First burgers, now beer

By Tim Nelson
September 25, 2018
RiverNorthPhotography/Getty Images

These days, IHOP seems to be less of a pancake (burger?) restaurant and more of an ongoing exercise in engineering viral stunts. Earlier this year, they famously (pretended to) change their name to IHOB, a silly idea that nonetheless garnered the restaurant millions of free impressions and a legitimate boost to their bottom line.

Now, they’re betting that lightning can strike twice by aligning themselves with something that pairs pretty well with burgers: beer. In collaboration with Keegan Ales, a Hudson Valley area brewery York, IHOP is set to sell a “IHOPS Pumpkin Pancake Stout”. Drawing on the upstate New York craft beer company’s experience with its Mother’s Milk and Joe Mama’s Milk (yes, really) stouts, the brew seems to incorporate the tastes of IHOP’s buttermilk pancake batter with the signature flavors of fall (pumpkin, maple syrup, and “seasonal spices”) into a single, palatable pint.

From the sound of it, IHOP wasn’t looking for an excuse to brew beer, but realized that their signature seasonal pancakes could work well as a craft brew. “Every year, our guests eagerly await the return of our seasonal pancakes: Pumpkin Spice, Cinn-A-Stack, and a new combination of the two this year, Pumpkin Cinn-A-Stacks,” said IHOP CMO Brad Haley. “Our advertising agency, Droga5, suggested that those same ingredients that make our fall pancakes so delicious would also make a great tasting beer, and we wholeheartedly agreed.”

If you’re hoping that IHOP will have the Pumpkin Pancake Stout on tap, you’re out of luck: it’ll only be available at select beer spots in the New York tri-state area. According to Grubstreet, it can be found at NYC locations like Beer Culture, Gebhard’s Beer Culture, the Hilton Hotel in Brooklyn, and Top Hops. In total, Keegan Ales tells Nation’s Restaurant News that they only produced 20 barrels of IHOPS, and the beer will only be on sale through October.

It won’t have the same viral reach as the IHOb stunt (and even fewer people will be able to actually taste the beer), but the fact that IHOP is at least endeavoring to make a tangible product this time feels like a step in the right direction with its goofy marketing efforts. I, for one, will drink a Pumpkin Pancake Stout to that.