When we first opened our doors in 2012, we tried to keep things as creative as possible on our end. It was hard. We wanted to get our name out there as much as we could, but we wanted to do it in true SOB style. We have done beer dinners, thrown tap takeovers, and participated in countless beer festivals. We have certainly done our share of standard beer events like these and will continue to participate in many of them.
This is how we reach more like-minded people. This is how we grow.
All of these are great, but the last thing we want is for beer events to get stale. I’m not saying traditional beer events have jumped the shark–yet; I just think it’s time for craft to start kicking more ass and setting the bar with some differentiation. At Solemn Oath we have some concepts in the works and no, I am not going to divulge all of our secrets to you on our plans for the next few years, but I can give you insight into what inspires us.
This is my opinion. There are no studies, no surveys, and no real facts to back this up. It’s just my thoughts on how you, the beer drinker, will demand that we keep things creative and fun when you come hang out. Everyday we have new restaurants and new bars that focus on craft in the Chicagoland area and all over the country. Everyday there is some sort of beer event going on in your area. It’s awesome. It’s exciting. With all these new places and these great events, more and more consumers are switching over to and seeking out craft. But you know all this already.
The question that has popped into my head for the past year or so now is: What will our consumer want next as a showcase for our beer? What will spark your interest enough that you will brave to arctic weather (enough with the snow already this year) and come party with us? Will new beer and sexy bottle art alone send you running out to the next bottle release? What will draw you to our event in the middle of summer (besides John’s stunning good looks) when it’s beautiful outside and there are three more going on in your area? I have some ideas and examples that prove them. Here we go.
Everybody loves a new car. The smell. The sexiness of the 2014 lines. The shine. It’s the same with new breweries. We welcome them with open arms. It’s what craft does. It’s exciting. As a brewery that has been open for almost two years, I feel we still have that shine but we still have that need to keep it fresh. We release a lot of styles of beer. People expect that from us. We need to showcase new beers, but breweries can still shine up an old gem. Every year, Metropolitan has an annual Generator party at Paddy Longs, tapping the previous year’s Generator and the shiny new fresh one. It’s a brilliant use of a small vertical and it’s always packed. The beer rocks. And if you are looking up when it is, you missed it. It was in January, so you now have a year to plan for the 2015 party. Don’t miss it.
Not crazy–we will get to that later. Not way over the top. Just something super cool that makes every person who hears about it go, “Damn, I want that”. That being said, The Lost Abbey Ultimate Box Set is about as creative as it comes. Twelve ultra-rare beers, four re-masters, four re-mixes and four fresh tracks were placed inside a custom-made roadie case made by our friend Matt Varnish along with a double-sided 12” record pressed with each inspirational track on it, laminated passes and more. How cool is that? This showcase of beer was a huge hit and is something the beer world had never seen. Sounds rad right? You want one? Well, you (and I) missed that to0; it was in 2012.
Distinct creativity isn’t just limited to product releases. Last fall we were asked to participate in the inaugural event of an ongoing partnership between Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting and coffee roaster Intelligentsia devoted to exploring the crossover between craft coffee and craft beer culture. Known as Uppers & Downers, this unique and intimate celebration brought out some of craft beer’s most celebrated personalities and brewers including Mitch Steele of Stone and David Walker of Firestone Walker. Events like this, which was set in Pasadena, set the bar and are far ahead of the curve as craft beer expands into fresh and similar markets like that of the quality coffee consumer. This is how we reach more like-minded people. This is how we grow.
An over the top spectacle. Make it fun. Make it wild. Make it so when you attend, you want to tell the world about it. Lagunitas does this perfectly with the Lagunitas Beer Circus. They have burlesque shows, huge teeter totters, marching bands, circus freaks, acrobatics and of course…beer. Picture the coolest, most wild circus that I would definitely not bring my kids to. It makes it memorable.
We asked each of these influencers how important differentiation is to the changing landscape of craft beer marketability:
“I think an event has to be eventful. It needs to be anticipated like a new Wes Anderson movie. It’s creative, it has a sense of celebration, I always relate to it, somehow.”
-Ria Neri, Beer Buyer for too many places to list in Chicago, IL
“There was a time when craft beer needed the spotlight – and it needed it all – in order to get the attention it deserved. But now that we’ve earned our place in America’s heart, we can do so much more by drawing connections between beer and other like-minded culture creators like chefs and coffee roasters. It’s our chance to be more than a passing trend. We can become an irreversible part of the American culinary landscape. That’s what the events I help create are all about. There will always be tap takeovers and festivals, but like so many things in life, the smaller you can make it – the more precise and specific to an idea – the more of an impact you’re going to have on the people that are there. And that’s how you ensure that the greatest beer in the world is a beer someone actually cares about. ”
-Michael Kiser, Good Beer Hunting in Chicago, IL
“I feel the craft beer consumer is starting to expect from us better, more thought out, original events, but fewer of them. For example last week’s Judas Feast at Bangers & Lace with Solemn Oath, Half Acre, Surly, Off Color, Three Floyds and us. A few others that come to mind is Fountainhead’s It Might Get Dark Event and the upcoming Solidarity Darkside event at Emporium. Those are they type of events that we at Revolution look forward to participating in.”
-Donn(nnnnnnnnn) Bichsel, Revolution Brewing in Chicago, IL
Header image provided by Michael Kiser of www.GoodBeerHunting.com from the 2013 Uppers & Downers held in Pasadena, California.
As we start 2014, expect a little bit of everything from us here at SOB. On our end we are going to push hard to keep you all excited about us, and the craft beer overall. In return, we expect you to push us back, not just us here at SOB, but all of us in craft. We are all in this together.