The 21 best craft beer sales and marketing ideas in 2021

Sara G. Norris

The creativity of craft breweries is not limited to their beers. Each year we catalogue the inventive, fun, inspiring and possibly insane marketing ideas breweries promoted, and now that NFTs are a thing, craft beer marketing in 2021 entered new planes of reality. Here are the events, promotions and sales gimmick that stood out to us this year.

We’re down with NFTs!

Alternate Ending Beer Co. licenses Bored Ape Yacht NFT for limited release can

Alternate Ending Beer Co. released a beer can with a licensed Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. Licensing a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT for a limited-edition beer can label was the brainchild of Evan Hechtand Ross Cohen, co-founder of The Lifetime Value Company, who presented the idea to Alternate Ending Beer Co.’s Scott Novick, and Alexis Castellano. Novick and Castellano recognized the enormous potential of utilizing a Bored Ape for commercial use and a fun way to collaborate and merge the world of craft beer and NFTs. “We look at our beer cans as not just a can but as a canvas for amazing art, and a vessel for the love that we put into our beer,” Novick said. “Featuring the Bored Ape NFT on the can is just the next iteration of that!”

Denver Beer Co. auctioned a ‘Beer For Life’ NFT. For real.

Denver-Beer-Co-Gold-Coin-NFT-Back

Denver Beer Co. announced the release of an NFT entitled “Beer For Life” — a one-of-one spinning digital gold coin with the company logo on one side and the words “Beer For Life” on the other side. The winner of an auction is entitled to FOUR FREE BEERS each day at any Denver Beer Co taproom indefinitely. The auction was open for two weeks and the NFT was granted to the highest bidder. The owner of the Denver Beer Co. “Beer for Life” NFT will be able to present their digital coin at any Denver Beer Co taproom location in order to receive up to four free beers each day to enjoy and share with friends.

7 Bridges Brewing Co. and Trace Network Labs tie NFTs to rare craft beer release

trace-network-labs

Look, I still don’t really get this one, but I don’t want to look out of touch so here goes: Trace Network Labs wants to “create a gateway that allows brands and customers to carry their lifestyle goods into any metaverse.” They teamed with Vietnamese craft beer maker 7 Bridges Brewing Company to release a craft beer NFT. The craft beer NFT series, called iNFTy, has been brewed with a special limited edition recipe and will be presented as 99 digitized craft beer NFT bottles, each with a unique 3D object artwork backed by its “reverse avatar,” a cellared physical incarnation of the original artwork.

Buy this beer because it has a cool thing!

Atlas Brew Works’ bottom of can message contest

Ninja Sauce Atlas Brew Works

I like teas that have little mantras under the cap or on the paper tag and those jokes Molson has (had?) when I would accidentally find myself drinking a Molson. Anyway, the team at Atlas Brew Works has been printing messages on the bottom of their cans for a while – normally something related to the beer or a timely world event the brewers want to highlight. On its own, a cool little thing for people to discover or an Easter egg for fans to check out each time. To get the public excited for the release of its seasonal beer, Ninja Sauce, Atlas had fans vote on the message that would run with it.

WeldWerks Brewing’s Golden Ticket promo for 6th anniversary

WeldWerks-6th-Anniversary-for-Web-001

WeldWerks Brewing Co. celebrated six years in business this March, and did so with everyone’s favorite Wonka-style gimmick: a Golden Ticket promotion. That alone pleases us, but the specific details and rules of the promotion made it the idea of the week. While supplies last, customers can pick up $30 WeldWerks anniversary six-packs featuring the brewery’s greatest hits, as well as fan favorites such as Advanced Fluid Dynamics, Blueberry Cobbler Berliner and Froot Camp: Strawberry Banana. Custom glassware and commemorative masks can be purchased separately. Anniversary six-packs purchased at the taproom may have a Golden Ticket that will unlock one free bottle of every WeldWerks Barrel-Aged Stout release for the year.

CraftHaus Brewery’s scratch ‘n sniff cans

mango-scratch-and-sniff

Beer buying and drinking is a full-on sensory experience that starts with the packaging / branding catching our line of sight. Well, why stop there, says CraftHaus Brewery. The Las Vegas brewery’s newest creation, Way to Man-Go, is hitting the shelves this weekend with a groovy throwback ’80s design that they are enhancing with (maybe the first ever?) scratch ‘n sniff sticker on the can. The ever-creative CraftHaus worked with Express Labels on printing these — it is a translucent flurry that is applied to the label. The smell will last 6 months before it begins to fade. They also worked with Victoria Hart over at Pink Kitty Creative on the design.

Come buy our beer!

