Appreciate Craft Beers? This Cruise Ship That Is Brand New Is For You

ABOARD THE QUANTUM OF THE SEAS — Craft beer lovers has come. Literally.

Billed as the first gastropub at sea, the centrally-located Michael’s Genuine Pub is the latest socket for James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz, who is known for a focus on artisanal products in his restaurants in Miami and the Cayman Islands.

“What we specialize in here’s American art spirits, craft beer along with a small, focused American wine list, and then each the product on the other side is from small artisan producers mostly from the USA,” Schwartz tells USA TODAY through a tour.

An offshoot of Schwartz’s Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami, the Bar offers such celebrated American craft beers as Bear Republic Racer 5, Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale.

Beers from New York’s Southern Tier Brewing Company, Oregon’s Full Sail Brewing and Pennsylvania’s Victory Brewing Company also are on the menu as is Michael’s Genuine Home Brew — the home beer in Schwartz’s land-based eateries.

Cruise lines have been slow to add craft beers to boats as they become available widely at restaurants and bars . Cruise ships only stock a limited selection of the biggest beers such as Heineken and Budweiser.

Schwartz says obtaining beers, spirits and food items to a ship can be challenging. Training staff to understand the products also is a problem. However, the demand is there, he says.

“I feel the sophistication level of the palate, especially the American palate, is shifting, and that need for better or more interesting or more lively food options is entirely what is driving this,” he states.

At 168,666 heaps, Quantum is the next biggest cruise ship ever built, boasting 16 public decks and room for nearly 5,000 passengers. Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas and sister Allure of the Seas are larger.