branding

The Friday Mash (PG-13 Edition)

On this day in 1984, the Motion Picture Association of America added “PG-13” to its film rating system. The new rating was created after parents and advocacy groups complained about the amount of violence in some PG-rated films.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in South Carolina, where a 20-year-old law forbids breweries to donate beer to non-profit organizations. This law—which state liquor agents are aggressively enforcing—effectively prevents small breweries from taking part in festivals.

In Las Vegas, Pub 365 plans to offer a rotating selection of 365 craft beers, including beer cocktails and a rare beer menu called the Unicorn List. Seasonals will make up one-fifth of the selection.

Market Watch’s Jason Notte writes that craft breweries are resorting to a tactic they once despised: establishing sub-brands for beers that may not fit the character of the brewery’s core business.

Starting next year, beer bikes will be banned from Amsterdam’s city center. Locals complained that the bikes, packed with bachelor partiers, have turned downtown into a drunken theme park.

The Washington Post’s Fritz Hahn has noticed a trend: the 16-ounce shaker pint is giving way to smaller glassware. It’s makes craft beer appear cheape, and it’s a more responsible way to serve high-gravity styles.

Thieves made off with two refrigerated trailers packed with 78,500 bottles of SweetWater Brewing Company’s beer. Police recovered some of the beer in a nearby warehouse—which, ironically, was a shooting location for the 1977 bootleg beer classic, Smokey and the Bandit.

Finally, Untappd, Inc., now offers “Untapped For Business”, which allows retailers to publish beer lists, share their menus with consumers, and notify customers that rare or sought-after beers are going to appear on store shelves.

The Friday Mash (New Albion Edition)

On this day in 1579, Sir Francis Drake claimed a land he called Nova Albion (better known as modern-day California) for England. Nearly four centuries later, Jack McAuliffe opened New Albion Brewing Company in Sonoma, California. That started America’s craft beer revolution.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Detroit, where Stroh’s Beer was last brewed more than 30 years ago. Pabst Brewing Company, which owns the Stroh’s brand name and original recipe, has made a deal with Brew Detroit to revive the “European-style pilsner” with 5.5 percent alcohol by volume.

A new Colorado law will allow grocery stores to sell full-strength beer, along with wine and spirits. However, grocery chains are upset that it will take 20 years for the law to take full effect.

With summer looming, Gawker’s Alan Henry offers a tip for travelers staying in cheap hotels. Those old-school air conditioners that sound like jet engines are great for chilling beer in a hurry.

Japanese ballparks don’t have peanuts or Cracker Jack, but they do have biiru no uriko aka beer girls. These young women, who carry 30-pound kegs, work for beer companies, not ball clubs.

Breakthrough or April Fool’s joke? Karmarama, a London firm, has designed glassware for MolsonCoors’s beer called Cobra. It calls the glass “the biggest innovation in pouring since gravity”.

During the 1950s the U.S. government studied the effects of an atomic bomb blast. It found that beer a quarter mile from Ground Zero was “a tad radioactive”, but “well within the permissible limits of emergency use.”

Finally, Special Ed’s Brewery in California learned a lesson in branding. The public objected loudly to its use of slogans such as “Ride the Short Bus to Special Beer” to promote a new beer, and labeling a beer ” ‘tard tested, ‘tard approved”.

The Friday Mash (Xanadu Edition)

On this day in 1271, Kublai Khan of “stately pleasure dome” fame renamed his empire “Yuan,” officially marking the start of the Yuan dynasty of Mongolia and China. The yuan is modern-day China’s monetary unit.

And now…The Mash! 

We begin in Japan, where a local firm has teamed up with an Amsterdam-based renewables company to develop eco-friendly plastic beer bottles. They’re made from plant sugar rather than fossil fuels.

As competition grows more fierce, breweries are hiring artists, graphic designers, and even branding firms to create packaging that wins shelf space and attracts customers.

“Beer before whiskey” is risky, but not for the reasons you think. People drink faster as intake increases, whatever the beverage; and whiskey’s higher alcohol content compounds the effects.

Last weekend, Vancouver’s Storm Brewing unleashed its Glacial Mammoth Extinction beer. It’s Canada’s first beer above 25 percent ABV, and it isn’t cheap: a bottle will set you back C$1,000 ($730 U.S.).

Craft brewing’s success has created a problem: a shortage of cans, especially the 16-ounce cans that many crafts prefer to distinguish their product from national-brand beer.

Debrett’s, a British etiquette authority since 1769, has published a guide to proper beer-drinking. Among other topics, it covers proper pouring and tasting and how to behave decorously at the pub.

Finally, James Grugeon of Brisbane, Australia, is crowd-funding a brewery with a social purpose. Half the profits of his Good Beer Company will be donated to a conservation society trying to save the endangered Great Barrier Reef.

A-B’s Unbranded Beer Campaign

Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch InBev launched a new digital campaign called “Let’s Grab a Beer.” The campaign is unusual in that it carries almost no branding. According to E.J. Schultz, a correspondent for Advertising Age magazine, it’s aimed at persuading drinkers to choose beer over spirits, which have been aggressively promoted in recent years. If overall beer consumption rises, A-B InBev—which ranks first in U.S. market share—stands to gain the most.

However, some industry observers are worried that A-B InBev’s campaign will contribute to the “wineification” of beer: placing emphasis on beer styles rather than brands. Schultz explains: “For instance, if more people walk into bars and ask for a ‘wheat beer,’ rather than a Shock Top or Blue Moon, brands become less valuable. And good branding equals profits.”

One Beer, Two Beers, Red Beer, Blue Beer

Your political beliefs probably influence your beer preferences. Researchers have found that residents of counties that vote heavily Republican and/or have a high percentage of church-goers tend to buy established brands rather than generics or new products. Conservatives are less comfortable with uncertainty, and one purpose of branding is to reduce uncertainty and simplify decision-making. Thus conservatives seem to like domestic beers more than imports such as Guinness or Heineken. They might also have mentioned Coors, for many years run by Joseph Coors, who gave generously to conservative causes.

Building a Brand

It’s sometimes easy to forget that craft brewing is a business, and that building a brand is just as important to your local micro as it is to the makers of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors.

Case in point: Crux Fermentation Project, a micro in Bend, Oregon. Larry Sidor, co-owner at this one-year-old operation, is considered one of the best brewers in the business. Paul Evers, one of Sidor’s partners, has a background in marketing and has created branding campaigns for several craft breweries. Evers contends that the idea that good beer speaks for itself is only half right. He says, “How is a beer supposed to speak for itself when it’s in a bottle on a shelf? You know you can do amazing things, but unless you’re building that bridge or connection to the consumer, they’re not going to find out about it.”

Evers goes on to say, “And it’s not just advertising. It’s not just packaging. It’s everything that that company does. It’s their employment policies, the trade policies that they adopt, what does the president say in a press release.”

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