Consumers Cut Back, Ditch the Bubbly and Pop a Beer This Holiday

80% of People Entertaining This Season Make Beer Their Number One Beverage Choice
72% Surveyed Said the Party Will Go On but
73% are Spending Less than Last Year
Throw a Champagne Party on a Beer Budget With Four Points by Sheraton's Chief Beer Officer

December 16, 2008 // Franchising.com // White Plains, N.Y. –- Forget the champagne - beer will be flowing this holiday season instead as people plan on spending less on entertaining and cocktails according to a new study by Four Points by Sheraton. 80% of people entertaining this year ranked beer as their number one beverage choice beating out champagne and wine from the traditional top spots. 72% of those surveyed say the party will go on but 73% are carefully counting their pennies and spending less this year than last. What is the holiday season without a little well deserved festive cheer? Even though 77% do plan on spending less on alcohol this year, 66% of those surveyed see themselves drinking more this holiday than last year. This means holiday entertainers need to add a dash of creativity and cost-cutting ideas to their party mix.

Since beer has become "the" drink of choice this season, Four Points by Sheraton's Chief Beer Officer Scott Kerkmans has developed ideas and money-saving tips on how anyone can throw a champagne party on a beer budget. "During these times and with the holiday season upon us, more and more people are realizing that beer is one of those simple pleasures that they can still enjoy without taking a huge bite out of their budget."

Who needs Cocktails? This Season it's all about Beertails!

Who knew beer was the perfect cocktail mixer? This year save money without skimping on taste by featuring beertails at your holiday gathering. Beertails are on average 80% less expensive then serving a champagne or traditional liquor cocktail and just as tasty. "Beer is a great mixer because it provides such a broad array of flavors. From spicy to sweet to rich, beer can cover every base as a great mixing ingredient."

Looking for a tasty new spin on the traditional eggnog at half the cost? Mix three parts non-alcoholic eggnog with one part pale ale, barley wine or dark abbey ale. If you are in the mood for something sweet, why not try a Chocolate Truffle? Mix one part Raspberry Lambic beer with one part Chocolate Stout for a festive, sweet treat. Looking for an interesting aperitif? A Black Velvet is the perfect choice. Mix one part Irish Stout with one part hard cider. Need something that goes great with traditional holiday foods like roast turkey? A Tart Caramel, a special creation of Kerkmans', is the perfect pairing. Just mix one part Cranberry Ale or Lambic with one part Brown Ale.

Beer and Holiday Food Favorites = the Perfect Pairing!

Who said you can only pair wine with food? Beer is the perfect, if not better, choice for many traditional holiday favorites.

Turkey – Traditionally paired with Pinot Noir or Dry Chardonnay, turkey goes great with a French Saison Style Beer or an Amber Ale. "Today, many Pinot Noirs are overpowering for the clean, subtle flavors of a turkey. You didn't just spend days defrosting and hours cooking to have your wine completely overshadow your bird did you," said Kerkmans. "Instead, let the earthy and complex Saison bring out the roasted flavors and tone down the saltiness. Another great option is to let the sweet caramel flavors of the amber ale enhance the crisp skin of the turkey, and the flavors won't be drowned in the rich gravy."

Ham – People usually pair ham with a slightly spicy white wine like Gewürztraminer. Instead, try an English Style Bitter, Weizenbock or a Brown Ale. "Gewürztraminer is an option for ham, but the wine's spiciness is often lost when trying to stand up to the fat and salt in a ham. These aren't problems for beer," says Kerkmans. "Try an English Style Bitter and the hop's earthiness and spiciness will easily stand up to the ham without overshadowing it. A Weizenbock has some wonderful clove notes that pair perfectly with spiced hams, and a bready or nutty brown ale will have enough backbone to stand up to the juiciness of a ham, while also bringing out the roasted flavors."

Sweet Potatoes and Cranberry Sauce – A popular pairing for these traditional sides is a crisp Pinot Gris. Kerkmans' recommends trying a Dunkelweizen or an Oatmeal Stout. "The roasted flavors of the dark weizen and the oatmeal stout will really let you taste the caramelized sugars in the sweet potatoes. As for the cranberry sauce, the Pinot Gris can be overwhelmed by a fruity homemade cranberry sauce, but the darker beers can hold their own just fine."

Roast Beef – A popular pairing for a holiday roast is Cabernet Sauvignon. Instead of a Cabernet Sauvignon, this year try a Strong Ale or a Scotch Ale. "These beers are known for their rich and complex malt profiles that complement the roasted crust of the beef and the hops are strong and spicy enough to provide contrasting flavor for the rich sauce. The Scotch Ale will add some more roasted character to the beef from the darker barley in this beer."

Pie – Kerman's and Four Points have a love for pie and beer and believe it or not, they make a sweet pairing. For dessert, people usually turn to a Port or a late harvest Riesling. Instead, Kerkmans suggests trying a sweet stout or fruit lambic.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with approximately 900 properties in more than 100 countries and 155,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched aloftSM, and element SM. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.

* This study is based on a survey conducted by STUDYLOGIC LLC via telephone of approximately 1001 consumers in the United States, ages 21 and up. The respondents were grouped into two categories based on gender: 524 males and 477 females (52.3% male and 47.7% female). The survey consisted of fourteen questions.

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