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These Hotels Offer a New Amenity: The Beer Concierge

April 17, 2018

By Joshua Bernstein, April 17, 2018

Going on vacation voids every societal drinking norm. Pre-flight double IPAs at 8 a.m. are as perfectly acceptable as pounding bloodies aboard the plane until you’re flying high above the clouds. And that’s just the beginning. Fo some, the very point of voyaging is to explore a city’s brewing scene, drinking up the regional bounty by the pint.

You can certainly book an Airbnb and explore breweries and bars with your good friend Google Maps. Hotels, however, are making a compelling case for you to plop your head on their excessively high thread count pillowcase. They’re offering specialty beer packages, expert advice from on-call beer concierges and access to hard-to-get bottles, cans and drafts.

“You can sit down at the bar downstairs from your room and try Hill Farmstead, Lawson’s Finest Liquids and Heady Topper,” says Matt Canning, the operations director at Burlington’s Hotel Vermont. Sounds like our kind of vacation. From San Diego to Delaware, here are five of the best hotels for the beer-obsessed.

Hotel Teatro (Denver, Colorado)

While the Rockies may loom large and imposing, the Mile High city’s topography is mainly flat. That means biking is ideal for exploring the scores of breweries crowding the landscape. Hotel Teatro’s “Bike + Brew” package kicks off with cheese and charcuterie paired with a couple pints of local beers, coupled with brewery and bar selections curated by beer concierge Derek Buck. “It’s all about the conversation for me,” says Buck, who’s both a beer and hospitality lifer. “We start at the top and work our way down.” He’ll steer you to neighborhoods such as brewery-saturated RiNo and supply one of the hotel’s retro Schwinn bicycles. If you’re not feeling athletic, the hotel offers free nearby rides in its Lincoln Navigator. Or never leave the hotel. Its bar’s taps are filled with Denver’s latest brewing talents. “We’re starting to garner a reputation for finding the new little guy in town and giving them a line,” says Buck, who digs Platt Park Brewing. P.S. Come morning, greasily revive any flagging fortunes with the $40 breakfast credit included in the package.

The barrier to entry is a little easier when you’re staying with us.”

Ace Hotel & Swim Club (Palm Springs, California)

You could be drinking room-temperature domestic lager and still have a bang-up time at the desert resort, where palm trees surround the pool and the party doesn’t stop until you do. But you don’t have to. Ace ups the ante with a stout beer program at its bar, the Amigo Room, where the 21 taps regularly feature its collaborations with regional breweries such as a Sorachi Ace–hopped pale ale with Coachella Valley Brewing and Aces Session IPA, brewed alongside Saint Archer. Future partners include Modern Times, Thorn Brewery and Karl Strauss. Ace’s food and beverage director Paul Patino oversees the collaborations, which champion local ingredients and double as education by the pint. “Collaborations shows people you do not need to work at a brewery in order to brew beer,” he explains, adding that it’s great to offer guests an exclusive beer. The hotel is most hopped-up during its annual craft beer weekend, which takes place in the late summer or early fall. It’s an intimate event where you can converse with brewers and take a deep dive into California beer, plus the pool. “Our event makes the beer and the brewers the main event,” Patino says.

Hotel Vermont (Burlington, Vermont)

Vermont has become one of modern brewing’s epicenters, a place where IPA pilgrims flock to genuflect before the Alchemist’s Heady Topper. There’s no better place to relax after a lupulin overload than Hotel Vermont. The 125-room independent inn opened in 2013 with an intense focus on its namesake state’s food and beverage offerings and quickly attracting a beer-obsessed clientele. “We had more people walking through our doors than we anticipated for beer tourism,” says beer concierge and operations manager Matt Canning. Book a beer-tour package and you’ll be treated to a private 30-minute consult with Canning, who will craft a custom itinerary, while you crush a flight of Vermont beers, and even drop insider knowledge on Heady’s delivery schedule. “Five years later, that’s still one of the main questions we get,” he says. Super-fans should plan a summertime visit, when Hotel Vermont runs its premiere two-night package. The monthly offerings includes a five-course paired beer dinner—dry-hopped vinaigrette—and a trek to Hill Farmstead where guests can sip on rare vintage and large-format bottles. “The barrier to entry is a little easier when you’re staying with us,” Canning says.

Courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Kimpton Hotel Palomar San Diego (San Diego, California)

A lifetime of beer drinking is barely enough to prepare livers for a lost weekend in San Diego, where it’s always sunny with a chance of IPA. With nearly 200 breweries, brewpubs and satellite taprooms, deciding how to allot your precious sobriety can be a challenge, which is where Palomar beer concierge Astrid Naujokaitis rides in to the rescue. “I’ve been fortunate to watch the scene grow and evolve,” says the San Diego native. The role started around two years ago, and in it she draws on her deep well of personal experience to write guests beer-focused welcome letters and direct them to both the city’s hottest breweries and locals’ favorite haunts. “I grew up in North Park and I love sending guests to my little community to go on some brewery pub crawls,” says Naujokaitis, who name-checks Thorn Street, Modern Times and Belching Beaver as must-stops. “I want them to have a local San Diego experience while they’re having craft beer.” Also of note: The hotel’s restaurant also offers a selection of up-and-coming Mexican craft breweries.

21c Museum Hotel (Cincinnati, Ohio)

The Ohio River–hugging city was one of pre-Prohibition America’s grand brewing cities, with so many German immigrants operating the lager-pumping breweries that a neighborhood became known as Over-the-Rhine. Today, Cincinnati’s beer renaissance—spearheaded by breweries such as Rhinegeist and Urban Artifact—is worth sipping firsthand, using the 156-room 21c as a springboard to sample the city’s carbonated riches. Upon check-in at the boutique hotel, which contains a contemporary art museum, the Local Brews package gives guests two pints of Taft’s Ale House beers, all-day streetcar passes, a map of downtown breweries and a $30 breakfast voucher for the inevitable morning after. “I offer concierge services like where and when to find Cincinnati’s best beer,” says Chris Brown, the beverage manager at the hotel’s Metropole restaurant. “I work with the chef to choose craft beer pairings for select Fork & Bottle dinners and, on some occasions, I can be persuaded to share our secret stash.”

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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