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BrewBround Session Notes

06-12-2015

 

 

In  #TBT fashion, we are spending this Thursday reviewing insights gained, trends examined and craft beer celebrated at last week’s Brewbound Session in Chicago. The guest list was impressive and the beer tasted delicious while the presentations and discussions delved into the development of craft beer, the current state of affairs and upcoming trends within the industry.

 

The much debated and feared issue of the craft beer bubble popped up throughout the day in various ways. The possibility of oversaturation is a common worry and breweries discussed ways to continue growth, maintain a steady level of success or break into such a fast-paced market as a new brewery. Growing the market share, overall, for beer was a popular strategy that many agreed with, including Andy Goeler from Anheuser-Busch, who referenced the increased popularity of table wines and whiskey potentially cutting into beer market share and the need to focus on increasing beer’s share overall. Baking a larger pie rather than scrapping over the slices showed the renowned communal attitude of the beer community at large.

 

The sheer momentum of the IPA category also came into play. With over 900 different IPAs on the market the question is what makes an IPA stand out at this point? Many breweries are sorting through that question individually, whether through recreating classics, experimenting with hop variants or abandoning the IPA train entirely in search of the next niche to be filled in beer. Whoever is able to find and fill the niche first can be sure to grab hold of a unique spot in beer, leading to increased sales.

 

In more than one panel discussion presenters grappled with the power of local, and now the rise of hyperlocal, breweries. Both a blessing and a challenge, the move towards local patronage has sprung new discussions for both breweries working towards regional distribution and breweries that are bunkering down in their supportive communities. The numerous breweries establishing themselves in neighborhoods, both in Beer City USA and throughout the country, was seen as a blessing by some, notably Alan Newman. The founder of Magic Hat and now of Traveler Beer praised local brew spots for their ability to introduce many to the beer scene by their accessibility as a local watering hole. This local beer experience can create excitement that induces the consumer to continue their beer journey and explore other beers.

 

 

Another strategy to cut through any market saturation is the power of the story. For a brand to be viable it requires a face, place and story in order to connect with their drinkers. In a world brimming with diverse and delicious beer options the “why” behind the brew can become just as important as the “what” of the brew. Breweries are now storytellers and are using marketing, specifically digital media platforms, to share that story directly with their fans while also honing in on their unique “it” factor that makes a truly successful brewery sticky, leading to loyal beer enthusiasts.

 

Mike Kaiser, founder of Good Beer Hunting, awed the audience with his presentation on building beer brands through storytelling. The need for a brewery to shape their story for themselves, rather than being steered by the perceived wants of the consumer, highlighted the need for a brewery to go beyond listing off their likes (bikes, water, bluegrass) and delve into their culture as a company. Dale Katechis, founder of Oskar Blues Brewery, underscored the importance of culture and its requirement to become from an organic source, primarily individual already committed to the company.

 

The value and high esteem held for brewery employees was clear throughout the presentations. Submissions for new brewery recipes, radical marketing ploys and the intangible “it” factor of each brewery came from the individuals who spent their days committed to creating the beer From marketing managers and brewers to founders of world-class breweries, all acknowledged the need to focus within on their company culture and the potential held by individuals working with them for continued success.

 

The single strain of thought prevalent throughout the day of conversation and presentations boiled down to the beer commumity’s determination to remain a place of artful creation, collaboration and cultivation. Brewbound Chicago Session showed that beer has no plans to divert from this method for growth. For Brewbound's own recap of the Chicago conference they've created a video highlighting the day. 

 

 

 

Charitable Giving: Holiday Ornaments

12-16-2013

Holiday Ornaments Give Back to Local Food Banks

 

 

‘Tis the season for jolly times, lots of full steins and sharing cheer and goodwill.

 

Join West Side Beer Distributing in doing all three as we work to help raise funds for local food banks this holiday season. It’s easy to do;  buy a paper holiday bulb – or as many as you want – and you’re helping out your neighbor.

 

According to the USDA, 49 million Americans, or 14.5 percent of all American households are food insecure, meaning they lacked access to enough food for an active, healthy life. This holiday season give the simple gift of life sustenance to those around with these paper holiday ornaments.

 

As part of our giving program, we ensure the funds raised are kept local. Each holiday ornament represents one dollar that will go towards local food banks in the Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing area. Where the ornament is purchased is where the charitable good will stay.

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