OUGD601 — Screen Printing Labels

"If you caught our earlier feature on craft beer labels, you’d know that the main label decision for a craft brewer is choosing between pressure sensitive or cut & stack and then working through a million options from there. Not satisfied with such a simple either-or decision to start things off? Then it might be time to look at screen printing as an alternative option. We spoke with Robert Howerth, owner of Bottleprint, about craft brewers entering the brave new world of screen printing.

Essentially, the people at Bottleprint print the labels directly onto the bottle. The brewer sends the digital artwork for their label to Bottleprint, which burns screens for their labels. The brewer either ships their bottles or they use the bottles provided by the printer. Bottleprint then prints the bottles and ships them back.

You’ll notice this process foregoes the use of any paper material. An eco-conscious brewer might find the paperless story appealing, brand-wise, but the full picture is more complicated than that. Historically, the curing technology for the screen printing required more power to cure the inks when compared to the paper label, making an eco-advantage negligible. But Howerth noted the advent of UV curable inks for glass has changed that. A UV-cured, screen-printed label requires roughly the same amount of power to cure versus a paper label, according to Howerth. Printers in Europe have been using UV inks on glass for a decade, and it’s starting to be used by printers in the U.S. Bottleprint also uses organic inks that can print a vibrant, lead-free color in finer detail than ceramic ink. The company also requires much lower heat to cure its inks, so its carbon footprint is smaller.

“Some printers have been successful with it, while others have not,” Howerth admitted. “We’ve had great success with our testing and plan to start a UV print line in the near future.”

Bottleprint is new to the craft brewing game as the screen-printing option is normally preferred by a different clientele, but Howerth is excited for the possibilities of this growing segment as more and more brewers look for new ways to position their brands. Craft brewers looking to a screen-printed label are trying to ride the wave of the “martini culture,” and hit on the emotions stirred by brands in the spirit category like Absolut, Grey Goose, etc. Two craft examples being New Belgium Brewing’s Lip of Faith series and all of Stone Brewing Co.’s bottles.

“Our experience has been that this greater awareness is ultimately increasing market share of screen-printed labels. It may not be more than a few basis points, but it is increasing,” Howerth said. “It depends on how much the customer wants to spend on their packaging. Our set up costs are the same whether we print 1,000 bottles or 1 million bottles, so the price per unit drops dramatically as volume increases,” Howerth said. “In order for a smaller brewer to get noticed, they may choose to go with a screen-printed label to stand out from the sea of paper labels at your typical retailer. As they get noticed, their sales increase which will ultimately mean lower prices for their labels. A properly designed screen-printed label adds value to any brand, which will increase sales for any brewery.”

Depending on volume, a screen-printed label will usually cost 5 cents to 20 cents per label more than a paper label, according to Howerth. For those extra cents per label, the brewer will receive a more durable label with a completely different look compared to the norm. And it’s not just the look or cost structure that differs the screen print from the paper label.

“Turnaround will require more planning, due to somewhat slower printing speeds compared to paper labels,” Howerth said. The turnaround point is important as it holds the most potential for a misstep in the process. If a brewer chooses screen-printing and is late with artwork, the whole process will take that much longer."


OUGD601 — Beer Sales Trend Down - Taste or Marketing?

"Craft beer, as has been noted, is in a boom time that shows no signs of slowing. The beer industry as whole, however, is settling near panic mode. Each quarter shows another dip down in the overall beer drinking population. How can a tiny segment of the beer world be thriving while the overall market, most notably the Big Beer brands, sees its biggest downward trend?

The answer could be a flight to alcohol quality over quantity for the average consumer as the rise in the sale of liquors and spirits coincides with the rise in craft beer. According to the latest data from GuestMetrics, while spirits and wine both saw volume trends improve slightly through mid-August, beer trends deteriorated.

“Beer volumes were -4.3 percent during 1Q13, and then showed a relative improvement to -2.1 percent during 2Q13,” said Bill Pecoriello, chief executive officer of GuestMetrics LLC. “For the four weeks ending July 14, beer volumes softened to -3.8 percent, and during the four-week period ending Aug. 11, deteriorated even further to -5.3 percent, which is concerning, particularly in light of the slight improvement in underlying volume trends that spirits and wine both saw during the same period.”

More to the point, the GuestMetrics data shows that “premium light” volumes have been deteriorating the most, going from -8.9 percent through mid-June to -11.3 percent in mid-July, and now -12.6 percent in mid-August, which is its greatest volume contraction of the eight four-week periods thus far in 2013.

