Libations | Craft Beer Variety: How to Stand Out on an Increasingly Crowded Shelf

Perusing the beer aisle at my local liquor store is a hobby of mine. It’s just too fun discovering all of the creativity flowing from microbreweries around this country. Yet, homing in on which six-pack I’d like to purchase is becoming increasingly difficult and somewhat overwhelming. With the number of microbreweries in the U.S. clocking in at 2,483, just to be exact, it’s no wonder the beer aisle has swelled. But, you have to question, what factors draw consumers to a particular brand or style? In that same vein, how does a brewery thrive in the beer aisle and connect with a consumer who will never have the opportunity to step foot in their tasting room? The answer to building a brand and a following is certainly multifaceted. It involves the aesthetics of the can or bottle label, trending styles of beer, the sense of community that each brewery can elicit through their bottle and the relationship they can foster with each liquor store.

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We’re all told from a young age not to judge a book by its cover, but I will be the first to admit, that I judge every book by its cover. I can’t help it. Similarly, what draws me to look more closely at a beer is often the label. A well-crafted label can create strong buying power. Colors that pop or a name that makes you think adds to the amusement of buying the beer. Thus, the label could be the impetus a new consumer needs to take home a particular beer.

Take these examples below. Lost Coast Brewing has designed some eye-popping labels that are colorful and exciting. The playful nature of the label for their Tangerine Wheat Ale demonstrates the spirit of the brewery. While I may never step foot in the tap room of Lost Coast Brewing, I can relate to the free and easy going feeling their label shows off. It reveals the good time that could be had if I were to buy their beer.

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Similarly, I enjoy both of these labels as well. Left Hand Brewing of Longmont, CO recently rebranded all of their labels to stay current. Golden Road Brewing, out of LA, worked with a local photographer to snap some classic shots of the city and had the photos printed on their cans. The retro look engenders the timeless laid back California vibe.

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Photo c/o Four Firkins

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Beyond the initial look of the label, I think that trending beer styles are a big pull. Which beer genre everyone is getting psyched about could be the deciding factor between the purchase one brewery’s porter and another’s IPA. Those looking for a particular style can immediately narrow their search. Customers interested in beer to any degree often make a journey down the IPA, hit-me-with-your-best-hop, path. During that time, they likely only had a taste for very hoppy beers and would try nothing else. Moreover, novice craft beer drinkers tend to know Blue Moon’s Belgian White or New Belgium’s Fat Tire. These are popular, session ales that don’t catch the palate off guard. Therefore, many people walking down the beer aisle with less of an understanding about beer styles, may look for Belgian beers or amber ales.  This means that any brewery trying to make a name for themselves on store shelves should diversify their portfolio of beers.

Everyone loves a story. People connect and feel included if there is a story of heartfelt passion behind a beer. If a bottle of beer can evoke a sense of community or the tale of the brewery can be summed up on the side of the can, that beer is on its way to the checkout counter. Likewise, the employees of your local liquor store most likely have strong sway over your choice of purchase. I’m constantly asking for advice from the guy stocking shelves next to me and I’m betting you’ve done the same. So, if a brewery can build a relationship with each liquor store selling their product, that beer will likely move off the shelves more quickly. Each beer needs an advocate and it could be pretty easy to find one in an beer store employee, looking for a cause.

While it’s easy to just close your eyes and merely grab a pack of beer off the shelf–after spending 30 minutes trying to discern the best option–I like knowing there’s choice for us avid beer drinkers. After all, it’s clear there’s a strong market when we’ve grown by 2,443 microbreweries since the emergence of the craft beer community. On the other hand, you could always market a beer in the way Anchor Brewing did when they sponsored Joe Breeze and Otis Guy on their tandem bike ride across the country in 1979.

IMG_0941Staying hydrated with beer. Photo c/o Beer Advocate June issue

I hope this whet your palate for your weekend choice of libations.

Cheers!

Carolyn

ManMade | The Things We Cook

My dear friend Alli Howe has accomplished something wonderful. She has illustrated a cookbook. I have always been an admirer of her work because of the free-feeling style she has. Her art is organic, yet precise and it is incredibly inviting. Most of her pieces kind of make you want to jump inside. She inspires me to be creative. And so, here is the culmination of many months of work and love.

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The cookbook is called The Things We Cook. It is full of recipes from a beautiful farm in New Hampshire called Green Hope Farm. The recipes are a collection of dishes from Molly Sheehan as well as her family and farm staff. This book is lovely to look at and you could spend many hours browsing each page. However, it is also a book that you would use daily. The recipes are approachable, yet full of flavor. These are the type of dishes you keep coming back to time and time again, eventually becoming family favorites. They’re the recipes you whip up while laughing and chatting with friends seated around your kitchen counter. This book is the perfect gift for friends and family or just for yourself. Take a look inside and then head straight to Amazon to purchase a copy.

