Wednesday, January 24, 2007
A Visit to the Beer Hotel: Four Points by Sheraton, Norwalk, Conn.
When I first heard the news of Starwood Hotels' plan to launch the Best Brews program at its Four Points by Sheraton properties it was during the Great American Beer Festival in Denver this past September. During a business trip this week I had my first chance to stay at one of the company's hotels and see how they are delivering on the promise to become "The Beer Hotel."
So far so good.
The small bar at the Four Points in Norwalk, Conn., had four draughts: Paulaner Pilsner, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Farmington River Hop River IPA and Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter. The nine domestic bottled brews ranged from Bud Light to Smuttynose IPA. The 11 bottled imports included Chimay Red, Duvel, Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale and Pilsner Urquell. That's a solid range for a hotel bar no matter where you are traveling.
Four Points launched a hunt for a Chief Beer Officer as part of the promotional effort behind expanding its beer selection. The result was more than 7,000 applications for the non-paying position and publicity in places like the Wall Street Journal. They plan to allow the public to vote on the finalists in the coming months.
The Best Brews program is clearly a marketing gimmick by Four Points, but one that deserves support from beer lovers. It's common to read and hear the complaints of beer fans when they encounter uninspired selections that only range from light beer to national domestic lagers. This is a case of a major hotel chain rolling out the red carpet for beer drinkers. Based on the activity at the bar I saw last night while enjoying my first ever Farmington River brew, the program has a real chance to be successful -- as long as the beer community shows its appreciation.