Could the answer also be marketing? Has the once powerful advertising power of Big Beer weakened, or at least lost its message on a new audience? Trade publication Advertising Age posted a great feature that delved into the issue:

When speaking with Paul Chibe, VP-U.S. marketing at A-B InBev, it’s best to tiptoe around the subject of the farting horse. Part of a suite of ads for Bud Light that ran several years ago under a previous marketing regime, it’s become an internal symbol at the brewer of what not to do in advertising. “It’s not going to build the category,” he said. The horse spot epitomized the brewer’s once-sophomoric ad humor, though the period also produced memorable ads such as the Budweiser frogs.

Former A-B Chief Creative Officer Bob Lachky — who was behind A-B classic “Wassup?!” — blames his ex-employer for overtesting. “It’s almost impossible to get a breakthrough idea through a system that may be overanalyzing in the pre-test stage,” he said. “Once in a while, you do have to take a chance.”

Mr. Chibe counters that the new regime is taking plenty of risks; it’s just using data to make smarter choices. “Everything that I am running on air is an ad that has been tested and qualified to drive purchase intent and persuasion,” he said. Mr. Chibe has put a premium on music-themed marketing, signing up artists like Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, as the brewer seeks to appeal to millennials with more aspirational ads and fewer frat-boy pranks.

Big brands are also resorting to packaging as a major marketing tool. Coors Light is pushing a “double-vented wide-mouth can” that the brewer says produces a smoother pour. Miller Lite, which launched in 1975 as the first successful mainstream light beer, will be repackaged in its original can design from Jan. 1 to March 15, harkening back to its glory days as the beer that “tastes great” and is “less filling.”


OUGD601 — Craft Beer Label Design Trends

"Do you need a paper or poly label? Estate look or high gloss? Laminated label or varnish or raised varnish?

All of the available label design options could drive a brewer to cracking one open instead of settling on the right mix of paper, coating, colors, etc.

We asked our label sources to talk about what trends they are seeing and what options they recommend.

Green Flash West Coast IPA by Oaks Printing. 
Green Flash West Coast IPA by Oaks Printing.

“We offer brewers a variety of cut and stack label substrates — 60# C1S, wet-strength, metallized and specialty papers to differentiate their look in the industry,” said Gwen Chapdelaine, marketing director with Fort Dearborn Company. “Other brewers will use a matte, gloss or a combination of both coatings to achieve a specialty look and feel.

“At the outset, our question is ‘what is the essence of your brand?’ What are you trying to convey from the promise of your brand? Is it more of a sepia look and feel? High, vibrant color? If they have a label already designed, we make recommendations on substrates — material that goes on to label that enhances the brand,” said Mike Lane, chief executive officer with Lofton Label. Lofton usually advises craft breweries to stay away from foils, stamping or embossing, which can add more of a wine look, and additional costs that might be in a wasted effort.

When it comes to substrates, some labels are designed to look crafty on uncoated paper, some are designed to be on shinny metalized paper and others use a coated sheet, according to Rob Stevens, vice president of sales for Oak Printing. Pressure sensitive can also be produced on a wide variety of materials such as metallic, clear and wine label stocks. Other quality issues to keep in mind, according to Stevens, are repeatable color reproduction, trimming and die-cutting accuracy in each print run.

“The design and creative aspect is really brand specific,” Stevens said. “There seems to be a trend with some brands to move toward a crafty look utilizing uncoated papers and matte finishes.”

Lane noted that trend as well — the stamp of a “craft” look for the craft beer. Because of that, Lane said brewers should be looking at other ideas to set their brand apart from the crowd.

“It’s a medium to convey brand information on, and while it may be an earthy or natural or a raw look you want, you don’t want to look like all other beers trying to create the same look,” Lane said. “We say spread it out a little bit and look at other options. There are a number of ways to use materials and design to convey the essence of your brand.”

Thirsty Dog paper label from Atlas Labels and Packaging
Thirsty Dog paper label from Atlas Labels and Packaging

Jack Wright, president of Atlas Labels and Packaging, said he’s seeing breweries get more creative with color and shapes. “We have seen an uptrend in matte finishes as opposed to gloss. We still recommend the gloss laminate,” he said.