Market Garden’s ‘Beer and the Shot’ promotion

Market-Garden

Often imitated but never duplicated (in my eyes), Cleveland’s Market Garden Brewery was the first brewery to promote a beer deal for customers who got the Covid vaccine (yes, that was still somehow, impossibly, just this year). Here’s why Market Garden’s was the best: First, the name: “Beer and the Shot.” Simple, effective, timely. Second, it is encouraging a public good, while also being part of the celebration of our way out of this pandemic mess. Last but not least, what puts it over the top is that 10 cents sale. For the non-Clevelanders out there, 10-Cent Beer Night is an infamous moment in Cleveland sports history, in which the Cleveland Baseball Team, desperate to get fans to see the struggling team in the 1970s, sold beer for 10 cents. Mayhem ensued.

Crooked Hammock Brewery’s Holidays at the Hammock

Crooked Hammock North Myrtle Beach

We enjoy themed events, and Crooked Hammock Brewery in North Myrtle Beach have a really great lineup of holiday-themed events running all month — from magical snow showers and gingerbread, to a winter beer celebration and a rockin’ New Year’s Eve party. Now, as an Ohioan, do I somewhat hate them for celebrating snow near the beach in such a way while we are bundled up and miserable? Without a doubt. But that’s also what makes it such a great niche concept.

LUKI’s Dark Circus, featuring a traveling circus

LUKI-Brewery

Maybe it’s just because we are the target weirdos who dig stuff like this, but LUKI Brewery’s Dark Circus makes the list again with this awesome brewery event. The Arvada-based brewery invited traveling circus The Circus Foundry to its brewery for back-to-back evenings featuring mystic readings of the future from tarot and palm readers, dazzling light shows, and cursed mysterious performances. Guests enjoyed after-dark illuminated juggling, a gravity-defying crystal orb, mind-warping LED manipulations and visits from dark spell-casting sorceresses and magical warlocks.

Four Peaks teams with U.S. Steinholding Association for official state-wide contest

stein-holding

At the Oktoberfest celebration in Munich, Germany, there’s a tradition known as Masskrugstemmen, or a stein-holding contest. Four Peaks Brewing Co. partnered with the U.S. Steinholding Association (yes, that’s a real thing) to bring the Masskrugstemmen to Arizona. With more than a dozen qualifying events at bars and restaurants across the state—including three separate events at Four Peaks’ 8th Street location in Tempe—fans will have the chance to compete in official, sanctioned stein-holding contests.

Interact with us and maybe win something!

Ninkasi’s dog photo contest

ninkasi-dog-photo-contest

Dogs are still kings and queens of internet content, so no reason for Ninkasi Brewing to stop its great dog photo contest. Just sharing dog pics on social is enough to be cool, but the specific photo prompt seals it as the marketing idea of the week: “Does your dog embody the personality of one of our beers? Show us with a photo and win sweet prizes.” The prizes were indeed pretty sweet, with first place being a $250 Visa gift card, plus a page in the upcoming 2022 Dogs of Ninkasi Monthly calendar. Also includes a Ninkasi collar, leash, and trail buddy bowl.

To enjoy DuClaw Brewing’s special edition Unicorn Farts beer, you’ll need to stick your poop in the mail

DuClaw Unicorn Farts can beer 1

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and Maryland’s DuClaw Brewing Co. caught our collective attention with its Give a Crap Challenge. Of course, it’s not just DuClaw. The brand is teaming up with the Colon Cancer Foundation, Squatty Potty (the original toilet stool that helps you poop better), Everlywell (a home health test provider), CraftShack (an online marketplace and delivery service for specialty beers) and Diablo Doughnuts (a Baltimore doughnut shop famed for its fruity cereal Unicorn Fart pastry, which looks rather delish).

Portland’s Great Notion launches sweet lumberjack video game

Take a sneak peek at the Climb, the first of Great Notion’s interactive games on the app.

Great Notion Brewing launched its app last year, and it’s a beaut. The idea here is to get customers to order Great Notion beer directly from the app for pickup or home beer delivery in Portland and shipping within the great state of Oregon (and now beyond). The GN App is also an excellent mobile application to explore the virtual world of Great Notion — its beer brands, label characters, latest drops and the ability to earn points and move up in the Timbercrew. In its third iteration, the app includes a lumberjack-themed video game, expanded shipping and delivery zones, gifting options and overall improved functionality and speed.

Buy more than just random beers!

