What Makes your Brewery so Great?
As you probably noticed this last month, I focused on highlighting a brewery each week as part of everyone’s favourite month: Fe”Brew”ary, not to be confused with Jan”Brew”ary. I see how you might get the two confused, but stay with me folks. Fe”Brew”ary is nothing like Jan”Brew”ary. For instance, Fe”Brew”ary has fewer days in it. Get it?
While reflecting on the last month’s posts, I started thinking “What is it that makes a good brewery?” Is it simply just consistently producing great beer? Does it all come down to great marketing? How does customer service fit into the equation? What about the vision and leadership? It’s a question that we debate more than trying to discover what Donald Trump’s hair is made out of. This same question confuses and infuriates us more than not being able to find Waldo. Even after 30 years of searching that bastard seems to evade me!
The good news is I have finally figured it out. I am happy to end this madness and shed some light on the situation. It really only comes down to three major areas to narrow down what makes a brewery great: Beer, Brand, Consistency. By comparing these three simple metrics, we can come up with the perfect formula for identifying a great brewery. You ready? Let’s go!
How well do you do it?
The beer, perhaps the most important. At the very least, the beer has to be good. It doesn’t have to be great, but by the end of my visit, I should want to bring some home with me. So what your tasting room is a hoot and the locals stop in regularly to wet their proverbial whistle. If your Milkshake IPA isn’t bringing all the boys to the yard, everyone else’s is probably better than yours.
Being a marketer, I hold this one close to my drink (I’d say my heart, but we all know the drink is more important). Everything has to flow, the brand concept needs to be unique, your brand assets (Logo, tagline, message, values, etc) need to flow. From the sign on the wall to the attitude of the employees – everything needs to relate back to your central message. In a market that is increasingly flooded with new competitors, a brewery has to work hard to stand out. Without a succinct brand message that flows through your business more than the beer does, hard times are upon you my friends.
This one is more the execution of the top two factors.
Your beer needs to be consistent. Whatever your beer style, whatever the reason, only release beer that is at the level of quality you have already promised your customers. If that means dumping a batch, in the long run, this might work out better for you. Look at what just happened with Daagerad out of Burnaby, BC. They had to dump a bunch because of production issues and the way everyone has rallied behind them, I have no doubt that they have come out of this in a better position than before.
Your brand needs to be consistent. If your customers are confused about what you’re all about or what you bring to the table… I wouldn’t expect any wedding invites. People like to understand what they’re buying. A long-standing saying in the marketing world is “Your brand is your promise”. If the market can’t figure out what you are promising – or worse, you are breaking promises that you have made, you’re going to have a hard time creating loyal customers. This is one of the most simple things for a brewery to do, but for some reason, it’s one that isn’t being done a lot of the time. It’s not just breweries, many businesses have this same issue.
So there you have it folks. That’s how you can quickly separate the good from the bad from the ugly. Obviously, there are other metrics that us nerds will get into, but on the surface level, this is really all you need to know.
Who’s Doing it Right?
Here are a few of my favourite breweries doing everything right in the lower mainland (in my opinion).