Athens-based Little Fish Brewing might just be the best brewery in Ohio, based on its quality beers and commitment to locally sourcing ingredients. It’s one of my favs, at least. Memberships are now being accepted for its 2023 Wild & Local League, and I’m declaring it the Marketing Idea of the Week for a few reasons.
For one, this is a premium membership (limited to 80 people) for die hard fans to have exclusive access to small releases. We’re usually talking one barrel at a time. Great way to guarantee sales for (and properly price) their very best stuff.
But the limited capacity isn’t just a gimmick.
“The purpose of this society is to introduce our biggest fans to the hyper-locally sourced barrel-aged beers that we are most passionate about,” the brewery notes. “Because of the limited nature of the local & foraged ingredients, most often, only a single oak barrel (roughly 35-50 gallons depending on yield) of beer is produced. Due to the nature of the aging process involved in producing these exclusive beers, they are released when ready, and sometimes take longer than a calendar year to produce all four varieties.”
And Little Fish isn’t just charging a premium to charge it, noting the bona fides of the league in their promo: the Apple Brandy Barrel Maker of things, a beer released to the WIld & Local League in 2021, took home a Gold Medal at the 2022 Great American Beer Festival for Wood & Barrel-Aged Sour Beer.
“It’s a proud moment, and we think it speaks to the quality we strive for in the club releases.”
Membership also comes with these perks:
- 3, 500 ml (or larger) bottles of 4 exclusive beers. These beers will not be available to the public in bottles, although we reserve the right to serve them in our taprooms, or at festivals.
- Option to buy additional unallocated Wild & Local League exclusive bottles on a pre-paid basis.
- Invitation to a members-only party with a “plus one”, with Co-founders Sean & Jimmy. Food and vintage bottles will be shared.
- Right to reserve any Little Fish bottle releases on a pre-paid basis, and pick up at your leisure, any time during the year.
- A rad, members-only T-shirt.
- First Right to Purchase membership for the following year.
- Quarterly newsletter (as an editor, I’m weirdly overexcited by this perk)
I also like these two rules:
- Bottles are strictly not for resale on a secondary market. Trading is allowable. Any members re-selling bottles will forfeit their club membership with no refund given.
- Little Fish reserves the right to un-invite people from future year memberships if they are found to be extremely high-maintenance. Don’t be that guy. ; )
The purchasing window closes on January 1, 2023.
So what can league members expect this season? In the first two seasons of the Wild & Local League, Little Fish focused entirely on barrel-aged, mixed-culture sour beer. For this season, they are adding in a strong, barrel-aged imperial stout to the mix.
- A lambic-inspired, barrel-aged sour blond ale, aged a minimum of 1 year, and refermented on red raspberries that we hand-picked at the Ohio University Student Farm.
- A thicc barrel-aged imperial stout, brewed with loads of Ohio malts, aged 1 year in a Heaven Hill bourbon barrel. The barrel was manufactured at Speyside Cooperage in Jackson, Ohio.
- A barrel-aged, mixed fermentation kvass-inspired sour ale, brewed with Ohio malts, hops, and hand-baked bread loaves from our kitchen, and fermented with sourdough starter and house mixed cultures. Aged in a second-turn cabernet sauvignon barrel for 10 months. Because of the lower-abv of this beer, we chose to bottle it in 22 oz. bottles instead of the standard 16.9 oz. bottle.
- A blend of 2 sour blond ales: One aged in a Watershed Barrel-aged 4 Peel Gin barrel, and a sour blond beer with spruce tips, aged in a French oak wine barrel. Refermented on Ohio-grown blackberries.