Wright believes a common misstep brewers make in the design process is not choosing a full color option. He recommends a four-color process and pressure sensitive labels produced at a high density preferably with 150 line screens or higher.

“With only 10 seconds to get a consumer’s attention, they should be an attractive colorful label with the variety of beer easy to read,” he said. Atlas is continuing to add new products for breweries, such as keg collars, and works with more than 500 craft breweries.

Most label companies have a consultative or creative element for brewers unsure of what options to choose or the best visual path to venture down. Lane said about 25 percent of the time, Lofton Label is either starting from scratch or adding substantial value of design to the label itself for the craft brewing industry."


OUGD601 — How to Choose Among Your Craft Beer Label Options

"Craft beer label decisions go well beyond the graphics. The material, the finish, the cut, the adhesive and the adhesion method all need to be considered for utility, look and cost.

Inland Label hosted a two-part webinar to break down these options, and Craft Brewing Business listened in to see what Inland Chief Executive Officer Mark Glendenning had to say.

“Labels are that rare piece of advertisement seen 100 percent of the time. Try to bring innovation into play; tie it into your branding. Also, design to the container. Too often we see art designed flat and not to the container,” he said.

First label question facing a craft brewer: Do you want cut and stack, pressure sensitive or shrink sleeve?

According to Glendenning, Cut and stack labels are still the most widely used option in the industry because of the cost efficiencies gained ordering them in large quantities. But pressure sensitive, a mid-tier label in terms of cost, is gaining share, growing about 3 percent a year. Shrink sleeves, the highest cost option for a brewer, has shown a 6 percent pick up and is the fastest growing, but still significantly lags in overall market share among the three.

But why choose one over the other?

Inland Labels cut and stack
Cut and stack labels can be applied at a very high speed, up to about 1,500 bottles per minute, with either hot or cold glue.

Cut and stack

Cut and stack labels are versatile, with an entire library of paper and film options, and nearly an unlimited selection of shapes for both bodies and necks.

For application, the labeling machine usually consists of two circles: One that spins the labels through glue application and another that spins the bottles into the freshly glued labels for application.  The labels are removed from the first circle by gripper fingers and are placed onto oncoming bottles from the second circle, which then move through a series of brushes for smoothing and wiping down.

Cut and stack labels can be applied at a very high speed, up to about 1,500 bottles per minute, with either hot or cold glue. The downside here is the front-end capital expenditure for implementing such a labeling system.

Your labeling equipment will dictate the type of label you run, but new labeling equipment is making all of this easier, according to Glendenning.  Newer labeling equipment is modular, which will allow a unit to bolt onto a machine, run cold glue for a few days, and then unbolt for completely different run, like pressure sensitive.

Pressure sensitive

Pressure sensitive labels are a middle-cost option, but when taking into account application and adhesive expenses, they are often a more cost-effective option overall for craft brewers.

“With pressure sensitive design, get good glass with a consistently good surface. It’s a limited amount of adhesive to smooth across and it’s susceptible to voids and pits and problems on the glass. It’s more likely for opaque bottle labels to have wrinkles, and for clear bottles to have wrinkles and/ or bubbles.” — Mark Glendenning,  Inland chief executive 0fficer“Pressure sensitive are well-suited for entry-level labeling,” Glendenning said. The reason is the labels come with adhesion pre-applied to the substrate. Pressure sensitive labels are essentially stickers, thus removing the extra glue and application expenses.
Versatility of pressure sensitive labels in terms of shape, size, material and film is similar to cut and stack. Pressure sensitive costs more because the liner that winds up the roll makes it a six-layer product versus cut and stack’s four layers.

Pressure sensitive costs will also increase as speed increases. If you need more bottles per minute, you will then need a material for the liner that helps it withstand the added stress of the faster machine. If you have the machine in house, costs go up there as well as the machine will need better tension controls at higher speeds.

“With pressure sensitive design, get good glass with a consistently good surface,” Glendenning advised. “It’s a limited amount of adhesive to smooth across and it’s susceptible to voids and pits and problems on the glass. It’s more likely for opaque bottle labels to have wrinkles, and for clear bottles to have wrinkles and/ or bubbles.”

Shrink sleeve

Inland Labels_shrink sleeve
More risks and a higher cost, but shrink sleeves look pretty awesome when done right.

Shrink labels are, well, sleeves that shrink. The film is highly engineered with shrink-extraction properties in order to ensure that it shrinks onto the package in a predictable way. That amount development and production drives much of the cost.

