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This is our most enduring year-end tradition at CBB: Combing through the archives and highlighting our favorite marketing ideas concocted by craft breweries in the calendar year. These promotions can actually tell you a lot about the state of the beer industry and the country in general. For instance, the last few years, delivery and online gimmicks were trending. In 2022, breweries brought back the on-premise parties in full force, non-alcohol options skyrocketed and NFTs continued to do whatever NFTs do. Here are our 17 favorites.
Giving away Dry January lockers with no combination
Non-alcohol sales are already trending way up, no matter what monthly gimmick is being marketed. But why stop there? The folks at HOP WTR are really pushing the commitment to Dry January by launching the HOP LOCKR. Yes, with a HOP LOCKR, customers can resist temptation to imbibe by locking away their beer and booze until Feb. 1. The HOP LOCKR also comes with free HOP WTR, of course. And it will be legit locked until Feb. 1. On that day, HOP WTR will send the combination to unlock it. Read about it here.
Little Fish Brewing’s Wild & Local League
Athens, Ohio-based Little Fish Brewing‘s 2023 Wild & Local League was a favorite for a few reasons. It 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. And Little Fish isn’t just charging a premium to charge it, noting all of its award-winning bona fides of the league beers in their promo. There are also other very cool extras, like a quarterly newsletter. Read about it here.
Crooked Hammock’s exclusive Backyard Beer Club
Since its founding seven years ago in Lewes, Delaware, Crooked Hammock Brewery has been obsessed with creating a never-ending cookout oasis. Crooked Hammock’s latest addition to this vibe is a new Backyard Beer Club, a new members-only experience aimed at rewarding truly Crooked guests who want to bring those good vibes back home (and provide more chances to chill at the brewery). And we dig it. Crooked Hammock will only accept 100 members per location at a set price of $180 per year. Read about it here.
Braxton Brewing’s rooftop IGOOBAR space
To utilize both their rooftop space during the winter months and offer a one-of-a-kind experience to taproom guests, Cincinnati’s Braxton Brewing Co. sets up a very cool IGLOOBAR. These provide an elevated experience in more than just height, as they go for that upscale-ski-resort vibe. Each igloo can hold up to eight people and includes a personal Bluetooth speaker. Read about it here.
Horsefly Brewing’s Southwest Fresh Fest and Pickin’ Party
Fresh hops! We all love ’em, and Horsefly Brewing Co. knows this, hosting the first-ever fresh hop beer festival of its kind in Southwest Colorado. The Southwest Fresh Fest and Pickin’ Party hosted at Billy Goat Hop Farm showcased all fresh-hopped beers made at breweries across the Four Corners region and beyond. The pickin’ was accompanied by live bluegrass tunes and yard games. Read more about it here.
MadTree Brewing’s One Good Party
One Good Party is MadTree Brewing‘s biggest party of the year, and it is filled with music, food, activities, and, the best part, a friendly beer competition that highlights four of their nonprofit partners. The Cincinnati Zoo, Adventure Crew, Cincinnati Parks Foundation, and Groundwork ORV each brewed their own beer that is exclusively served at the party. All are a part of MadTree’s 1% For the Planet network, where MadTree donates 1% of all sales to environmentally sustainable nonprofits. Read more about it here.
Lord Hobo’s 6.17K charity run
Lord Hobo Brewing wanted to expand its 617 brand this year. It did so the traditional way with yet another new variant, the 617 Lager. Then, it went big, hosting the inaugural 6.17K Charity Run to benefit the Greater Boston Food Bank. They donated 50% of the proceeds from the event to the Greater Boston Food Bank, whose mission is to “End Hunger Here.” It is the largest hunger-relief organization in New England and among the largest food banks in the country. Read more about it here.
Royal Docks drops secret prizes around town to hype beer release
People love summer, beer, games and prizes, and Canton, Ohio’s Royal Docks Brewing Co. had the best gimmick to tie it all together. The idea is the brewery “lost all of its patio chairs,” and it’s up to the community to find them. Royal Docks placed these chairs (that look like the one on the Backyard Crusher label) in locations around several Northeast Ohio counties and then dropped clues via email and social media as to where they are. Each chair has a prize attached to it — from concert tickets to gift cards to the brewery. Very fun. Read more about it here.
Clown Shoes augmented reality beer cans
Packaging ideas once locked down much of the Marketing Ideas of the Year list, but in 2022, we’ve kind of seen it all, haven’t we? Well, leave it to wacky folks at Boston-based Clown Shoes Beer to keep innovating with the addition of augmented reality to cans of Space Cake. Designed in partnership with Australia-based augmented reality app Swigr, the augmented reality label for Clown Shoes Space Cake Double IPA offers five different settings to toggle through – the first being a lifelike animation of the beloved characters featured on the label. Read more about it here.