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The book is worth every cent and you need it on your bookshelf. Right. Away.

Purchase it here.

That’s all for now. Happy Tuesday!

Vibrations | Lucius

There is a band called Lucius. It’s a five piece band. The are two main singers. They’re both women and they have killer voices.

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Jesse Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius fill most of the sound on each track, but of course their band wouldn’t be, if it weren’t for their other three, Andrew Burri, Peter Lalish, and Dan Molad. The two girls’ voices are fully synchronized, so much so that sometimes you can’t even tell there are two voices. To add to that character, or as they say “dress the sound” they dress identically for all concerts as well. Their sound recalls a few different decades of music, both the 60s and 80s. However, it is also uniquely modern and poppy, and almost ethereal. Whatever the genre, their music is more than enjoyable to listen to.

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While they have been playing music together for about a decade, since their time at Berklee College of Music, they only just released a full-length album called Wildewomen. One song after the next is engaging and enthralling. You won’t be disappointed.

Lastly, here is the link to their Tiny Desk Series with NPR.

Here’s to some Monday Vibrations! Cheers.

In the Loop | The Denver Christmas Market Scene

What’s not to love about buying gifts directly from the maker, shaking their hands, smiling broadly and knowing you’re walking away with a killer product. To me that’s what holiday markets embody. So here is the best of, in my humble opinion, around Denver.

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Denver Handmade Homemade Market: this market will include more then 60 vendors all selling their uniquely made wares. The HAHO market will be open both Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15th from 1pm to 7pm at 734 Sante Fe Drive. There will be live music both days and treats to satiate the palate. An all around warm, homely way to search for your perfect holiday gifts.

Handmade at the Hall: This holiday market takes place at The EXDO Hall on Larimer Square. The 65 crafters, artisans, and small businesses making an appearance at this market will help tick off the last of your gift list. The pleasant holiday atmosphere will invite you to browse and admire the time and effort each artist put into their work, not to mention there will be nibbles to nosh on while you stroll. Don’t miss out next Saturday, December 14th from 10am to 5pm.

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Horseshoe Market: If you don’t find something at this market then you’re out of luck. Seriously, just give up because you’re never going to find a gift for your loved ones. I say this because the tagline is “Denver’s official home for lucky finds,” so they obviously know what they’re doing in organizing a holiday market extravaganza. Okay, regardless, this is going to be a great market with many, many vendors, which will hopefully inspire you and leave you with your arms full of local, artisinal gifts. Plus, they’ve partnered up with Whole Foods which is cool? Hit up the Denver Pavilions next Saturday the 14th from 10am to 4pm. Hooray!

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Colorado Makers Holiday Market: There’s this really cool association called the Colorado Makers. It’s a contingency of local artisans working to promote other artisans, craft makers and small business owners. This very week they will be hosting a Holiday Market at The Source. If you haven’t made it to The Source yet then this is the trip for you. Really, not only is it a cool space, but the market will include some really impressive local makers. So, head over to The Source for this inviting market next Saturday the 14th from 12pm to 8pm and Sunday the 15th 11am to 5pm for a good time.

Here’s to keeping you in the loop!

Cheers.

Odds & Ends

It’s cold and windy here this morning and the snow oscillates between thick falling flakes and lighter flurries. I’m trying my best to melt into the couch.

There are a couple of thing I would like to share today. First off, there’s a really neat project called The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition. The pictures pretty much speak for themselves.

 

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And now a couple interesting sites I’ve been enjoying:

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1. If you enjoy stationary and paper like me, you should head to this site here.

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2. The most natural of scents.

 

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3. Most well respected winter gloves

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4. A collective bringing you some pretty darn trendy outdoor gear.

That’s it for now. Have a fabulous Wednesday. Stay cozy!

Vibrations | Melaena Cadiz

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This woman. This.woman. Her strong sound is captivating, but even. It’s beautiful, but with a slight roughness beneath. Her lyrics are worldly, making it seem like she’s seen a lot and experienced a lot. Melaena Cadiz is Brooklyn based and as far as I can see she’s currently sticking with gigs on that side of the plains. But with any luck she’ll head this way for a tour. All in all, completely worth a listen. She’s doing great things for women musicians out there.

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Some suggested listening:

Neon Drag

The Wolf

Bluestem Grass