Cans are the more friendly option for shrink sleeves because they are simple. Bottles have shoulders and lips and subtleties that create more careful shrinking considerations. Shrink sleeves have also been known to break glass from time to time. Application of a shrink sleeve is typically done by a specialist and not at a brewery.

The advantage of the shrink sleeve is the 360-degree branding opportunity.

“In markets outside of beer, companies have lowered their overall container costs by using a cheaper or less attractive container because the shrink sleeve is covering the entire container with branding,” Glendenning said.

The shrinking of the sleeve is brought on by heat, which is important to remember if you happen to be storing rolls of shrink sleeves. Stored in a hot location, by the time they are pulled out, they may already be shrunk.

Final thoughts

Don’t let the costs and graphics dictate your entire label decision. Every variable will affect the substrates, coatings and adhesives you will need.

Variables to consider:

The environmental impact of your label design. If you are concerned about sustainability, you will probably want a square cut label. Labels are based on squares. If you want a curved label with a curved neck, those are being cut from a square, sending the surrounding material into the trash.

The impact of the bottle on your design. “Design to the bottle so that the main image fits the entire front,” Glendenning said. “Also, do yourself a favor and have a label panel on the bottle. That will lower your costs and your labels will look better, too.”

The curvature of your bottle’s neck. Know where the overlap is for a full-wrapped neck. If you don’t have those measurements just right, the label ends won’t connect and it will look like a mistake.

The end use of your label. How is it being shipped and sold? Who is likely consuming it, and where? When? If you plan on this bottle going to a freezer or an ice bath, you will need a more aggressive adhesive.

The best way to navigate through all of these considerations is with consistent, quality communication with your label supplier throughout the design and procurement process.

“Get connected with us as early as possible in the process,” Glendenning said. “Can’t tell you how many problems are alleviated the sooner we can work with the designer on that label. Review type, bleed, cut tolerance, color specs. Review color expectations. Measure twice, cut once.”


OUGD601 — Leeds Wharf Chambers Beer Festival

Wharf Chambers Co-operative Club is proud to announce the return of its beer festival, showcasing some of the best in Yorkshire breweries. A hit in last year's heatwave, the event is going ahead on 19-20th September at the club on Wharf Street, Leeds offering a selection of 25 beers across the spectrum.

This smaller festival was pointed out to me by a friend of mine after the Leeds International Beer Festival. Being disappointed about the fact the breweries weren't actually at the bigger event, just pint pullers - I was positive that there would be a lot more of an intimate event here and there would be the right people to talk to.

As much as the atmosphere was very close-knit, friendly and welcoming. There were no breweries in sight, rather a trio of chaps stood behind a selection of wooden tables taking people's beer tokens in exchange for half-pints of whatever drink tickled their fancy.

I grabbed my first beer and took in the surroundings in a hope to spot someone with a branded shirt or anyone that might be directly involved with any of the breweries. As nice as the atmosphere was, there wasn't a single person there I could talk to.

It was a very nice evening with a couple of good mates and I can't really complain about an event full of spicy vegan food and incredible beers. The community was very alive at this event and it is nice to see how thriving the underground beer audience is in Leeds even at such a small event. It's just a pity that I still haven't been able to speak to anyone yet despite my efforts.

OUGD601 — Four Essentials To Effective Craft Beer Marketing

"As a craft brewer, marketing is one of your biggest challenges. I’m betting that, like almost all craft brewers, you didn’t get into this business because you were passionate about marketing. You got into this business because you’re passionate about brewing the best beer on Earth. (Good news though, this is step 1 to any successful marketing strategy. Unfortunately though, in an increasinlg competitive and crowded market, it’s only step 1.) There are many craft brewers that have great products but are struggling to succeed in business because they don’t know how to market effectively. As the number of craft breweries grows, it’s even more important that you successfully market differentiate your brewery and your beer. Traditional “big brand” marketing  and advertising that major brands (think  Budweiser and Coke) is extremely expensive and the return isn’t very obvious or good unless it’s done at a MASSIVE scale. The common marketing trait that successful craft beer brands is that they utilize guerrilla marketing strategies and tactics by focusing on stuff that actually produces returns.

Is the Marketing Baked In?