Athletic Brewing’s Stork Subscription sends nine months of NA beer with cool kid gifts to new parents

The Stork Subscription from Athletic Brewing will bring smiles to thirsty new or expecting parents via monthly shipments of non-alcoholic craft beer delivered directly to doors. “Since we started the brewery, we’ve challenged ourselves to grow with our drinkers,” said Athletic Co-Founder Bill Shufelt. “And as our community evolves, we do, too.” Bill, who will become a new parent himself this summer, is excited to share Athletic with new drinkers everywhere, some who thought they might have to give up beer altogether as they became parents. Also very cool: Along with the monthly delivery, parents will receive gifts for their new pint-sized person.

LUKI Brewery’s quarterly box of goodies

LUKI brewing box of goodies

We point to the pandemic and stay-at-home orders for “changing everything,” but honestly so many ideas that have emerged feel like back-to-basics concepts that work in any era. LUKI Brewery’s new Circus-in-a-Box is one of these. It is a quarterly box of goodies that brings the brewery’s whimsical elements straight into your living room. Each quarter, the Arvada, Colo., brewery will present seasonal boxes filled with fun-inspired curations and deals from local vendors.

All about that brand awareness!

Rogue Ales gets pro skateboarders to teach sweet tricks at its hometown skatepark

Rogue Ales and Spirits’ Dreamland American Lager is brewed in partnership with Dreamland Skateparks to benefit community skateparks across this grand land of ours. Proceeds from the beer go directly towards building skateparks in local communities. To help promote these easy going, warm weather beers and its skateboarding initiatives, Rogue released as series of YouTube videos with local pros like Kowalski and Cody Lockwood (from Portland) teaching skateboarding tricks at the Newport Skatepark — from crail slides to front blunts.

Yuengling teams up with DraftKings to market around college sports

Yuengling Truck Hauling Beer

Your interest in what D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. is doing is probably low, but its collaboration with DraftKings was a solid concept. The agreement marks the brewery’s first-ever fantasy sports collab and merges the love of sports and beer (and maybe sometimes pizza, but that’s unrelated) through year-round events, contests and prizes. To kick off the deal, DraftKings named Yuengling as the exclusive sponsor of its official “Basketball Tournament Bracket Challenge.”

We’re more than just beer!

Fifty West Brewing teams with Fleet Feet to open a running shop at the brewery

fifty west fleet feet

Cincinnati’s Fifty West Brewing teamed up with a local running shop, Fleet Feet Cincinnati, to open a fourth location at Fifty West Brewing Company. The addition of a running store to Fifty West feels natural, as the Cincinnati brewery continues to grow their burgeoning active-lifestyle campus in Columbia Township. “Our goal at Fifty West is to bridge the gap between our community and the brewery,” said Bobby Slattery, Founder of Fifty West. “Our space is so much more than a place to drink. It’s a destination for friendly recreation, a restaurant to bring your family, an easy meet-up location for local groups and organizations, a place to host your birthday, and so much more.”

Odell Brewing opens gorgeous wine bar next to brewery to highlight its bottled and canned vino

ODell Brewing OBC Wine bar

Odell Brewing Co. opened The OBC Wine Project’s Taproom, located adjacent to the Fort Collins brewery. I think this counts as a marketing concept because the OBC Wine Project launched in June of 2020 with a line of four canned wines distributed across Colorado. Since the package launch, The OBC Wine Project has been busy making various small batch wines and working on the construction of the winery’s taproom. What better way to spread the word and encourage the sales of both products than by co-locating different venues while also offering two distinct experiences/vibes for different sets of customers and occasions.

Drink our beer and do good too!

Bell’s Brewery partners with Meals on Wheels America to raise awareness for seniors, fight food insecurity

RaiseAWing_Branded_Image_2

Bell’s Brewery’s teamed up with Meals on Wheels America to give back, raise awareness for our nation’s seniors and fight food insecurity as part of it Raise a Wing event. Coinciding with National Chicken Wing Day, bars and restaurants across the country served up their wings and Bell’s beer to help drive awareness and donations for the long-standing nonprofit.

WeldWerks donates $10,000 from sales of aptly named 10K IPA every quarter

weldwerks

Following the announcement of the WeldWerks Diversity Scholarship with the University of Northern Colorado (UNC), WeldWerks is continuing with its commitment to equality and inclusion with the launch of 10K IPA, a philanthropic IPA series that will donate $10,000 in proceeds from the sale of the beer to local nonprofit organizations every quarter.
“WeldWerks continues to step up for Diversity in Northern Colorado. The 10K IPA: UNITE Edition will fund Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Programming on the UNC campus through innovative fundraising practices and the proceeds will provide a direct impact for students across campus and specifically in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center,” says Dr. Tobias J. Guzmán, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Chief Diversity Officer at UNC. “At UNC inclusivity, diversity and equity are integral to providing excellent experiences for students, faculty, staff and the greater Northern Colorado Community.”

The 21 best craft beer sales and marketing ideas in 2021

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