January 13, 2019

Beer Marketing, The Interviews – Brian Beagle Indie Beer Show

indie beer show brian beagle

Beer marketing is about beer and marketing. The main thing both of those have in common is people. If you want great beer or great marketing you need great people.

At #BeerMarketing our goal is help beer people get better at marketing and to help marketing people get better at marketing beer. So enjoy an ongoing series of interviews of beer people, marketing people and our favorite: beer marketing people.

Beer Marketing: Brian Beagle, Sore Eye Suds and The Indie Beer Show

Brian Beagle is a mainstay of the San Diego #indiebeer scene. He is the founder of Sore Eye Suds and the Indie Beer show.

The Indie Beer Show is a podcast that features Brandon Hernandez, Esthela Davila, David Martin, and Brian Beagle along with regular contributors, friends of the show, and anything/anyone associated with the amazing indie beer industry and community. We provide a great balance of educational, topical, and entertaining discussions. During each episode we will focus on a topic or guest, include indie beer news, discuss the beers we’re drinking during the show, thank our Patrons for their support, and most importantly, have fun!

indie beer show brian beagle
Brian Beagle pontificating

How would you describe what you do to your grandma?

I/we talk about brewers and beer here in San Diego

How would you describe what you do to beer industry peers?

I/we advocate for and discuss the amazing indie beer industry and community. #indiebeer

What’s your super power?

I can tell someone how it is, or discuss an unpleasant situation and they feel I’m just being honest, not a dick. 

How long have you been involved in the beer industry? 

I have been involved with beer related blogging and podcasting for 9 years. So does that make me an oldie?

What was your ‘gateway/intro/omg’ beer that got you into enjoying beer rather than just consuming it?

Sam Adams Boston Lager was the first beer I drank for the flavor and appreciation of beer, rather than just drinking. I’m sure this was the gateway beer for lot of people.

What are the last three beers you drank? (Brewery, beer name)

Latch Key, Squeak

Cerveceria de Colima, Piedra de Lisa

Tenaya Creek, Hop Ride

You get only two beers while stuck riding the mars rover. Which two do you pick? (Brewery, beer name) and why?

Pizza Port, Ponto – this session ipa defines the style to me. Super easy drinking, flavorful beer that satisfies my hop tooth, all while clocking in at a measly 4.5%, so you know there’s no reason not to have another! While visiting PP Bressi Ranch, I found out that their canner runs at about 300 cans per minute, which lead to one of my favorite, possibly outlandish statements, “I drank a minute of Ponto in 2017!” AleSmith, Nut Brown – it’s the perfect beer, really, if you think about it. Bold, flavorful, but not heavy enough to make you feel bloated. Pairs with almost any food and is a great contrast to Ponto!

What is your “OMG, right now, can’t get enough of it, must drink more” beer?

Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek is the beer I can’t pass up right now. Luckily, the SD market is infatuated with American sours currently and I can find this world class beer with no extra effort. Keep drinking those beers with enough acid to strip the enamel off your teeth, I’ll drink the culmination of hundreds of years of brewing experience!

indie beer show brian beagle

What does “Beer Marketing” mean to you? (be as verbose as you want)

Beer marketing, as a term, sometimes gets a bad rap because it invokes images of big beer’s complete disconnect with the craft/indie drinker. When done well, beer marketing is the handshake, welcoming hug, and direct connect to your new favorite brand.

What beer company do you think does an exceptional job at overall marketing? (product, promotion, people, retail, packaging, social etc)

Modern Times (amazing artistry)– Burning Beard (ground level events that actually connect with beer geeks)

What’s your favorite beer marketing this year? (brewery and whatever marketing they did)

Every Modern Times can release was my favorite marketing of the year. Their can art is impeccable, their writing speaks volumes to my inner beer geek, their fonts are clean and easy to read, and the beer is top notch!

What Beer Marketing do you wish Breweries would stop?

I don’t have a specific worst, just an overall wake up call to the craft/indie beer industry – stop sexualizing women to sell your product! Stop with beer names that are horrible, like “Bust-A-Nut Brown” just to drum up controversy. Just stop.

What is your #1 pet peeve about what too many beer companies do wrong in their marketing?

Other than the above answer, it’s marketing that has no connection to the actual audience/clientele. If you marketing is simply “New beer release, you’ll love X, comes out of Friday!” then you’re not grabbing my attention. Sure, it’s informational, but to break through the noise of social media you need something that connects, something that motivates your followers to interact and show up. 

What two marketing related activities do you wish more breweries would do more of?

My comments really only relate to San Diego but establish a face of your business (an owner, taproom manager, etc) so that us beer geeks have someone to identify with. We need to feel a personal connection to your brand if you’re looking for long term clients. Have fun! I can’t tell you how boring it is to scroll through Instagram and see a picture and a few words, I’m guilty too, it’s not just you. That being said, fun is contagious, if you and your staff are conveying a feeling that they love their job and the brand, those of us on the other side feel that more than you think. End “keep the glass” nights that are front for bullshit. If you are selling the glasses to the bar, then it’s not a fucking free glass! Do something else, like having an actual person that knows about your beer onsite to talk about how awesome you are! 

You only get to choose one: What’s more important for the long term success of a brewery? And Why? Exceptional Product or Exceptional Marketing & Branding

All the above is really the correct answer but I feel exceptional product is more important for long term success. Exceptional marketing and branding will definitely drive hype and people into seats at your bar but if the product you serve doesn’t stand up to the quality of that marketing you will not have any repeat business. 

Is the overall Beer market:

  1. Over-saturated (too many breweries, not enough drinkers, more closures than openings) or
  2. Under-saturated (unmet demand, more breweries open than close, more beer will be consumed.)

The overall beer market is saturated, neither over or under. There are a lot of niches left to fill with indie/craft beer but the chances of a new brand becoming a nation wide distributed product are getting slimmer by the day. We are seeing a heavy contraction of sales of national brands that have 20 or even 30 years of a head start on a brewery that is launching today. The market is dramatically shifting to locally produced beer versus juggernauts shipping their product across the country.

Is YOUR City Over or Under saturated?

San Diego is oversaturated and there’s some indications of that lately. Of course, I know of at least 15 breweries/tap rooms that are in construction and several that will open very soon, to contrast that thought. Last year, for the first time, we saw four breweries expand themselves into failure. In a last ditch effort to gain enough business to be viable, these small companies invested every reserve they had and more into opening a second location. In doing that, they were not prepared for an overall sales slow down in SD, the doubling of their overhead, and the difficulty of managing locations spread across the city, which lead to their demise. The shining example of this was Council Brewing. When they purchased the failed Finest Made location in Santee, early in ’18, the craft beek geeks in SD rejoiced. We saw it as a well timed move to increase the beer production of a massively respected brewery here. Unfortunately, Council closed their doors in mid December. 2018 in San Diego saw 22 breweries close but also 25 opened. This lead to a net 2% increase of total breweries in SD, but that’s down from 10% overall facility growth in ’17. The good news is that there is still room for the brewpub, only serve your community, type of brewery to be successful.

What are your Top Three breweries in your city?

My top 3 breweries in San Diego are – #3. Modern Times – #2 Karl Strauss (the oldest brewery in SD), and #1 AleSmith, the original winner of the Sore Eye Cup and the only member of the Sore Eye Cup Hall of Fame!

Beer Marketing People are Awesome.

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