Even if you implement various ways of marketing, in the end it is the quality of your product that will speak for itself
Before we dig in to specific tactics though, it’s gut check time. What’s the first step to successful marketing for craft brewers? Great Beer. Brewing great beer is what I like to call “baking in the marketing” for craft brewers. If you have a great product, your customer acquisition costs will go down and the long term viability of your brewery will go way up. It’s expensive to convince people that crappy beer is good (ever wonder why Budweiser and similar brands spend so much on advertising….). If you’re making great beer, the marketing gets a whole heck of a lot easier. First time tasters are a lot more likely to keep coming back for more and,  if you tell your story effectively, (more on that to come) they’ll start tell all their friends. And that’s where the magic happens Like I said before, odds are good that you’re crushing the first step of effective craft beer marketing by brewing great beer. So, let’s get to the nitty gritty…

Point of Sale

Watch our product video to see if Our Jockey Box Cover would help you better market your beer at festivals, events and tastings.
Watch our product video to see if Our Jockey Box Cover would help you better market your beer at festivals, events and tastings.
The first step is the most obvious. It’s also arguably the most important. Distributors are always asking for POS pieces. In order for distributors to sell, they need the tools that they’re familiar with and that’s POS. While you can distribute yourself in your local market (as long as it’s legal in your state), that’s both time and resource intensive and as you grow you’ll need to move to working with distributors which means POS investment. We recognized the importance of point of sale pieces and designed a jockey box cover for use at tastings, festivals, and other events.

Craft a Compelling Story

One of the key marketing advantages you have as a craft brewer is your genuine passion about your beer and your company. People relate to this and people buy from brands that they trust and that they can relate to. As Simon Sinek relates in his book, Start with Why, people make buying decisions based on emotion, not logic. This especially true with products like craft beer – authentically conveying your a compelling story about your beer doesn’t just sell beer, it creates loyal customers and brand advocates.

Start a Conversation

Once you’ve crafted a compelling story, you have to get these conversation started though so people can learn about your story. In the early days of most breweries, this is done in person. That means beer festivals, tastings, off-premise events, and on-premise events and promotions. These aren’t just opportunities to distribute your product.  They’re opportunities to tell your story and get others involved in your story.

Talk with the “influencers” & craft-a-compelling-story

A compelling story that shows your passion about your product increases the appeal of your product
While starting the conversation with as many people as possible sounds like the right strategy, you have limited time and resources (and a lot of those are going into brewing great beer!) so you need to focus on having those conversation with the right people. As consumers, we’re MUCH more likely to take a recommendation from someone we know personally. No form of marketing is more effective than a personal recommendation from someone that we trust. Have you ever spent hours online researching a product, reading reviews, reading the spec sheet and figuring out the perfect choice – only to have someone you trust tell you afterwards that you should have bought the competitors’ product instead? Even if you know that your friend has no qualifications or hasn’t done nearly as much research as you, I bet you still second guessed yourself. This incredible trust that we invest in people we know is something that you can leverage as a craft brewer by targeting people that are “mini-influencers.” These are people that are seen amongst friends, family and colleagues as “the craft beer guy (or gal).” People trust them to make those kinds of recommendations. These are the types of people that you can reach at tastings, festivals, on-premise promotions. You have an opportunity at these events not just to get your beer infront of them, but to involve them in your brewery’s story. Support and encourage their passion for craft beer. Involve them in your brand with brewery tours and behind the scenes looks. To many craft beer aficionados, your story and your brewery’s story is truly inspiring. Many of these afficionados probably have had dreams of starting a craft brewery themselves. If you can make them feel like they’re a part of the brand then you’ve not only gained a customer, you’ve gained a brand advocate that will go out and grow your brand for you.

Going Viral – Taking it Online

We’re at an amazing point in history in terms of how technology lets us tell our story. Once you’ve crafted your story and mastered telling it in person, modern technology lets you do it on a massive scale. The internet and tools like blogging and social media lets you tell your story online at incredibly low cost. One of the best examples of this in the craft beer world is Dogfish Head and their founder – Sam Calagione.
For each beer they have, they’ve produced a video of what goes into it. It’s apparent the passion and thought that has gone into every single one. You don’t need fancy production teams to do this. You need a smart phone and some passion for your product. I bet you’ve got both on your person right now!"


OUGD601 — Tap Handles And Their Importance

"After a long day of writing about craft beer, the Craft Brewing Business crew walked over to one of its favorite Happy Hour bars to start drinking some craft beer. I surveyed the taps and noticed one that really stood out – it looked like a can actually. I asked what it was – it was the Gubna from Oskar Blues, an Imperial IPA. I was not in the mood for a 10-percenter, but I was already too interested to turn back. I ordered it, and it was just outstanding. Who knows what I would have ordered if that tap handle didn’t stand out. Thanks, tap handle!

