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Home » Can You [Please] Make Craft Beverage Exciting Again?

Can You [Please] Make Craft Beverage Exciting Again?

  • 10 min read

Depending on your trusted source for industry sales data, you may have seen stats recently about ready-to-drinks (RTDs) grabbing share from craft beer, wine and whiskey. And non-alcoholic drinks are having a moment despite challenges securing shelf space at retail. Closures and consolidations continue to be a sensitive topic. Then there’s Total Wine & More being one of the first national liquor chains to test selling THC beverages.

Needless to say, there’s a lot happening in the industry right now, and your brand may be feeling the direct impacts of reduced traffic, brand engagement and sales. Which is why it’s time to take a step back, pause and ask ourselves how did we get here? What has changed about the craft beverage business that might cause my core drinkers to jump ship? And why on earth are the 21-30-somethings saying no to alcohol completely?

Refusing a drink photo for excitement postThere’s no single, easy answer. Buyer behavior is changing. Health and wellness are a focus. Prices are increasing, making craft a luxury item. There are tens of thousands of brands to choose from. Businesses can cry foul at any of these, playing the victim card. But what can producers do proactively to change the narrative? We believe it’s time to make craft beverage exciting again.

Maybe not “exciting again” like the early 90’s when craft beer was exploding onto the scene. Or 2001 when [yellow tail] was introduced, ushering an era of approachability in wine. Or Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey hitting markets in 2011, introducing the whiskey category to new drinkers. These were all milestones in beverage that got the world talking. Business was booming. Investors were thirsty for the next ground floor opportunity. And money was readily available to fuel growth.

It’s just not that easy to sell craft beverage anymore.

Not because drinkers aren’t willing to spend money for quality liquid. But because we’ve made it difficult for them to say, “yes.” Yes to trying a new brand. Yes to visiting a tasting room. Yes to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options as a part of a balanced lifestyle.

Yes to the question, “should I care about your business?”

Perhaps you have a “basement story” of how everything started. Friends applauded the first batches and told you to seriously consider opening up shop. The first years were rough and then you found your stride. And the rest is history.

Do you still have that fire in your belly? Or is it more and more “just business” for you and the team?

Learn to Homebrew Day logo for excitement postSaturday, November 4, 2023, was “Learn to Homebrew Day,” an annual celebration of the hobby established in 1999 by the American Homebrewers Association. It’s an opportunity for beer lovers around the world to brew one of the official recipes or something of their own while encouraging others to learn more about the art, science and fun found in beer. The Association provides links to resources on making beer; pointers to local homebrew supply stores; discounts on membership; and materials for promoting your homebrew on social channels. Why don’t we see more support for do-it-yourselfers in all areas of craft beverage? State Guilds and Associations that help members create behind-the-scene events for brewers to encourage interest and participation in the craft beverage space?

Beer Archaeologist lecture at CU campus photo for excitement postLast Friday as a part of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Homecoming festivities (Go Buffs!) there was a Lecturer named Travis Rupp, The Beer Archaeologist, who presented, “Defining Beer in the Ancient World.” He walked the audience through the origins of beer (earliest evidence is fermented beverage and food storage at Raqefet Cave, Israel, in 11000 BCE); ancient references and labels; its use in politics and religion; and how terms and definitions have evolved over time. It was not only a great conversation about alcohol, but proof-positive that energy and passion around beer still exists on the small scale. Breweries like Avery Brewing Company and Dogfish Head/Boston Beer Company have brought ancient beers back to life commercially in small batches. Could recreating ancient beer, wine and whiskey styles make alcohol interesting again? Will it always be a niche offering, or could it bring drinkers [back] to the craft beverage category en masse?

What will it take for your team to engage drinkers? Starting with [re]igniting the spark inside us and extending that energy to your craft beverage offerings and guest experience? Still not easy, but important to consider as you and the team push hard to end the year on a high note and plan for a profitable 2024. We revisited a number of areas of your business where you may find reserve pockets of energy worth sharing with the world:

Reaching for a bottle photo for excitement postKnow the Trends: what are your drinkers asking for? Far too often we get stuck in a mindset of producing only what we would drink ourselves. And while that’s fine for your shift beverage, it’s not going to keep the lights on for your business. Subscribe to industry publications to see what everyone’s talking about, like flavors and low-to-no-alcohol entrants. Poll your customers on what offerings they’d like to see. Then plan a production calendar that balances your core, seasonal and innovation lineup.

