While a select coterie claims that Esperanto is the universal language, few would deny that beer is the universal beverage -- and a potent driver of collaboration, conversation and camaraderie. For that reason, beer can be an ideal focal point for meetings and events whose objectives include team building, networking or other social imperatives. And thanks to the burgeoning microbrew industry, which has spawned scores of microbreweries that have meeting and event spaces, there’s no shortage of unique venues at which groups can enjoy it. Here are five that promise to have your group “hopping” with enthusiasm.
Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Michigan’s Founders Brewing Co. makes beer for “renegades and rebels.” Known for All Day IPA, its signature India pale ale, the company is headquartered in Grand Rapids, where its brewery and taproom features several spaces for private events. The larger of the two is the Centennial Room, which features a fully staffed bar with eight taps, seating for up to 60 people or standing room for up to 100. Located on the brewery’s second floor, it has two walls of windows that overlook the city. There’s also a two-sided patio that will provide additional seasonal seating for up to 120. Finally, there’s the brewery’s smaller meeting space, the Embassy Room, which has a brewery-meets-boardroom vibe for up to 20 people.
Lagunitas Brewing Co. (Petaluma, Calif.)
Lagunitas Brewing Co. has three facilities across the country, including one in Chicago and one in Seattle. Its original brewery and taproom, in Northern California, has two event spaces for groups. The first is The Yard, a seasonal, semi-private outdoor space that can accommodate groups of up to 250 people from April through October. Outfitted with picnic tables, tents, and its own bar and grill, it’s an ideal place to enjoy sunshine and suds. In the cooler months there’s The Loft, an eclectic private bar for up to 49 guests that includes six taps, funky couches, shuffleboard and board games.
The Jester King Brewery (Austin, Texas)
The Jester King Brewery in Texas Hill Country is a rustic farmhouse brewery that describes itself as being dedicated to “food, drink and community tied to a time, place and people.” Along with a tasting room and a restaurant, it has its own indoor/outdoor private event hall with a concrete dance floor, picnic tables, glass “garage doors” that can be opened or closed depending on the weather, and a traditional lofted barn ceiling. Although the brewery doesn’t advertise the event hall’s capacity on its website, the spacious venue clearly was designed to accommodate large, boisterous groups.
Surly Brewing Co. (Brooklyn Center, Minn.)
Surly Brewing Co.’s beer hall and restaurant features a rotating tap list of up to 35 beers and an extensive menu of food designed to pair well with them. Visitors to the Minneapolis brewery also can take a brewery tour, enjoy a beer outside in the sizable beer garden or pick up some merchandise at the Company Store. For private events, there’s Scheid Hall, which Surly describes as being “elegant and industrial.” The second-floor meeting venue can host up to 175 guests and has full A/V capabilities. During the summer months, groups can host an event for up to 120 under a tent in the aforementioned beer garden.
Tres Cerveza's (Cancún, Mexico)
Tres Cerveza's (pictured) is made for groups. That’s because it’s the first and only microbrewery in an all-inclusive hotel. Located at Hyatt Ziva Cancún, which offers 547 guest rooms and 15,995 square feet of meeting space, the combination sports bar/microbrewery features high-definition TVs and game tables, and serves a rotating selection of three beers that are brewed by the resort’s own brewmaster. Groups can rent out the entire space, and can even have their company logos printed on beer bottles for their event.