The craft-beer industry is immune to the bad economy and restaurants that cater to the craft-brew consumer are riding a foamy wave of success. The most recent research (released Jan. 23) by Mintel on the craft beer market in the US shows that sales of craft beer nearly doubled between 2007 and 2012—increasing from $5.7 billion in 2007 to $12 billion in 2012. “The growth rates seen by craft beer are impressive, especially during a period when domestic and imported beers have shown a flat to declining performance,” says Jennifer Zegler, beverage analyst at Mintel. The rise of craft beer in the US is supported by increasing consumer demand, specifically from beer drinkers 25-34 year old (35%).
At Vail Cascade Resort in Vail, this news is particularly satisfying. The restaurant, Atwater on Gore Creek, and the Fireside Bar have embraced the craft beer movement in a big way with beer flights, beer and food pairing and craft-beer education. “We’ve tried to find ways to make craft beer accessible, not scary,” says Laura Lodge, who manages the craft beer program. On Wednesday nights, the Fireside Bar at Vail Cascade has free craft-beer tastings with the brewmaster. Guests meet the face behind the beer. “We are about providing accessibility to a variety of people and products,” she says.
Atwater also offers beer flights with small plates and five-beer flights on Friday nights for $7. “This way people don’t have to commit to a full glass and can explore what they like,” she says. For guests who are fully committed, Atwater offers beer suggestions on the menu, much like wine pairing.
Lodge also plans brewmaster weekends where guests can learn from the brewmasters and better understand how to pair the beer with food. In the coming months, Lodge is planning weekends with Tommy Knocker (Feb. 8-9), Grand Teton (Mar. 15-16) and Boulder Beer (April 5-6).
Mintel says it is this type of education that makes people converts. “Despite the variety of beer releases created by craft breweries, craft beers are not yet everyday beer choices for most drinkers due to a lack of understanding about their taste profiles. To continue growing, craft beer must be its own best advocate and expand appeal beyond Millennials who are most likely to consume craft beer.
An additional barrier is lack of knowledge. Craft brewers need to focus on education through tastings and classes that inform consumers about the differentiation in flavor between craft beer and other alcoholic drinks,” Jennifer Zegler explains.
For more on Vail Cascade’s craft-beer specials:
1300 Westhaven Drive
Vail, Colorado 81657
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