Tell a Compelling Story: creating energy around your liquid starts with the brand story – the single line that captures the facts and feelings created by your business. To stand out in the crowded craft beverage industry, your goal should be to connect with drinkers emotionally. New customers will use the brand story to quickly decide whether to pursue further. The brand story also reinforces the promise your business has made to existing customers.

Consider a Collaboration: when you think “collaboration,” do you immediately think of popular craft beverage producers with which you’d enjoy partnering? Peers and friends in the area who could help draw attention to your geography? That’s certainly one approach to collaboration, resulting in seasonal, event-specific, anniversary, charitable and other themed beverages available for sale for a limited time. What other out-of-the box collaborations can you come up with to promote your business in a meaningful, relevant way?

Tasting room photo for excitement postImprove your Tasting Room: the liquid only plays a small part in filling your tasting rooms. Sure, you sell amazing beverages. Maybe even award-winning. However, that alone isn’t enough to achieve destination status. We’ve seen plenty of empty tasting rooms for highly-rated and -decorated craft beverage producers. As well as packed, standing room only spaces serving average drinks. Somewhere in-between there’s a sweet spot for your business to offer delicious, true-to-style drinks in a memorable, unique environment.

Introduce Non-Alcoholic Options: your tasting room may offer “non-alcoholic options,” like the usual suspects of waters, sodas, juices and teas. That may check the box at the surface level, offering something for everyone to drink. However, today’s adult drinker wants options, including flavorful, non-alcoholic versions of popular beer, wine, whiskey and other beverages.

Winery photo for excitement postShare your Space: drinkers don’t want to waste time trying a new tasting room, only to be disappointed with the experience. The most effective way to overcome disappointment is to help them see themselves in the photos you display on your website BEFORE they visit. Your website’s homepage is the ideal location for those visuals, so we recommend a rotating banner or video clip/virtual tour within one scroll of the top of the page. An Instagram or other social feed is a less polished, more organic way to accomplish the same thing with the benefit of being near real-time, attracting new drinkers at the literal point of decision.

Plan Events and Sampling: events are an incredible way to bring your craft beverage brand to life for new and existing customers. Not only does it showcase your product in a new environment – like a festival, pop-up or guerilla sampling activation – but it’s an opportunity to share a storyline with other, like-minded businesses. Events vary in size, scope and investment: from weekly Bingo or Trivia Nights to multi-day music festivals and everything in-between. There’s a lot more to cover here, which is why we’re excited to be talking events at CBP Connects Charleston on Wednesday, December 6, at 10am EST. CBP Connects presented by Arryved POS are workshops across the United States offering collaborative and educational opportunities for Craft Beer Professionals.

Title: Wake Up Your Events: Strategies for Winning New Guests

CBP Connects logo for events postAre your events tired? Do breweries down the street crush it while you’re fully stuck in the Trivia Thursday rut? Have you run out of ideas on how to draw a new crowd to your tasting room other than BOGOs and weekly food truck schedules? And do drinkers pre-game at your place, only to spend a bulk of their evening (and dollars) somewhere else? Time to wake up your events! Stop suffering from schedule sleepiness! We believe events are some of the most underutilized tools for bringing your brand story and personality to life. During this interactive workshop, attendees will brainstorm engaging themes and create a blueprint to maximize attendance. Workshop attendees will also have access to 10+ Complimentary Guides, with storytelling techniques to keep fans engaged and the proven tools to build momentum and capture new sales in this environment.


Interested in one of our presentations from October? We’re streaming our talks on beer festivals and Artificial Intelligence tools below, with links to materials and Guides.

Choosing or Creating Events Sample
Craft Beer Professionals Fall Virtual Conference: October 16-18, 2023
Title: What’s next after beer festivals [go extinct]?
We look at the troubling trends in attendance; reduced brewery support; and growing consumer concerns around overconsumption as prompts for a new festival model.
Presentation PDF
Guide: Waking Up Your Events
Artificial Intelligence Sample
Ontario Craft Brewers Conference: Niagara Falls, ON, Canada, October 25-26, 2023
Title: Would ChatGPT recommend your brewery to new drinkers?
We believe work done now to craft your unique brand story will position you for the eventuality that Artificial Intelligence will help new drinkers find your brewery. Plus we review tools to help streamline Sales and Marketing functions.
Presentation PDF
Guide: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Tools for Sales and Marketing Teams

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