Hotels Tap Local Breweries for Bespoke Suds

PHOTO: Fullsteam Brewerys Fearrington Summer English IPA

After a long day of sightseeing, many travelers retire to their hotels for an evening refreshment before heading back out on the town. But the regional exploration doesn't have to pause there. More and more properties are responding to their guests' desire for local flavor by serving proprietary beers made in collaboration with area breweries.

The Fearrington House Inn, a Relais-Chateaux property in Pittsboro, N.C., introduced their first collaboration with Durham-based brewery Fullsteam over the summer: an English IPA that used bronze fennel and lemon thyme grown in the Fearrington garden. Following the positive response to that creation, which has been sold out for weeks, a new autumn beer will be released to discerning sippers later this month with an outdoor dinner beneath the estate's pecan trees, an image that also decorates the craft beer's bottle labels.

"Fullsteam is super passionate about having beers express where they come from, much the same way that wines have terroir," said Maximilian Kast, Fearrington's wine director. "So every season we will make a new beer letting ourselves be guided by that philosophy."

The new autumn beer is a Crabapple Berliner Weiss, a sour ale using Chatham County apples and crabapples from the Fearrington grounds that have been cooked down into a cordial in the restaurant's kitchen, then added to the beer during the fermentation process.

"It's a tart, low-alcohol, refreshing beer," said Sean Lilly Wilson, owner of Fullsteam, who said he wanted to produce something "a little more special" than the ubiquitous pumpkin-flavored ales that so often appear during the fall.

"We had a shared vision seeing the importance that sense of place and regional identity has in food and beer," he added. Fearrington "has a long history of celebrating local foodways and that's what we like to support."

That spirit is echoed across the country at Almanac Beer, a craft brewery based out of the Bay Area that collaborated with The Fairmont San Francisco to create a Honey Saison using rooftop honey harvested from the hotel beehives.

"It's a Belgian farmhouse style, really rich and crisp ale with lots of lemony and peppery characteristics and a mild sweetness from the honey," said Damian Fagan, co-founder and CEO of Almanac. "But the honey flavors are less specifically from the sugars than the secondary characteristics like fennel, which is unique to this area. Honey from Napa would taste completely different and even have a different color."

Meanwhile in the City of Brotherly Love, The Four Seasons Philadelphia has partnered with Dock Street Brewing Co., the oldest microbrewery in the city, to create signature suds for the last two years. Premium pints such as the O.P Yum! (combining oats and pomegranate) and the Crackle and Squeeze (made with meyer lemons and cracked pink and black peppers) are only available inside of the hotel's Lounge.

Later this month, the hotel will release its seventh seasonal ale with Dock Street Brewing Co., dubbed 1983 Beer of Excellence, a Belgian strong ale that has been slowly fermenting with 100% Champagne yeast for two months.

"It's a really effervescent, bubbly, bubbly beer," said Marilyn Candeloro, VP of Operations at Dock Street Brewing Co. "In fact, certain guests will be greeted by a bottle when they arrive in their rooms. I think it's nice for them to see something specifically from Philadelphia that they might not have heard of otherwise."

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