For some brewers, the tap handle becomes their calling card. For others, the tap handle is a traveling sales man. An intriguing, unique, descriptive or clever tap handle could mean a couple more pulls a week, which when spread out over the year, and in each of your locations, could be the spring board that changes the scope of your brewery or allows you to hit the numbers you hoped. Conversely, that dull, nondescript or unattractive handle could send your numbers in the other direction.

Let’s do a quick dive into the ins and outs of tap handle ordering and cover a couple trends that are out there in the market right now, competing with your tiny traveling sales team.

I’m ready to ship some beer, how long is this going to take?

Whoa, whoa, whoa – hold on there, guys and gals. Ordering a set of tap handles can take a bit of time, especially if you are looking to fancy it up. Take Alexander Global Promotions (AGP), for example, which specializes in three-dimensional handles. Malcolm Alexander, president of AGP, lays it out like this:

“A picture can say 1,000 words, and 3-D designs can communicate at a greater multiple than a decal. Keep the ‘craft’ top of mind – show innovation and not conformity.” — Malcolm Alexander, Global Alexander PromotionsAlexander assigns a design team to work with you, and then you have to work through that process – either by giving exact details of what you are looking for by workshopping some concepts out with the team (that’s what they are there for, after all). After that idea is tweaked and OK’d, a 3-D Mud Mold is created. Once that Mud Mold is created and approved, the team provides a final painted sample. After approval of THAT sample, production starts.
“There is a stage where we communicate regularly and adjust the mold to meet your needs,” he said. “Three-D work requires the contact and feedback to generate the piece you want. There is no canned solution – it is all creative design.”

All told, Alexander says to provide 110 to 120 days from the start of the process until delivery to the brewery.  AGP typically works with medium to larger scale brewers and generally starts orders at the 200 tap handle mark on up to 5,000-plus per order.

Andy Bauer, national sales for AJS Tap Handles reported a similar timeline, saying the production run itself can take anywhere from six to eight weeks, and a lot of that varies depending on the complexity of the order. That order complexity also changes the minimum order quantity at AJS, which ranges from 20 to 100, depending on the customization of the final design.

What do we mean by complex? What are my options here?

Tap handle suppliers all differ in the materials they use, and you’ll want to take all of those decisions into consideration when creating the overall look and message of your final product. AJS, for example, primarily uses wood, urethane and metal but does allow for the use of other materials if necessary, like using acrylic parts for shields and top caps. Bauer breaks them down:

Wood is versatile and can be used for a lot of different applications (handles, signs, taster trays, chalkboards). Cost is usually a little lower; it is lighter weight. If stained then the beauty of the wood stands out. Limitations would be a very ornate design or a figural piece. You also can have issues if the end-user does not maintain properly.

Urethane is great for very detailed pieces that can be done with a mold, especially figural pieces or something that cannot be turned from wood. Strength is a positive of the overall material that can last a very long time. Limitations can be the cost, and if the piece has small thin pieces sticking out, there can be breakage when mishandling.

Metal is a very appealing right now because people love the industrial look. Strength of the material is a positive as well as the magnetic property which customers like so they can use an interchangeable magnetic decal. Limitations are usually the weight and sometimes cost depending on the design.

Because it specializes in 3-D molds, AGP sticks with poly stone, which Alexander says is malleable in design and is able to provide great detail in 3-D – including the look of wood grain or texture. The handles are up to 14 in. and will generally be less than 1 lb in weight.

Wrap this all up for me

Think back on my personal tale in the lead. Science, creativity and market know-how went into that handle and, in turn, drove my decision to buy a product of which I had no prior knowledge. That’s one small anecdote of a curious and satisfied customer, but it’s a universal story that repeats every day across the country. The value of the tap handle is built by these seemingly arbitrary transactions over its lifetime. Add all of them up and the final tally looks a little less arbitrary. Be sure your tap handle decision-making isn’t either."


OUGD601 — Leeds International Beer Festival

Every year — the Leeds International Beer Festival is hosted at the town hall to collectively bring together amazing beers from all across the UK, Europe & America.

The branding this year was designed by a favourite illustrator of mine Drew Millward and the website was designed and built by Passport & Refresh.

