Craft brewers have some of the most inventive ideas for promoting their brands, and 2019 had some of the best examples yet. Instead of our annual list of completely random ideas we liked, this year have them separated them into categories of Charity and Giving Back, Packaging Promotions and Rebrands, Marketing Campaigns, Off-Premise Sales Concepts and On-Premise Offers and Updates.
Charity and Giving Back
Pretty much awesome: Pure Project brewery launches Pounds for Pints to keep plastic out of oceans and alleviate poverty
Pure Project is a small batch craft brewery with two locations in San Diego and another in Carlsbad, Calif. Pure Project’s mission is to build community and a reverence for beer as an agricultural product by staying true to its ethos of quality ingredients, sustainability and attention to detail. Pure Project is taking things a step further by partnering with Plastic Bank, a multinational organization whose mission is to “Stop ocean plastic by gathering a billion people together to monetize waste while improving lives.”
The Beer 4 Good partnership builds upon last year’s groundbreaking Women Who Whisky, a collaboration led by Sue McCollum, Major Brands chairman and CEO, that brought together seven St. Louis-based female business, civic and nonprofit leaders to create a limited-edition Maker’s Mark Private Select Bourbon aged in a custom-made barrel, the sales of which raised more than $300,000 for four St. Louis nonprofits.
Packaging promotion and rebrands
Google alerts has officially notified me that this story is sizzling across the web (from CNN to the The Takeout). Fargo Brewing Co. from North Dakota recently did a very cool can release aimed at “ONE-der dogs,” highlighting difficult-to-adopt dogs from a local rescue on its packaging.
Big Lake Brewing, one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in Michigan, is expanding brewing capacity again, doubling their capacity in the last calendar year. The Holland-based brewery is adding three more tanks next month, increasing the brewery’s overall output capacity to 7,000 barrels per year. It’s also squarely focused on its home state, and only its home state. This month, Big Lake solidified that stance by adding a new “Michigan-only brewery” seal to every can, signifying that Big Lake beer is brewed in Michigan, for distribution only in the state of Michigan.
Why rebrand? For Atlanta Brewing Co. it was about a resurgence in hyper-local pride and the opportunity to tell the story of the oldest brewery in the state of Georgia. For Great South Bay Brewery in Long Island, N.Y., rebranding was an affirmation of the company’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint and establishing a simple, consistent can packaging design. For Salt Lake Brewing Co.’s Wasatch Brewery brand, its revamped aesthetics align with an upcoming change in Utah legislation allowing stronger beer from 4 to 5 percent ABV to be sold at convenience and grocery stores.
What drew Anheuser-Busch to Platform was that data-driven, fast-paced approach to beer creation and distribution combined with its brick-and-mortar footprint in Ohio’s three largest metropolitan cities: Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. Plus, Platform knows how to market to that audience, and here’s a good example: For the second year running, Platform Beer is doing its clever Golden Sticker contest, reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The company recently announced that 20 stickers can be found under the can holders of its Caramelicious milk stout brand.
“We’ve always been proud of the strength of the Three Weavers brand, but as we enter our sixth year, we thought it was appropriate to give our presence an update,” said Three Weavers’ Brewmaster, Alexandra Nowell. “Three Weavers has matured over the years and we feel this refresh reflects that sentiment perfectly and elegantly.”
Traditional German beer culture trappings, while fun, tend to be kitschy and dated. Don’t get me wrong, I personally love everything about it: but weird old cuckoo clocks, lederhosen and ceramic steins don’t necessarily convey quality in 2019.
Enjoy some naked people drinking beer: Luxembourg-based brand nudes it up to market beer in Wisconsin
We’ve enjoyed naked people drinking beer before. Now, it’s time to enjoy some more. Really, what took so long? A Luxembourg-based beer brand touting a history back to 1842 has released a new ad campaign that features attractive people in the nude as a way of promoting its natural ingredients. Bofferding is a brand brewed by Brasserie Nationale, which is the largest brewery in Luxembourg, based in the city of Bascharage (go Hedgehogs!). Brasserie Nationale is basically the merging of two impressively old beer brands — Brasserie Bofferding (founded in 1842) and Brasserie Funck-Bricher (founded in 1764).
Deschutes’ “It Comes with The Territory” campaign was announced a few months ago, noting the brewery would be releasing digital films, radio and out of home advertising, highlighting the brewery’s dreamy Pacific Northwest region. There was note of how the campaign would also focus on the growing pressure between craft beer and cannabis, and now you can finally watch some fun commercials based around that fact. Deschutes uploaded a few spots to YouTube recently, embedded on this page.
Gotta watch: New Belgium Brewing produces poignant and artful video series to protect public lands and raise $250,000 for charity
“It all comes from not knowing my left from my right when I panic,” says Valerie Douglas, a Utah wheeler (a motorized outdoor explorer in a Jeep) in the video above. “I went left when I should have gone right, and there was a cliff, and I went over two and half times. We had some people at the bottom of the hill flip it back over, put some oil in the engine, aired up the tires and went and hit the trails .… You can’t let stuff like that scare you. It’s just one of those things. You gotta keep going.”
