Creative Beer Events

Marketing & Branding Through Creative Beer Events

Between the seminars I’ve attended recently at the California Craft Beer Summit and my personal experiences, building a stronger brand and brand awareness by hosting your own beer events is a golden ticket. There’s no doubt that beer events are popular, but today’s beer drinkers are looking for something more unique than your typical beer festival. I’d like to explore some ideas on how to create more unique experiences that will draw more customers in and make your events more appealing.

Let’s first explore why creating your own events is a good idea for your brand and marketing. Hosting your own events will create the opportunity for customers to become more intimate with your beer and brand. Attendees get a change of scenery from your typical taproom experience and get to experience your beer in new ways. I found some interesting facts from a 2014 Eventbrite survey that helps break down the value of beer events.

After attending an event, attendees are more likely to visit a brewery that participated in the event or buy their beer in the future.

A survey of 5,000 food and drink festival attendees found that after a beer event, 99% of participants will recommend your brand to a friend

  • 90% of participants are inspired to visit your brewery later on
  • 85% of them will look you up online
  • 40% will sign up for your email newsletter
  • 49% will buy four beer right then and there
  • 99% will recommend your brand to a friend later on

Source: Eventbrite

Creating unique beer events, experiences, and marketing opportunities

For more metro areas, it’s likely that your scene is saturated with typical beer tasting events. You’ve been to them. Table after table of jockey boxes and lines to sample beer. Maybe there is some shitty band that you won’t stop and listen to, and likely some sort of food carts with decent enough food to keep you drinking. Let’s break that mold, reach new customers, create better experiences, and put your brand on a pedestal.


Your local beer festival might be at a park, downtown square, or some event center. Hosting your event at a location that is unique will create more interest in what you are doing. Your typical taproom or brewery location would be expected, but you might be able to use other spaces at your brewery. Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB) hosted a Salmon-Safe IPA Festival and utilized areas of their parking lot tied to their warehouse that is not typically open to public. By using their warehouse, attendees were invited to the spaces where they store barrels and pallets of cans, getting an inside look where typically only employees tread.

You can also make good use of locations outside of your brewery. Consider looking at local hot spots, unique outdoor spaces, art exhibits or studios, funky warehouse spaces, etc. We will talk about partnering with other businesses or organizations, but those folks might have a new and interesting space to use as well.

Partnerships and Cross Promotion

You want to reach new customers and get a larger reach. You also want to strengthen your brand by showing your customers what you’re passionate about. Through the events that I have created around beer branding, I have been able to utilize partnerships and experiences of various sorts that resulted in sold out events. Let’s take a look at a couple of case studies and more ideas on partnerships and the possibility of cross promotion.

Rough Draught – A live beer label design event

This was a beer and design event that I created as part of Design Week Portland (DWP). Four designers paired with four breweries to create one-off beers. During the event, attendees sampled and submitted names for each beer. After a name was selected, the designers then had 90 minutes to create a label from scratch for that beer, live at the event. While the designers were working, Harvey Shepard from Oh Beautiful Beer gave a great presentation on beer label history and current label trends.

Besides being a very unique experience involving beer brands, I was able to tap into some great partnerships. DWP has a very large audience and involves over 200 unique design events in one week. This event was highlighted and featured by DWP along with being listed in their events itinerary, which resulted in more exposure. By partnering with local breweries that people love, attendees knew that they would be getting some great beer. Harvey Shepard also has made himself well known in the beer and design industry, so his name was also a great addition to creating bigger appeal for this event.

HUB – Salmon-Safe IPA Festival

HUB is a B corporation that has a huge focus on sustainability and the environment. In the past, they have created beers in partnership with Patagonia, which has a big focus on environmental and social responsibility. As part of their sustainability efforts, HUB partners with hop and grain growers that utilize Salmon-Safe farming practices. HUB partnered with the Salmon-Safe organization to create a list of breweries that used these special ingredients and also had a focus on the environment. During the event, HUB created an hour-long set of panel talks that featured brewers and growers that discussed the importance of using salmon-safe ingredients.

By partnering with the salmon-safe organization and with breweries that utilize these ingredients, HUB was able to reinforce their brand and also reach customers that care about the environment. You can imagine that each of the participating breweries care deeply about this, and also were pushing out this event to their audiences. No doubt that the participating hop and grain farmers were also promoting this event to their audience.

Hopefully by highlighting these case studies, you are able to get an idea of how beneficial partnerships, cross promotion, and unique beer event experiences can be. You may have a limited reach with your customers on social or email lists, so using cross promotion can be an excellent way to reach bigger audiences. Partnering with organizations that you align with will also reinforce your brand, and hopefully do the same for them. Do you support local charities, non-profits, or programs? Why not collaborate with them for a special event?  Maybe there are local artists or filmmakers you can create an event around. Create special experiences that are not typically “beer festival” by hosting beer and food pairings that promote local chefs and breweries.

I’d love to hear what kind of special events you are doing! I’ve also done a lot of event branding marketing collateral, so feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need any help promoting your events!