Active Adult Community Opens On-Site Brewery to Generate Buzz

If you brew it, they will come.

That’s the philosophy behind one active adult community’s decision to open a working brewery on its campus just north of Tucson, Arizona. The nearly 1,000-unit community, SaddleBrooke Ranch, opened a 100-gallon production brewery and hired a brewmaster to run it earlier this year, public radio station KJZZ Phoenix was first to report.

SaddleBrooke is owned by Sun Lakes, Arizona-based active adult real estate company Robson Resort Communities. Currently, Robson has seven communities in Arizona and Texas.

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Brewmaster Josh Johnson at SaddleBrooke

In both the booming active adult market and in senior living more generally, fierce competition is driving new and innovative amenities. But while many senior housing providers serve craft beer in their dining rooms — and at least one even has an in-house homebrewing program for residents — on-site production breweries are far less common if not nonexistent, perhaps because of the regulatory hurdles one must scale on that front.

For Robson, however, the paperwork was worth it, if only to make a splash in its local market. Building out the brewery cost roughly $145,000, but the company is already well on its way to getting a return on its investment, according to George Atwell, Robson’s vice president of food and beverage.

“We’ve had two or three home sales just because people saw that brewery,” Atwell told Senior Housing News. “If we can market the community and sell that home, that’s a big positive for us.”

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That unique selling point may be beneficial when angling for a younger generation of seniors. While residents won’t be involved in the brewing process itself, SaddleBrooke is planning to offer brewing classes and beer-pairing dinners in the future — an attractive perk for older adults who are already interested in craft beer.

“The brewery is a big tool for attracting people interested in the beer-making process,” Atwell said. “It was on the marketing side where I felt that the brewery would be a popular thing. And it’s just become such a buzz.”

Already, the brewery has produced its first beer, a blonde ale, and is working on an IPA. The overall plan is for the new brewery to make beer that would be sold in dining and drinking venues at Robson’s communities across the Grand Canyon State. In fact, in order to maintain its license to brew, the community must churn out 5,000 gallons of beer annually.

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“It’s about pride,” Atwell said. “They feel proud to live in a community where what they’re drinking off the tap handle is made right back there, and they know the guy who made it.”

Written by Tim Regan

To learn more about trends in active adult senior housing, check out Senior Housing News’ in-depth report on the topic. It takes a deep dive into the new active adult, and reveals how traditional senior housing leaders are finding and creating new business in what for them was a previously unexplored space. Click here to access the complete report.

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