Bud Light is literally gouging people’s eyes out to get the consumer’s attention. Does your marketing need to be so loud? Does it need to be so aggressive and mindless? No, says Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. The company’s portfolio is marketed as “Beer for Exploring,” and the brand hopes to personify the freedom of adventuring through nature’s wild places with a brewski in the backpack and not a bullhorn. Last week, I noticed three 30-second spots the company uploaded to YouTube, called “Rain Check,” “Last Call” and “Binge Watching.” These great ads turn down life’s volume, using only natural sounds and the occasional clink of a beer to convey a message of tranquil outdoor socializing. I love it.
The father of free verse is the focus of Bell’s Brewery cool new Leaves of Grass series. The Michigan-based brewery, which officially brews some of the best beer in the world, is creating seven brand new Bell’s beers inspired by Walt Whitman’s literary classic, which is a personal favorite of President and Founder Larry Bell.
Off-premise Sales Concepts
Taking place for one-day-only on July 20, the location of Busch Pop Up Schop will be revealed via the Busch Twitter account in the week leading up to the opening. Those who decipher the clues will be handsomely rewarded with prizes from Busch, including the ultimate gift for any Busch fan – beer for life.
How Maine craft breweries grew their export business with one big promotion, savvy insurance policies
For those unfamiliar, the Maine Beer Box is basically the world’s largest mobile kegerator. The 40-foot refrigerated shipping container packs in 78 beer taps and carries beers local to Maine to far-away destinations. Its maiden voyage was a trip to Iceland three years ago.
Four Fathers Brewing in Valparaiso, Ind., like many small craft breweries, needed more room. Not necessarily for any big capacity expansion, just because a 1,400-square-foot space in a strip mall gets cramped for both customers and creative brewers. This year it made the jump to a new 5,000-square-foot location in a business park. The additional square footage is dedicated to broadening its barrel-aging (it is known for its stouts) and new beers. Customers also have more elbow room and seating options. This was a strategic investment in flexibility, freedom and focus.
On-Premise Offers and Updates
Meanwhile Brewing aiming to open in Austin spring 2020, plans include a soccer field, music stage and ‘hammock forest’
The Meanwhile taproom will have 250+ seats. Within the taproom, there is an event space that can hold approximately 60 people. While the food truck selection is ongoing, but the company is in discussions with several local concepts to complement the space. Plans for the property include: a playground; bocce court; outdoor soccer snooker/pool court; a small recreational/soccer field; a mini “hammock forest;” and a small stage. The event room, soccer field and whole brewery will be open to rent upon request and enough advanced notice.
Good idea: Hopworks Urban Brewery to honor mug club memberships from recently closed Portland-area breweries, bars
In the past year, Portland has seen some high profile drinking establishments close their doors. The once-beloved BridgePort Brewing closed, Portland Brewing and Widmer Brothers Brewing closed once-packed restaurants, and brewpubs Alameda Brewhouse, Columbia River Brewing, Burnside Brewing, Lompoc Brewing, Rock Bottom Brewing and Cider Riot called it quits too. In addition, Laurelwood Brewing closed its Westmoreland pub and sold off its production side. Bummer. This turnover means there are some regulars looking for a new stool or mug to call their own again. Enter Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB), the first Certified B Corporation brewery in the Pacific Northwest. HUB sent word that it will honor mug club memberships from these recently closed breweries, cideries and bars in the Portland area, which is just a really great idea and marketing promotion.
A marathon runner himself, Bobby Slattery, owner of Fifty West Brewing, stated: “For us, the thing we are most excited about is providing people with the opportunity to learn that they can run a marathon, they just don’t know it yet. We want participants to feel invited into the community by providing them with a place to start in a non-intimidating setting.”
42 North Brewing Co. completed its expansion in East Aurora, N.Y. With the new 6,600-sq-ft addition, the brewery now encompasses over 17,000-sq-ft in the center of historic East Aurora, N.Y. The new, two-story addition includes a full-time canning line, significantly increased cooler space, office space, event space and four Airbnb (“Beer & Bed) units. With the expansion, 42 North plans to increase production by 30 percent in 2019 and now has the capacity to produce 15,000 bbls in the East Aurora, N.Y., location.
Braxton Brewing finds new way to blend Kentucky’s bourbon and beer culture with ‘private barrel program’ at new Barrel House
With the establishment of the Braxton Barrel House, the brewery looks to establish itself further as a true innovator. At a special grand opening last week, guests enjoyed live music and local food options and a chance to try “the nation’s first Private Barrel Program for barrel-aged beer.” Ranging from $500 to $5,000, custom private barrel picks can yield upwards of 300 bottles of barrel-aged beer.
Breweries are coming to represent the values of the communities in which they are located. The Dorchester Brewing Co. (DBco.) is the brain child of Dorchester, Mass.-based entrepreneurs who saw the demand for just such a space in their working-class Boston neighborhood. The facility offers aspiring and growing companies “a turnkey opportunity to produce, package (bottling, kegging, and canning), store, sell, market, and even taste their beers in our tap room.” The vision of the business plan was to support the proliferation of craft brewing in the area and bring together a community of people who share common values.
This keg tornado art installation from Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery is the coolest thing you’ll see all day
Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery recently turned 71 used stainless steel beer kegs into a public sculpture. Attached to the northeast corner of Lakefront Brewery’s Commerce street building, the kegs create a tornado and each keg is lit with two bands of LEDs (able to be programmed by pretty much any color combination possible). Towering over 40 ft, this “Kegnado” will definitely draw your attention.