The Growing Popularity of the Craft Beverage Movement
By Jonathan Sullivan Senior Manager of Operations, Beverage & Food, The Vinoy Renaissance Resort | September 14, 2014
What began as a trend in lager cities, the growing popularity of the craft beverage movement is taking the food and beverage industry by storm, increasing by 18 percent from 2012 to 2013. As defined by the Brewers Association, an American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional; has an annual production of six million barrels or less, no more than 25 percent of the craft brewery is owned or operated by an alcoholic beverage industry member that is not a craft brewer and must brew beers using traditional ingredients, such as malt barley. Though the craft brewer sector is up against giants like Anheuser-Busch, and only accounts for about 10 percent of the nation's total beer sales, the continued popularity of specialty beer is paving a way for a new crop of breweries, opening at an average of 1.2 per day.
As the food and beverage industry prepares for the height of the craft movement, foodies will begin to experience beverage taking center stage throughout the hospitality and restaurant industry. In hospitality, more specifically the food and beverage industry as a whole has begun assessing how to capture the substantial craft market, The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort and Golf Club has already started preparing for this change, shifting gears to focus on beverage over food, "B&F." The resort has implemented several innovative initiatives to curate the craft trend, keeping up with real time and heightening the guest experience by partnering with local microbreweries, launching table-top sommeliers and executing an interactive "Behind the Bar" experience for resort guests and locals.
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With the trend sweeping across the country, Florida has been slow to jump on the bandwagon of craft beer, only in recent years has this trend started to explode in the sunshine state. That being said, St. Petersburg is quickly becoming a top beer destination as several microbreweries have begun to pop up.
With indigenous items serving as critical matters to the long-term success of a hotel and brand, The Vinoy has recognized the need to capitalize on the newest business openings and recently partnered with four local microbreweries located within a mile of the resort, Three Daughters Brewing, St. Pete Brewing Company, Green Bench Brewing Co. and Cycle Brewing. With more than 413 breweries opening nation-wide just last year and expecting to triple in volume by 2017, we will begin to see more hotels and restaurants partnering with local breweries.
The partnership philosophy encourages guests to explore the destination and experience the unique local treasures, including neighborhood breweries. Through the set-up of The Vinoy's Navigator program, visitors are able to take tours of all four partnered breweries, tasting all the flavors of St. Petersburg. Aside from the full-flavored bodies, this is perhaps the one of the strongest feature of craft breweries, the ability to engage and interact with the consumers through an educational brewery tour – especially in a world where the millennial generation is always looking for a chance to share experiences through social media and expand their knowledge of the latest beverage trend.