Craft beer experience goes beyond drinks at DogHouse
Craft beer experience goes beyond drinks at DogHouse
23 JANUARY 2019 1:23 PM

U.K.-based BrewDog’s DogHouse Hotel and Brewery in Canal Winchester, Ohio, lets guests drink, smell and shower with beer.

CANAL WINCHESTER, OHIO—In late August 2018, this city in central Ohio became the United States headquarters of United Kingdom-based craft beer brewer BrewDog and home to the company’s first craft beer hotel, the DogHouse Hotel and Brewery.

The 32-room hotel and brewery was built for craft beer lovers by craft beer lovers, and it was also funded by them. Jonathan Quick, GM at the hotel, said DogHouse was completely funded through crowdfunding. This is how all BrewDog projects are funded, he said, which makes it so that they “don’t have to sell a portion of (the) company out to big conglomerates.”

Quick grew up in the hospitality business and has worked for companies such as Ritz-Carlton and Disney. He is also a craft beer lover and an “avid home brewer,” he said, adding that “beer geek” is “kind of a mild term for how obsessive” he is.

He has always been a supporter of BrewDog, so landing the job as GM of DogHouse was great, he said.

Before joining BrewDog as GM of DogHouse, Quick said he saw an opening for a completely different position at the company. He spoke with the founders of BrewDog, and they told Quick they didn’t realize they needed someone with the hospitality and food-and-beverage background Quick has until they spoke with him, “which is probably one of the (oddest) conversations to have,” he said.

“I've always wanted to be a part of a company like this that cared more about the craft of beer, the education of beer and getting people passionate about beer than necessarily making money,” Quick said.

About the hotel
BrewDog’s U.S. brewery is located inside of the DogHouse, which Quick said gives guests a “really intensive, immersive experience of living inside of a brewery.” There are a lot of great craft beer hotels, he said, but none that are quite like the DogHouse.

What differentiates DogHouse is guests can “roll up a garage door from inside your room and you’re inside the brewery; you’re walking to and from the room, almost able to touch the barrels; ... and you’re smelling (the beer),” he said.

This creates a unique and fun experience, he added, as guests could “very easily just shout out at one of the brewers asking what they’re doing.” DogHouse wanted to remove the barriers, physically in every way possible, he said.

“With the exception of the first floor, which is glassed in, the second and third floor (are) actually open air. It’s just a railing that separates us from the brewery itself,” he said.

Each room features a growler dispenser that “is counter-pressurized under CO2,” Quick said. The dispenser pours out four pints at a time, which is a lot. If guests want to drink more after that, they can go down to the bar, he said.

One of the coolest guestroom amenities at the DogHouse, he said, are the mini fridges in each room, one of which is located in the bathroom.

“It’s within arm’s reach of your shower,” he said. “You can enjoy a cold beer in the shower. If you’re not privy to that particular ritual, I suggest you do it. It’s fantastic, preferably on a day off. It’s tough to do in the morning, but guests seem to try a lot.”

The other minibar in the room is “the most epic in-room minibar we have ever seen,” according to Quick. It features curated beer selections from around the world that were picked by James Watt and Martin Dickie, BrewDog’s cofounders. They are beers that can’t be found at “even the most specialized beer shops here in central Ohio,” Quick said.

“You have three venues for beer just inside your room alone, (you’re) surrounded by a beer hotel with its own bar in the lobby, and then there’s our (tap room) within 50 feet of the front door of the hotel. You’re (going) have to try really, really hard not to have a beer while you’re here with us,” he said.

The craft beer experience doesn’t stop with drinks at the DogHouse—it extends to soap. Quick said guestroom soap at the hotel smells “just like one of our headliner IPAs, the Elvis Juice IPA,” and even has hops in it.

Guest mix
BrewDog has a loyal following of craft beer enthusiasts around the world, which has brought a lot of international guests to DogHouse since it’s been open, Quick said. Forty percent of the hotel’s guest mix is made up of local guests while the remaining 60% is guests from all over the world.

“We have people coming out from Seattle and from Los Angeles and Scottsdale and everywhere for one night’s stay and leaving the next day,” he said. “To be frank, as someone who’s been in the hotel industry a decent amount of time, it’s so odd for me (to see) a one-night stay for such a long distance, but it’s really a testament to how much people really want to be a part of the experience, which is awesome, or to make this a piece of their experience along their travel journey. So (it’s) very, very cool.”

Partnerships and other things
While the DogHouse is a craft beer hotel, it does have amenities other than beer, which were made possible through great local partnerships, Quick said.

The people behind BrewDog were drawn to Canal Winchester as the company’s U.S. headquarters because of the great people, partnerships and the location, he said.

Canal Winchester is close to Columbus, which is an area with a lot of breweries, but not “so many to where we would be either in a flooded market or flooding out the market,” he said, adding that as a beer distributor, you want to ship beer within a 500-mile marker to keep it fresh.

“You can keep it rotating; we could resupply and market within 12 hours, no problem, very easy,” he said.

BrewDog is thinking about building a second hotel in Scotland, Quick said, but built DogHouse “before we even started thinking about breaking ground on the other hotel in Scotland.”

“We thought (Canal Winchester) was the best place not only (to) put our headquarters but to launch out this new brand vision,” he said.

In terms of partnerships, DogHouse partners with a local coffee company, and partnered with a cross fit company in Columbus for equipment for the hotel’s gym. The thought of putting a gym in a beer hotel was a little funny, Quick said, but necessary.

“If the gym is part of your life and beer is part of your life, you cannot have a bad workout while drinking all day,” he said.

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