Three Denver breweries launch NFT for IRL event
Here’s a great blending of our digital and real lives: Denver Beer Co., Great Divide Brewing Co., and Resolute Brewing Co. launched an exclusive NFT tied to an exclusive event. Purchasers of the NFT (and a guest) could join a craft beer tour and party bus in the summer. Eighteen total NFTs were available for purchase, six offered by each participating brewery. Every NFT is unique and features a retro, video game-inspired piece of art. Read more about it here.
Dunes Brewing launches NFT Mug Club with virtual and tangible things of value
In other interesting non-fungible ideas, Dunes Brewing, Port Orange, Fla.’s first-ever beachside brewery, developed an NFT-only Mug Club. The new NFT-powered, limited-edition, mug club has both tangible and virtual assets as value. The Dunes NFT Mug Club will start with only 100 mugs. The freshly brewed membership unlocks perks in one of three tiers – Special, Rare and Ultra-Rare – over the course of five years — which is another pretty interesting idea. Read more about it here.
Anderson Valley Brewing promotes price stability amid Big Beer price hikes
Sometimes the best promotion is just honesty about the status quo. And it never hurts to take a well timed shot at the Big guy. While Big Beer CEOs are talking about inflation and raising beer prices, Northern California’s Anderson Valley Brewing Company (AVBC), announced they’d do no such thing.
“For our part, we are holding our pricing where it is,” said AVBC President Kevin McGee. He also backed that up with some transparency on their costs and some initiatives they’ve undertaken to make this possible in the first place. Read more about it here.
Cinderlands Beer uses leftover bread from nearby restaurant in new beer that fights food insecurity
Pittsburgh Italian restaurant DiAnoia’s Eatery and nearby Cinderlands Beer Co. started a cool partnership that helps fight against food waste while creating a more sustainable craft beer benefiting 412 Food Rescue with Con Pane, an IPA created with bread sustainably derived from DiAnoia’s Eatery. The name of the beer fixates on the word companion as it derives from the Latin words com (with) and panis (bread) – or in Italian, Con Pane. Companions are defined as those with whom you break bread and share the table, one of the truest acts of community. Read more about it here.
The industry-wide Make Peace Not War beer label for Ukraine relief efforts
This is also what I mean about this list being a market of time. “Make Peace Not War” was a customizable beer label design that any craft brewery could adopt for use with their own beverages while raising funds for Ukraine relief efforts. The unique campaign is a collaborative effort between EGC Group’s Craft Beverage Division, First Sip Brew Box, and Hoot Design Studio. Read more about it here.
Foolproof Brewing donates proceeds from Woman Life Liberty beer to support human rights in Iran
Similarly, woman-owned Foolproof Brewing introduced a new lager, Woman Life Liberty, inspired by the revolution that started in Iran back in September. The Pawtucket brewery will be donating 10% of the gross sales of the beer to the National Union for Democracy in Iran (NUFDI). Other area establishments also joined this rally, including PTX Lounge in Cranston and The Avery in Providence. Its release was perfectly timed with the U.S vs. Iran World Cup game. Read more about it here.
March First Brewing’s week of mini festivals
Anniversaries are always a great time to go big, get creative and, of course, celebrate. March First Brewing in Sycamore Township, Ohio, celebrated five years in business by revisiting its favorite annual festivals all over one weekend, leading up to its actual anniversary on March 1. Each day had a special taproom releases, music and even a pig roast on Saturday. It’s a fun idea that reflects back on all that makes the brand what it is, and gives fans a day to hone in on the flavors and releases that they like best. Read more about it here.
LUKI Brewery celebrated Nurses Week with a benefit beer
Celebrating our everyday local heroes that rarely get recognition, like nurses, teachers and social workers, is always a winner in CBB’s book. The Arvada, Colo.-based brewery’s Nurses Week recognition hit a personal note for LUKI Brewery Co-Owner Cammy Smith. LUKI has employed individuals in nursing school and Smith herself is the director of clinical services at the Colorado Visiting Nurse Association.
“This has been a rough few years for healthcare in general, but nurses are leaving the industry in large numbers because they are feeling overworked and burned out,” says Smith. “Nurses are an extremely important part of our healthcare systems. We need to protect, support, and recognize nurses to prevent losing more, and to continue to encourage more to join the profession.” Read more about the brewery’s promotion here.