It’s hard work opening a brewery, and even harder work keeping it open. There are more breweries in the U.S. now than ever before. As of 2015, there were 4,144, slightly edging out the previous high of 4,131 set in 1873. With so many fish in the sea, brewers are having to get creative.
If you’re a Sculpin, you can throw some habanero, grapefruit or pineapple in and make waves, but the ripple effect will be swift. Or, if you’re a market-savvy taxidermist, you can brew high-gravity beer and toss it in a squirrel. A more long-term and arguably more practical method would be to expand your brand beyond the scope of beer.
Did you know Dogfish Head has a pickle brand? What about brats? Coffee? You can enjoy them while you stay at the Dogfish Inn in Lewes, Delaware. The 16-room motel is strategically located between the company’s production brewery and brewpub.
As competition continues to stiffen, more brewers are looking beyond beer to brand building.
As an eminent marketer behind this cottage industry, Sam Calagione has always been interested in building a brand rather than just a brewery. By establishing more points of market contact, he firms up the foundation of his business while reaching a wider audience. “Oh you liked the sausage? It was infused with our Midas Touch beer...”
San Diego’s Modern Times Beer is one of the only breweries to roast its own coffee in-house. It makes for a wonderfully aromatic workplace, but more importantly, it lends authenticity to the entire enterprise, which is more important than ever for a craft brewer.
It’s also a logical step from one mind-altering beverage to another, especially when one is a classic hangover remedy.
Another beverage to beverage route is that of brewing to distilling. Ballast Point has created a full range of spirits and pre-mixed beverages, and New Holland’s been at it for almost a decade. And surprise, Dogfish Head got in on the action late last year. These companies can utilize their established distribution chains to break into a new market with minimal legwork. There are hundreds of smaller brewery combos around the country as well, be it distilleries, wineries or meaderies. Though they may not have reached a point of distribution, the same concept applies.
Photo Credits: Brewdog, Dogfish Head, Hunterdon Brewing