Episode #18 - 3 Beer Trends for 2017 + more

Herb Infusions

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In the past few years, we've seen some weird, wild stuff in the beer category. Maple Donut Bacon Ale, Redhook and Hilliard Joint Effort THC infused beer, and the completely disgusting and horrible idea coming from Wynkoop Brewing in the form of Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout. I'm all for innovation but I don't think I can get my head around this. (If you're not familiar with Rocky Mountain Oyster click here).

I predict we'll see lagers taking a new spin with herb infusion. We've seen plenty of herb infusions in the past, but I predict this year the garden spices will take a primary focus instead of the fruit flavors. Rosemary, Basil, & Cilantro will all make appearances in this year's frothy innovations and the next step in the evolution of cooking will use beer on a new level, not just beer can chicken. 

Mobile Tasting Halls

This is an idea I've put quite a bit of thought into. Imagine being able to enjoy the beer tasting hall experience that you get with your local brewery but with beers from all over the country, or even world. The idea is a physical space that has all the equipment and resources to act as a beer hall and the only thing that changes is the brewery. 

photo credit: thebronxbrewery.com

photo credit: thebronxbrewery.com

This idea gives breweries from all over the opportunity to run a tasting room for a period of time in the major centers. Ninkasi brewery can have a tasting room all to themselves in Vancouver, BC or Tree Brewing in Kelowna can bring their tasty concoctions to the up and coming city of Saskatoon. 

A pint of Joe?

Coffee is one of the world's favorite beverages, and beer is certainly up there as well. I predict a combination of both. This isn't necessarily a new thing, but the past has seen brewers using dark roasted malts which presented a coffee-like flavor in stouts and dark ales. This year I'm thinking coffee first, beer second. Caffeine and alcohol can be a great combination if done safely and I think the coffee crazed North American culture is ready for a new spin on coffee-beer. 

credit: lifehack.org

credit: lifehack.org

Additional Up and Coming Trends in Beer

Crowlers are the new Growlers

Drones Delivery Beer?

Let's see what the beer world brings us in 2017 - I personally would love to have a drone drop a frosty Crowler off at my front door.


Episode #17 - 5 Tips for Marketing your brewery

The term marketing is probably one of the most misunderstood and vague terms used in the business world. I've been studying and participating in the world of "marketing" my whole career, in fact, most of us have, whether they know it or not. I wanted to share some insights and thoughts about how to impactfully tell your story as a business owner in the universe of craft alcoholic beverages. If I take a 15-minute drive towards Vancouver I can get to around 25 different places that I can pick up a growler to enjoy over Monday night football. This little fact should tell you that it is important to tell your story because your customer have options, and lots of them.

beer marketing vancouver craft

I am going to share 5 tips that I think will support craft makers now, and in the future, and keep things relatively simple in a complex world. 

1. Don't overdo it

We see it everywhere we look. Disconnected and scrambled messages that aren't coherent or consistent with a brand's foundation. You can't chase every bright opportunity and expect to keep a consistent message to your target customer, and you can't afford to botch your message over and over again. This will just confuse your customer and keep them motivated to find something they can follow. 

What do the strongest brands in the world have in common? 

Simplicity? Innovation? Vision? 

I would say all of the above are accurate statements about some of the world's strongest brands, but I digress. The point is, don't try to be everything the everybody. Also, keep your message tight and choose your platforms wisely. 

2. Video Works

It's not easy to capture great video today, but it's a hell of a lot easier than it has ever been before. They say a picture is worth a thousand words so a video must worth tens of thousands or maybe hundreds of thousands. The point is that if you can get 30 seconds of attention from a consumer, the likelihood of converting them to buyers is a hell of lot greater using video than almost any other media. 

Pro tip - Post an add to Craigslist looking for videographers in exchange for beer. You will likely get a student, new grad, or hobbyist who can help you capture some great content and hopefully help with post-production as well. I firmly believe you can get some amazing, shareable video content for a few hundred dollars , some beer, and a little shop swag. Also, a few minutes of quality post-produced video can extrapolate to some really amazing social media content as well, just get the video editor to cut it down to 10-second segments. 

3. Don't just post - participate.

If you want to really kick some ass in the social media sphere you don't need to have the most incredible photos, video, or comments - but there is one thing that will really drive the results, and that's communicating. Treat social platforms like a social table at the tasting room and if someone says the "Love that video" or "best beer this year" or "shitty service", I would highly recommend jumping in and providing a positive comment for your audience. Not only will this have a positive influence on that person but it makes it more likely you'll get more comments and buy-in from your customers in the future. 

4. Service is the best marketing

The one thing that will drive your customers back to visit you, again and again, is a great experience, and that comes down to service. Customers can usually forgive a less than perfect beer, a chipped glass, or dirty restroom, but they can't forgive you not treating them like guests. When your customer visits your tasting room, bar, or even website they expect a service level consistent with your brand promise. It's not that hard. Hire friendly staff who care about people, and care about the business. I know it's really hard to find amazing staff but I firmly believe that if you hire people with integrity and service oriented personalities than everything else becomes easier. 

