Ultimately, your intentions will shape the outcome of your brewing business. If you only care about money, your beer might not turn out so great. If you’re cynical and think people don’t know what great beer tastes like, trust me, you are wrong. If you aspire to be the aloof guy with a beard who exclusively brews balls-to-the-wall small batch ÜBERBRAU, more power to you, but keep in mind, you may wind up alienating potential macro converts, warding them away from the craft beer market through sheer intimidation.
HOWEVER, if you approach the field with a genuine love and knowledge of craft beer — not just the stuff that goes in the glass, or into your wallet — you will have the perspective you need to deliver a great experience to your customers. ALL of your customers.
Of all the nice things I can say about North Pier Brewing, I would say this: It feels like a brewery that anyone can enjoy. If there’s to be a craft beer bubble, it will be the result of too many breweries offering unremarkable products and lackluster experiences for their would-be customers. Thankfully for us, and for the formidable Michigan beer scene, North Pier is not one of those breweries.
Jay and the team behind North Pier grew up in the area, have had a chance to travel and absorb different brewery experiences and understand at a fundamental level how compelling a craft brewery space can be. They’re coming at things from a holistic approach. Yes, they’ve got good beer, but it isn’t enough. They’ve also got solid branding, a consistent public image, a purpose-built ‘third place’ setting that people in the community are already flocking to hang out in, and a business model that is flexible enough to weather changes in the market. They’ve got a responsive website that people can actually use. You can’t drag your ass in Michigan when it comes to selling beer, after all.
So, there’s another brewery open in Michigan. It features a friendly staff plus some nice, clear way-showing signage. There’s a cool taproom with garage-door style windows and a patio. It’s close to the beach, so you can grab a growler and go enjoy the weather. Bring the whole family. There’s nitro coffee on tap, a freshly waxed shuffleboard table and some wicked t-shirts for sale. The beer is well-made and tastes great (fantastic, actually). If you don’t feel up to driving all the way to the Grand Rapids area, it would make a nice little day trip. Be sure to stop by North Shore Inn and grab a burger. You’ll thank us; that is, once you regain your wits.
This column was provided by the folks at CODO Design, a five-man branding firm based in Indianapolis, IN. They’ve spent years working with startup craft breweries on naming, branding and positioning, responsive web design, and package design. They’ve gathered their experience into a comprehensive Craft Beer Branding Guide to help startup breweries navigate the entire branding process. Check it out at www.craftbeerbrandingguide.com.