Craft Breweries Looking Beyond the Beer
By Will McGough

The quest for craft beer differentiation can also make for strange bedfellows. Remember the old mantra “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here?” Well, forget about it!

In the last few years, craft breweries have begun encouraging their guests, in one way or another, to spend the night. This may not be an entirely new concept — pubs in Europe have been doing it for centuries — but recently we’ve seen a push from American brewers in the lodging department. The hope is to further immerse beer drinkers with their brand while simultaneously creating an alternative revenue stream.

This spring Hamish Marshall, co-owner of SLO Brew in the Central Coast of California, will open five luxury lofts above his brewery’s restaurant in downtown San Luis Obispo. He said the idea to create the short-term rental space actually came after the fact, when his brewpub project became more expensive than he thought.

“When we started making plans to retrofit an old building into a restaurant and music venue, it became so cost-prohibitive that we had to step back and say, ‘What are we going to do? How are we going to differentiate ourselves and stay profitable?’” Marshall said. “The lofts are giving us the ability to not only have another revenue stream, but to engulf those who stay there in all the components of our brand, from the beer to the food and music events.”

Looking across the country, we see that SLO Brew is not alone in pairing beer with bedding. It follows in the footsteps of others, including both Dogfish Head, which launched the Dogfish Inn in 2014, and Oskar Blues, which plays host at its REEB Ranch mountain cabins in Brevard, N.C.

The success of these “beer-and-breakfast” ventures just goes to show that whether you’re a stalwart brewing institution trying to reinvent itself or an upstart rebel brewer trying to carve out a niche of your own, it never hurts to consider some more eccentric options.

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