5. Strategy will dramatically increase success

Going back to my first point about keeping things simple, the one thing you can do to help keep it tight is, build out your strategy and keep it updated. What does that look like? I would say start at the beginning to ensure you have a baseline marketing plan. This might be breaking it down into a few buckets as illustrated below. This will make it easier to keep organized and focused on the main prize.

social media marketing craft beer



Episode #16 - "Barber, pass me a beer!"

Photo Credit: Adrian Lam

Photo Credit: Adrian Lam

In British Columbia, we have been struggling with antiquated liquor laws and unnecessary red tape. As the craft movement continues to grow, new companies are trying to find ways to be creative and effective in the market, but the challenge is doing things in a way that the government will allow. Guess what, the BC MLA responsible for making these recommendations over the past 18 months has said that early 2017 will mark the start of when barbershops, nail salons, movie theatres, etc. will have the opportunity to apply for a liquor license and sell alcoholic refreshments to their customers. Hallelujah!

What does this mean for the customer? A more fulfilling and enjoyable experience while getting the services that are complementary to such products. What does this mean for the business? A great way to increase revenues and help small businesses stay in business. What does it mean for producers of alcoholic products? Another place that they can sell products to the customer and increase revenues for those businesses. What does it mean for the government? More tax revenue to pay for roads, hospitals, bridges, etc. The overwhelming feeling is that this is a positive step forward for the BC Liquor industry.

vancouver beer barbershop

I can't help but take a moment to point out some of the challenges that will undoubtedly come into play with this change. All serving staff will be required to have the "Serving it Right" certification which can easily be attained, check here. Responsible consumption and drinking and driving are obviously a concern. Another point I'd like to make is, will this drive some business away from the already hemorrhaging pub business? This has been a challenging category for business owners with rising costs, increased regulation, and changing consumer needs. 

In summary., I would say this is exciting news for BC small business with an increased service offerings and new revenue stream. Do I think the positives outweigh the negatives? Indeed I do, dramatically actually. As a beer lover and representative of beer and cider, I think this is a great new way for me to sell my products and get into a new category altogether.

Good Vibes going your way BC Liquor Board.

Episode #14 - SunRype Okanagan Apple Cider

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As an Okanagan kid, SunRype was the local company making the delicious juice boxes that we all used to sip on out of tetra packs and bendy straws at recess and lunch break. The juice company also specialized in hyper-addictive fruit leather treats that often accompanied my peanut butter sandwiches, and bag of carrots in the lunch kit. Things have changed, I now don’t drink juice unless it’s accompanied by a spirit based sidekick and fruit leather hasn’t been a part of my diet in way too long. I have to say, thinking about SunRype brings back some good memories. I remember touring the facility as a kid and being fascinated by the apple processing plants and completely astonished by the amount of juice they could fit into the huge vats of crushed apples. I don’t know about you, but I was a huge fan of the raspberry apple version of the juice box.

Enough about apple juice and fruit leather treats. It’s BC Cider Week here and it wouldn’t be right to ignore that. I am obviously a huge beer person but I am also a fan of a nice cider. There are so many to choose from now which makes a ton of business sense considering the density of apple orchards in our province. I sampled the Rumrunner from Sea Cider yesterday while at the Cascade Room on Main Street in Vancouver and felt we needed to take a closer look this week at some of our BC ciders - the SunRype Special Edition Okanagan Apple Cider was an obvious choice for me. Very cool branding and a minimalist design grabbed my attention while weighing my options. Thinking about that delicious apple juice I used to enjoy so much pushed me to the brand that was such a huge part of my childhood.

vancouver beer blog

What I hadn’t realized is that SunRype has been producing an apple cider since the 50’s in a much less commercial sense. My guess is it was actually a byproduct of letting the juice sit around for a little too long. This was Canada’s first hard cider.

Let’s get to the flavours and profile of the drink. I pour it into a lager glass and the it pours much like a champagne with a light yellow colour, the foam builds quickly and falls off just as fast. The aroma is exactly what it smells like as you enter into your local craft cidery, obviously fermented apples with a slight sweetness. 

vancouver beer blog

The flavours aren’t as interesting as some of the other craft ciders on the market. There’s a tartness similar to green apples, not too sweet, and quite a high level of carbonation. It’s easy drinking and enjoyable but not necessarily a conversation starter or stopper. It's 7% abv which strikes me as a surprise considering the drinkability. The Okanagan apple flavour that I’ve grown to love since childhood is certainly here in this 650ml bottle and I would buy again, after I sample and trial some other interesting cider competitors out there. If you’re looking for a nice apple cider highlighting the apples of the Okanagan I think you’ll enjoy this one. I certainly recommend it for someone looking for a mid-sweet cider with a nice tartness. What cider will we take a look at next?