Kettle sour, dry-hopping, crowler machine, hazy and juicy, drainpour, adjunct, GABF, session, Corny keg, crushable, Brettanomyces… have I lost you yet? If all of these are terms are familiar to you, you’re definitely already aware of the great lengths breweries have been going to to stand out, and simultaneously vy for your loyalty.
However, even if you’re convinced I was spewing gibberish just then, you’ve still likely heard a few new terms tossed around as people discuss beer these days - IPA, ABV, IBU, etc. Quite honestly, if you’ve managed to step outside your home/turn on the TV/eat at a restaurant in the last seven years or so, you’ve witnessed firsthand how much the landscape of the beer market has changed.
Now, I’m fully aware that even with it’s total shakedown of the industry, craft beer still hasn’t grabbed every single person’s attention or interest. Tap into your memory bank for a moment, though… Have you ever seen longer restaurant tap-lists, beer aisles or descriptions on bottles than you have lately? I’m willing to bet you have not. That’s because the U.S. has more breweries now than ever before in its history. Even if you are vehemently disgusted by beer in any of its various styles, you’ve still encountered undeniable evidence of this seismic shift.
As you can imagine, when a singular industry expands (er, explodes) to such an extent, the best chance it has at succeeding is via differentiation. Of course, this concept is as ancient as beer itself, which can be dated back to at least the 5th millennium BC, but I digress. The only novelty these days is more in how they are showcasing their goods, and they sure are getting crafty (no pun intended).
Craft has taken a commanding position in the overall beer industry, and now each brewery is clamoring for its piece within that segment since they can’t quite compete with “big beer”. Although there are a few ways they can distinguish themselves, they all employ the same tactic: educating their consumer.
Whether the patron that steps into the taproom has an infinitesimal or enormous understanding of the industry is completely irrelevant. The bases of the craft beer “movement”, if you will, are curiosity and comradery. The whole idea is to experiment and learn and grow and share. Mudslinging is highly frowned upon, so the only way to build the brand’s base is to educate people and let them draw their own conclusions. Having the beer “speak for itself” doesn’t quite cut it any longer when 80% of Americans live within 10 miles of a craft brewery.
Recently, irrefutable trends have emerged about exactly which topics breweries are educating their patrons on. The most common appear to be: their particular brewing process and ingredients, the story of how the brewery came to be, how their beers got their names and any unique offerings like exclusive beer club memberships or “Beer Yoga” (which is precisely what it sounds like).
Now that we’ve established that craft beer is kind of a big deal, stay tuned for the next blog in which I’ll cover what on earth any of this has to do with interactive digital signage, boosting sales and brand engagement.
P.S. - Pliny the Younger is the first ever triple IPA, brewed by Russian River as of 2005 and available on tap at their Santa Rosa brewpub for only two weeks each February. Thirsty hopefuls can expect nearly eight hour wait-times and a three hour cap on their stay at the pub once inside. The spectacle of this annual event perfectly sums up the state of ever-growing indie beer fandom.
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Author Bio |Vida Soleimanzadeh | Horizon Display
Vida Soleimanzadeh handles the #bizdev at Horizon Display. She’s one of our resident homebrewers, amateur writers (so go easy), and in denial about the oxford coma. Although originally a So Cal native, she spent a few years living and working in both London and NYC’s tech startup scenes before confirming that snow has a novelty lifespan of roughly 5 winters. She also knows it’s her own fault that she’s incessantly envious of our lead engineer’s kegerator and wonders if anyone really enjoys the bottling process. If so, please get in touch ASAP as she has copious amounts of work at the ready.