Friday, November 7, 2014

You Label Me, I'll Label You(r) Beer


I totally judge a beer by it's label & packaging. Just today I was grabbing lunch at City Market trying to decide what/if any craftbeer would be coming home with me.  I realized while browsing the large format section that I had skipped over several beers that are known to me to be excellent based on peer reviews, but I continue to pass them up because I find the labels/artwork/marketing to be weaksauce.

Am I alone? I don't normally order a beer based on tap handle at a bar so it is tough for me to explain this phenomenon. In my "real job" I'm drawn to marketing, and always have been. Things need to be aesthetically pleasing. Burlington Beer for example is just killing it with their labels, I would drink anything in those bottles!
I really love the simplicity, where less is more, much like Maine Beer Company, and even Hill Farmstead. I would rather see a hand written post it note on a beer then some of the labels I saw on the shelf.

I know that we should not "judge a book by it's cover" but there are some that just never make it into the basket for this reason. Obviously content is king, but for this beer geek I would suggest adding a little time and thought to your marketing strategy when it comes to designing your labels, and logos.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Community vs. Competition | Beer People are Different

I had a conversation just the other day with someone at work regarding this, and today had the chance to speak to VPR about it.. Naturally it seemed like a good time to write about it as well.

It's simple really, in a previous post (I know they are few and far between) I wrote about the Vermont "beer bubble" and when/if it would ever burst. We have indeed lost at least one brewery since then, but I think we have gained like 7 more so we are still doing just fine don't you think?

In any case it got me thinking. My day to day includes working with/for business that are cutthroat, and fiercely compete against each other like nearly all industries. Bidding against each other, fighting for airtime, print space, and digital market-share. However, that doesn't seem to exist in relation to breweries. Instead, there is a bright, growing, and vibrant community of like minded ass kicking people.

For whatever reason, brewers and breweries seem to live outside the box of conventional thinking when it comes to marketing and selling beer. Why is that? How does it continue to grow and be immensely successful while going against the most basic of business principles? Could it be as simple as supply and demand? Make good beer, people will drink it? Or is there some unknown factor here, something un-tapped (pun TOTALLY intended). I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Not all breweries are created equal, and this community doesn't exist everywhere in this industry but I would argue that overwhelmingly brewers come together more frequently then going at each other. Years ago I had a beer called "Collaboration vs. Litigation" that was a shared effort between Avery Brewing Company and Russian River Brewing Company. That beer speaks volumes to me in this community vs. competition discussion. They both had a beer called "Salvation" and instead of going to the courts to duke it out, they simply opted on a collaborative path. That would NEVER happen in any other industry. 

Just go to ANY beer event. I don't care if it's a huge festival, or an event at a local watering hole. Whenever beer people get together, it's a good time. 

Community locally in Vermont is always a source of pride, but wherever you go in the beer industry brewers are always sharing a beer, talking shop, and enjoying themselves. You rarely run into any negative energy (with the exception of over excited enthusiasts on occasion). Overall the vibe is just outstanding. I have made life long friends and relationships via this industry, and I'm just an outsider looking in. A lover of the craft, and delicious suds. 

Perhaps more folks should think about collaborating over a beer, and enjoying the company. Usually the results are very good.

I apologize in advance for the two to three months it will take before my next blog, in the meantime check out my friends writing. They do it better, and more often than me anyway!

If My Coaster Could Talk

,,,and my boy Jeff Baker's column over on the Burlington Free Press. 



Thursday, July 17, 2014

10 Things to Expect at the Vermont Brewers Festival

For the first time in years I've decided to opt out of the Vermont Brewers Festival. I'll be taking my talents to Maine for the Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Tour festival instead and I could not be happier about it. I for one feel good about sharing this with out of towners, I can get most of the great beer here on the regular (although I admit I really want the Four Quarters Brewing Company Whiskey Sour & the Prohibition Pig Pappy Van Winkle barrel aged stout.)

However, those of you going this year are surely in for a treat. It is always a good time! If it is your first time attending here are 10 things you can expect, and if you can't make it, 10 things you will miss.

  1. Lines, really long lines. Especially at Lawson's, Alchemist, and Hill Farmstead. Also, at the bathrooms.
  2. People wearing completely DUMB pretzel necklaces
  3. A gorgeous view of Lake Champlain, and if you are lucky a beautiful #BTV sunset
  4. Bros, lots of bros.
  5. Beards.
  6. Smiles, laughing, and people having a fantastic time!
  7. Sadness, disappointment. People who did not pace themselves, or had one too many Magic Hat Meatwhistles.
  8. At least one person trying to go for a swim
  9. People who only have #9
  10. Stupid hats
Have fun, drink responsibly, enjoy our fine city and gorgeous waterfront. Cheers!

Drink #VTbeer 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Economics? Darwinism? When Will Vermont Beer Slow Down?

I'm currently watching the #creationdebate (you can follow me on twitter to see my views on that) and the the Darwinian "survival of the fittest" concept has me considering beer, obviously. Especially here in Vermont where the beer is seemingly unending and breweries continue to open and succeed at a breakneck pace. We have more breweries per capita as compared to any other state, and a new brewery opens nearly every month in Vermont. Many more coming down the pipe in 2014. 

It's been far too long since I've written anything, beer related or otherwise. There are so many great beer bloggers/writers out there, and my peers usually have it covered. I'm looking at you Jim, and Jeff. However, I feel compelled to start a discussion that could just be the elephant in the room for the Vermont #craftbeer scene.

When does is end?

I'm not sure on the sales, success or otherwise of many of these new breweries but as far as I know they are all still brewing beer and doing well enough to keep the doors open. We all know just how well the bigger and historically successful breweries like Magic Hat and Long Trail are doing. We also know that the craft beer community has embraced Hill Farmstead, and the Alchemist making some of the most prestigious beer lists worldwide on the regular. Putting Vermont on the beer map, a must visit for enthusiasts, a great place for a beercation. And what about some the newer breweries? Lost Nation, Drop-In, Grateful Hands, among others all seemingly killing it. (tangent: Lost Nation Gose is the best beer you may have never had, and Drop-In is a really cool spot to visit.)

In the coming months Four Quarters Brewing, Infinity Brewing, Burlington Beer Company, Queen City Brewery, Prohibition Pig, and many others will open to potentially serious fanfare. As many as 11 breweries are in planning to open this year!

The demand is always outpacing the supply, people like to drink, and Vermonters love craft beer. However, I can't help but wonder when it will all come to a head. Will it? Is more always better? What brewery are you most looking forward to in the coming year?

Curious to hear your thoughts, I'm not looking to see anyone fail. I'm a sometimes home-brewer myself, and would love to work in the industry and do something I'm truly passionate about, something that I really love but for now that is just not possible. So instead, I'll drink to a great year and future for #VTbeer. Get out and try something new at your favorite watering hole.