Zach O’Haire believes there is no job better than his. He establishes the craft-beer program and chooses the beer lineup for each of Cambria‘s 42 hotels.
“Being a cicerone for Cambria is really the best job in the world because it allows me to explore flavors and new communities all the time,” says O’Haire, who is based in Phoenix and is one of more than 2,500 individuals who have earned certified cicerone status. The status is achieved by passing an examination proving significant knowledge and professional skills in beer sales and service.
Employing a full-time beer expert like O’Haire obviously shows that Cambria, an upscale brand of Choice Hotels International, recognizes the impact of the craft-beer explosion and the importance of craft beer to its hotel guests. Cambria stocks at least five local craft beers, as well as other beers, at its hotels.
Cambria created its beer program because it believes craft beer is an important indicator of local culture and aims to bring guests “a taste” of that culture, O’Haire says.
Many brewers show regional influence in the beers they are brewing by “sourcing local ingredients or pivoting to specialty styles that embrace the regional cuisine,” he says. “The craft brewing scene helps give a sense of what is important to a community.”
Cambria’s goal, says Janis Cannon, Choice Hotels’ senior vice president of upscale brands, “is to curate a sense of space and place” at each Cambria hotel.
“Craft beer is a $26-million industry and one that we’ve seen grow exponentially over the last few years,” she says. “As the demand for hyper-local craft beverages increased, we realized there was an opportunity to enhance our existing program for experience-hungry guests and invested in a certified cicerone for the brand. We have worked with Zach since 2017 and, through this collaboration, forged relationships with local craft breweries to explore new tastes and trends and bring their products into Cambria hotels across the country.”
Cambria also recently began a program called Profs and Pints that brings together local university professors, guests and locals for lectures and a sampling of the local craft beers. Profs and Pints is kicking off at Cambria hotels in Dallas, Nashville, Chicago, Philadelphia and the District of Columbia.
O’Haire, who founded a hospitality consulting company before joining Cambria, says its difficult to name which beers at Cambria hotels are his personal favorites. His preferences “go through phases, leaning toward different styles at different times, such as when I’m eating, looking for a nightcap, in the heat of summer or snowed in.”
He mentions, though, a few brewers “I do really enjoy” whose beers are at Cambria hotels. They are: Westbrook Brewing, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina; Kane Brewing, Ocean Township, New Jersey; Tröegs, Hershey, Pennsylvania; Bearded Iris Brewing, Nashville, and Chicago’s Off Color Brewing.
Each Cambria hotel changes its restaurant menu every six months, so the craft-beer choices will likely change with the same frequency, O’Haire says.
The following are some of the beers being served at Cambria hotels in New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
Cambria Hotel New York – Chelsea
Green City, Other Half Brewing
The Crisp, Sixpoint Brewery
Brooklyn East IPA, Brooklyn Brewery
Flower Power India Pale Ale, Ithaca Beer
Sweet Action, Sixpoint Brewery
Bengali, Sixpoint Brewery
Cambria Hotel Chicago Loop – Theatre District
Anti-Hero IPA, Revolution Brewing
Apex Predator Farmhouse Ale, Off Color Brewing
Outlawger, Local Option
Green Line Pale Ale, Goose Island
Cambria Hotel Downtown Dallas
Witbier, Community Beer
Deep Ellum IPA, Deep Ellum Brewing
Devil’s Backbone, Real Ale Brewing
5 O’Clock Pils, Saint Arnold Brewing
The Temptress, Lakewood Brewing
GPA, Three Nations Brewing
Weekend Warrior Pale Ale, Karbach Brewing
More Cowbell, Buffalo Bayou Brewing
Cambria Hotel LAX
Mayberry, El Segundo Brewing
310 California Blonde Ale, Santa Monica Brew Works
Angel City Pilsner, Angel City Brewery