Sea Pines Resort and the CC of Roswell are incorporating beer into their operations in totally different, but equally shrewd, ways.
Compared to wine, beer tends to be more casual and approachable. It attracts a different member demographic and necessitates a different stage when it’s being featured, both at the tap and beyond it.
“Beer is almost exclusively more popular at our casual events,” says Greg Volle, Executive Chef of the Country Club of Roswell (Ga.), who presented on this topic at the 10th annual Chef to Chef Conference in Seattle. “It’s big at our chili cookoff, brews-and-BBQ events, and at the pool.
“It has a different stigma,” he adds. “Sometimes members are embarrassed about their lack of wine knowledge, but no one seems embarrassed about their lack of beer knowledge.”
Craft beer is so popular at the CC of Roswell that the club’s tap system has grown from four to twelve, showcasing local and regional brews exclusively.
“Members really like to try fun and unique new beers, but they don’t necessarily want to only drink one or two kinds all the time” says Volle. “That’s what’s nice about having twelve taps—you can try a new beer and not have to shut down the favorites.”
The club, however, has had a difficult time getting members to buy in to any kind of upscale beer event or pairing dinner, he notes, further confirming beer’s position as a more casual option.
At Sea Pines Resort (Hilton Head Island, S.C.), local beer is also popular with guests, especially two microbrews made exclusively for the resort by River Dog Brewery.
“We have a good mix of domestic and imported options across our eleven outlets,” says Matthew Roher, Director of Food and Beverage. “But I have to be honest—the beers from River Dog Brewery are kind of taking over.”
One, called the Lighthouse Blonde, is a light and crisp ale made specifically for the resort that was rolled out last December. It’s on draft at all Sea Pines Resort restaurants and can be purchased in six-packs at Harbour Town Golf Links and Plantation Golf Club. The can features the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse.
The other brew, coming online later this summer, will be called Lighthouse Lager.
“We were fortunate to be able to find a brewery that would work with us on this initiative,” says Roher, who has been involved in the process from the start. “We worked closely with River Dog’s brewmaster to tweak what was a basic ale recipe. We turned up the hops and infused more aromatics until we got something we liked.”
The Lighthouse Lager followed the same process. “It’s a Belgian lager that has a really rich mouthfeel and is very accessible,” says Roher.
While having your own proprietary beer may not be something most small clubs can do, Roher is launching an initiative in the coming months that he thinks any club could copy, as long as they have a strong relationship with a local brewer.
“As an optional add-on for our wedding packages, a bride and groom can brew their own keg of beer to be served at their wedding,” says Roher. “We have a commitment from Service Brewery in Savannah to take on this project. They’re true craftsmen, and they’re excited about not only the opportunity, but potential exposure.”