It kind of works well in numbers and creates a destination-type thing."