After seeing the poster in the city centre I looked up the website and found the list of breweries that were taking part this year and I was lucky to find a lot of the breweries that I have taken an interest in.

I thought this would be a good way of speaking to the people behind the beer in first person at the same time as taking in the aesthetics and marketing ploys from all of the different breweries on site.

I thought of a series of questions to ask each of the breweries I have taken an interest in. Of course I wouldn't limit myself to just those if I found any other interesting ones around.

1 — Amongst the masses of different people who love beer, who is your beer for?

2 — How do you spread the word to those people about your beer?

3 — How would you sell me your beer? What is special about it and why do I want it?

4 — Is there a way you make that clear in any of your marketing? (packaging, advertisements, etc)

5 — How does your packaging capture your audience's eye before they purchase it? Is it familiar, different, heavily dependent on typography, illustration, colour? And why was this chosen to represent your beer?

6 — Is there a noticeable struggle of competition against tasteless beer giants such as Carling, Carlsberg, etc? If not, what is a brewery's primary struggle or weakness?

I also thought it would be the perfect opportunity to talk to beer fanatics too so I put together a beer lovers' survey too.

1 — What is your favourite beer at this moment in time?

2 — What made you first try that beer?

3 — Were you familiar with the brewery that made the beer before you tried it? If so — How did you know of that brewery?

4 — Have you since tried any of their other beers or developed a brand loyalty with the brewery?

5 — What is your opinion on the brewery’s image, branding and marketing? (their bottle/can designs, pump clips, logo, website, promotional materials, etc).

6 — Would you say that a brewery’s image or the way they present themselves is quite a big factor in deciding if you want to try it or not?

To my disappointment — the people pulling pints at the festival didn't have a clue about their marketing side of things and were literally there to provide thirsty Leeds. I was advised by several to send it as an email to the breweries and the correct person would get back to me.

Other than that, there were several things I learned from asking punters to take the survey during the festival. People are at a beer festival to get hammered and have a good time with mates, not get pestered by a weedy student to answer surveys. There were few people to actively take part and even act enthusiastic about it and the were usually blokes waiting for their other half to finish in the toilet.

These were my results / answers.

OUGD601 — Breweries of Interest

Leeds Brewery — Leeds

"Leeds Brewery was established in June 2007 and is the largest brewery in the city.

We have developed a reputation as one of the best and most consistent new breweries in the north of England, and within our team we have a wealth of experience which ensures that every aspect of the brewing process comes up to our highest standards.

We currently brew on a 20 barrel (6,000 pint) brew house and have a weekly capacity of 70,000 pints. We produce four permanent cask beers; Leeds Pale, Yorkshire Gold, Leeds Best and Midnight Bell which are complemented by a range of quarterly seasonal beers brewed throughout the year. We also have four bottled products; Leeds Best, Yorkshire Gold, Midnight Bell and Hellfire, as well as our draught Leodis Lager.

Using only the finest possible ingredients – choicest hops, select British malted barley, and our unique Yorkshire yeast – we are confident that our beers are some of the finest ales available. Coupled with our contemporary and instantly recognisable branding, we think our beers make a valuable and popular addition to any bar.

Our beers are available to customers directly from the brewery, through SIBA DDS, and via most large and medium sized wholesalers and pub companies."

Wharfebank Brewery — Wharfedale

"Wharfe Bank Brewery was founded in April 2010 in a converted paper mill on the banks of the River Wharfe just outside the village of Pool in Wharfedale and a couple of miles from the local market town of Otley. We sit on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, within easy reach of Harrogate, York, the North Yorkshire Moors as well as Leeds and the towns of West Yorkshire.  By combining tradition with technology, experience with innovation and passion with patience, we have created a core range of wonderfully unique beers that have gained a reputation and following both locally and further afield.

We supply our core range and special guest beers throughout the North of England and beyond. Our beers are distributed personally within the free trade where possible by the Wharfe Bank team, and using the excellent SIBA Direct Delivery Scheme our core ales are able to reach many drinkers in the northern area. We also distribute to national pub companies, and supply cask ale specialist wholesalers, where our quality is always maintained."

