Beer Buzz: Craft Beer Is Inn

Hotels entice guests with beer-focused packages.

Galveston Island Brewing Co. has partnered with local hotel The Tremont House to offer a “Craft Beer 101 Weekend” package, which features a tour, educational session and beer pairing dinner.
Galveston Island Brewing Co. has partnered with local hotel The Tremont House to offer a “Craft Beer 101 Weekend” package, which features a tour, educational session and beer pairing dinner.

With craft beer being all the rage, both chain and boutique hotel operators are enhancing their beer programs by targeting fans of locally made brews. The move is attracting craft beer aficionados to their properties, and it’s also distinguishing their venues from competing hotels.

Starwood Hotels’ 200-unit Four Points by Sheraton concept has been a longtime supporter of the craft beer movement, according to Jeremy Cooper, senior director of global guest initiatives and specialty select brands. Meanwhile, at the independently owned Jupiter Hotel in Portland, Oregon, craft beer programming is an ongoing focus. “A big part of our guest demographics are beer lovers,” says marketing director Shannon Pratuch.

As the craft beer ranks grow, hotel operators are partnering with nearby breweries to serve local offerings. Four Points features a “Best Brews” program, which includes at least one locally made beer at every North American unit, supported with branded items like glassware and coasters. Yazoo Brewing Co. products are featured at Four Points’ Nashville, Tennessee–area locations, and Abita Brewing Co. beers are on tap at the Four Points site in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Prices range from $4 to $7 a draft pour.

The Tremont House, a Wyndham Grand hotel in Galveston, Texas, is partnering with Galveston Island Brewing Co. for its first ever “Craft Beer 101 Weekend” this month. As part of the promotion, which starts at $299 a night for a double room, guests can attend an educational session on craft beer, take a tour of the brewery and sit down for a four-course dinner paired with Galveston Island brews. “We wanted to offer activities that would appeal to anyone interested in craft beer, whether they are novices or seasoned experts,” says Steve Cunningham, general manager of the 119-room hotel. Craft brews at The Tremont House are priced between $4.50 and $6 for drafts and bottles.

The JW Marriott Chicago began partnering with Lagunitas Brewing Co. last summer, when the Petaluma, California–based brewery opened a second facility in the Windy City. “The Beercation Package” includes overnight accommodations, an in-room selection of Lagunitas brews and a tour of the Douglas Park brewery, beginning at $284 a night. “It’s been great to see new and returning guests experience the craft beer movement here,” says executive chef Michael Reich. “Both guests and locals appreciate that the package immerses them in our rich beer culture and takes care of all the planning details.” The hotel’s lounge offers craft brews on tap for $6.

Craft brewers wholeheartedly support enhanced interest in their products from hotels. “Tourists and visitors want local,” says Brooklyn Brewery president Robin Ottaway, noting that many hotels have hired beer experts to develop their menus and educate guests. Some hotel operators promote special packages and involvement with local craft beer events. This spring, the Jupiter Hotel launched the “PDX Brews and Booze Experience” (starting at $184), which includes overnight accommodations, a growler, a bucket of four beers from Base Camp Brewing Co. and a passport to tastings at seven Portland craft distilleries. Four Points, meanwhile, participated in the Harbor Island International Beer Festival in Mamaroneck, New York, in October, offering a festival package that included a two-night stay and VIP tickets to the event.

Even the Kimpton hotel network, known for its complimentary wine hours, is giving a nod to craft beer. For the past three years, Kimpton’s Hotel Solamar in San Diego has offered a daily craft beer social hour highlighting local brews. Christian Graves, chef at the property’s adjacent JSix restaurant and a homebrewer, often hosts the tastings, which have featured beers from Stone Brewing Co., AleSmith Brewing Co. and The Lost Abbey. Graves says it’s just a matter of time before other Kimpton hotels follow suit and present their own complimentary beer samplings.

Ottaway advises hotels that are looking to woo craft beer lovers to hire someone knowledgeable who can curate a good beer list. “Craft beer isn’t complicated,” he says. “Consumers want variety, and they want local.”