Craft beers enjoy US airport boom

27 August, 2008
Page 14 
HMS Host, the largest airport food and beverage operator in the US, has reported strong sales of imported and craft beers.

"We see people ordering higher-end beer," said HMS Host vice-president concept development, Stan Novack. "They are bypassing premium brands such as Budweiser, Miller and Coors to order craft beers such as Sam Adams and Gordon Biersch.

"Imported brands such as Heineken and Corona are doing well too . These days it seems having a discerning taste for beer is as important as having a discerning taste for wine in the US."

Sales of premium light beers are up too. Best sellers in this segment include Heineken Premium Light, Amstel Light and Michelob Ultra.

In recent years HMS Host has started to work with local breweries to operate region-specific airport bars. "In Oregon we have worked with Shipyard Brewing, while in California, we have worked with Karl Strauss, Redondo Beach Brewery, Manhattan Beach Brewery and Pyramid Ales," said Novack. "Gordon Biersch and Sam Adams are available at our [airport] bars throughout the US and, of course, we're still working with national distributors like Budweiser."

HMS Host is also doing more to promote beer as an accompaniment to food. "We have created specific tasting promotions, where we have paired certain beers with certain foods," he added. "For instance, we matched Sam Adams beer with Crab Louis salads and crab cakes."

Part of Italian travel catering giant Autogrill, HMS Host operates outlets at 19 of the US's 20 busiest airports.