Northern Monk Brewing Co — Leeds

"We are “common” brewers and brew for the love of beer.  However our approach to this task is with the same tangible passion, dedication and community focus of Monks that have brewed ales for thousands of years. In an industry now dominated by mass produced product manufactured by faceless corporations for profit, not taste; we brew beer we love, with love, in the North.  Our beers are brewed to excite, to taste, to remember, to experience and to savour.  We focus on styles of beer that originated in the UK but take an open approach to techniques, ingredients and dispense."

Magic Rock Brewing — Huddersfield

"At Magic Rock we are committed to making a full range of modern, flavourful, hop forward & ‘big’ beers using the best available ingredients and techniques for drinkers unwilling to compromise on flavour. This uncompromising attitude runs through all our beers, where we seek flavour and complexity whilst striving for balance and drink-ability.

We intend to deliver a taste experience to our customers which is magically removed from the mundane. To excite and enthrall and to educate people to the flavour possibilities of beer. We understand that you don’t have time for bland, flavourless beers because neither have we.

Our beers are available in cask and keg because we think that different dispense suits different beers. We also bottle our beers because we like drinking them at home.about magic rock brewing

We make beer the same but different, conjured for flavour; beer which will inspire and delight but above all taste great."

Beavertown Brewery — London


Beavertown was set up in December 2011 by Logan Plant in the kitchen of Duke's Brew and Que, in De Beauvoir, Hackney, London. The brew house, situated opposite the two Smokers of the BBQ restaurant, runs at 4BBL per brew (650 litres - 1150 pints). 

In March of 2013 we moved out of our home at Duke's Brew & Que and into our new brew site at Unit 4 Stour Road, Fish Island, London E3 2NT. Now with a little bit more space we can push the boundaries of brewing and get more beer out to the thirsty masses. 

In May 2014 we moved to our new 11,000sqft space in Tottenham Hale. We upgraded to a 30BBL (50HL) brew house. We also sat our 'heartbeat' 4BBL kit next to Big Beaver to constantly push our Alpha's, experiments and minds!"

Camden Town Brewery — London

"Camden Town Brewery€™s story began in the basement of The Horseshoe in Hampstead; where co-founder Jasper Cuppaidge began brewing his own beer. The operation then moved down the road to the railway arches in Camden Town. A few years on they converted seven old Victorian arches and installed a beautiful modern brewery, made by Braukon in Germany.

Though the bar only opens Thursday to Saturday they have already established a strong standing with London beer connoisseurs, boasting some of the most advanced brewing equipment of any UK micro-brewing company. The impressive range is guaranteed to satisfy any pallet, from their hoppy pale ale to the deeper and stronger stouts. A real selling point is the personal touch. London pubs are riddled with multinational beer companies whose products have travelled thousands of miles to get to the glass. Contrary to this, all of Camden Town Brewery€™s bartenders were involved in the brewing process and all of the beer is produced on-site."

The Five Points Brewing Co — London

"The Five Points Brewing Company is a new brewery based in the heart of Hackney, East London.

We brew beer that is unfiltered, unpasteurized and full of flavour – the sort of beer we enjoy drinking and we hope you enjoy drinking, too.

We are a small, independent brewery, and we brew and package all our beer ourselves, on site here in East London.  After many months of recipe development and trial brewing, we brewed our first batch of Five Points Pale Ale on our full commercial brewhouse on 9th March 2013.  Our flagship Five Points Pale is one of our core range of three beers: Five Points Pale, Hook Island Red and Railway Porter.  All three are available in keg (served refreshingly chilled), cask (traditional ‘handpull’), and bottle.

We chose to be based in Hackney because the owners and founders live in Hackney, and it was important for us to be based in our local community.  We strive to be a socially responsible business and employer, contributing to the community around us.  We are a Living Wage employer, we run an apprenticeship scheme for 18-24 year olds in Hackney, we source our energy from 100% renewable sources, and we are committed to reinvesting a 5% of our profits in local charities and community projects."

Brewdog — Edinburgh

"BrewDog claims to be Scotland's largest independently-owned brewery producing about 120,000 bottles per month for export all over the world. It was founded in 2007 by James Watt and Martin Dickie. The brewery at the Kessock Industrial Estate in Fraserburgh produced its first brew in April 2007. The company moved premises to nearby Ellon in 2012, and the Fraserburgh site will be used as a brewing laboratory for experimental beers."

The Great Yorkshire Brewery — Cropton

"We're right chuffed with our beers. Born & Brewed in Yorkshire, it's real honest beer made with proper Yorkshire Watter, British Barley, Malt & Yeast with whole hops and nowt else."


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