Craft Brewery Buildouts

Stone Brewing Co. plans to bring its world bistro & gardens dining concept to each of its satellite brewery locations.
Stone Brewing Co. plans to bring its world bistro & gardens dining concept to each of its satellite brewery locations. Stone Brewing Co.

Breweries are taking their brands to new regions, often in collaboration with chefs and with a clearer focus on food pairings.

The craft beer industry is thriving, and with it the appreciation for pairing fine brews with fine foods is trending upward as well.

By mid-2014, production at U.S. craft breweries was up 18 percent from the previous year, according to the Brewers Association. In fact, double-digit growth has been typical in recent years. From culinary collaborations, to restaurant expansions, to new production facilities, craft breweries are seizing upon these synergies and newer restaurant-based initiatives are gaining steam.

A Learned Approach

One fresh movement in this direction is Brooklyn Brewery’s partnership with The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), which plans to open a craft brewery on its campus in Hyde Park, New York, by this summer. The new seven-barrel brewery will be part of the CIA’s degree curricula and will be staffed by students in the Advanced Wine, Beverage, and Hospitality concentration. Brooklyn’s brewmaster Garrett Oliver and other brewery staff will support CIA faculty in developing course materials, which will range from technical brewing considerations to the financial aspects of opening restaurants where making beer is a core component.

While Brooklyn Brewery has partnered with the CIA on numerous projects during the past two decades, the on-site brewery marks a major escalation in craft beer’s involvement within formal culinary education, in a similar fashion to the Beer & Food Course that has been introduced recently by the Brewers Association.

Other breweries are moving toward greater restaurant involvement as well. In October, Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan, announced that it would be expanding its Eccentric Café from counter ordering into a full-service restaurant, and expects to open the new space by June.

Jason Reicherts, Bell’s director of retail, notes that a major impetus for the change was feedback from visitors. “Right now it’s über-important—people expect [a full-service restaurant] when they come in,” Reicherts says. The additional 130 seats and expanded prep space will allow Bell’s more room to tap into current food trends.

In addition to sourcing non-GMO and organic foods, the Inspired Hospitality program at Bell’s will aim to significantly improve the compatibility of beer and food. Additionally, the brewery will hire staff who are fully capable of handling all aspects of food and beverage. “We’re looking at people who understand both food and beer, not just one or the other,” Reicherts notes. “We want them to recognize what a good pairing is, and what’s not a good pairing.”


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