Advice for First Time Medalists at GABF

The hectic and wild and frenzied fest that is the Great American Beer Festival is over now. You’ve won a category or received a medal for one of your beers. Now, what? Do you market that beer(s) like crazy? Will sales go through the roof? Do you just ride the wave of profit that is sure to come?

Established breweries that have won medals in the past gave their advice and insights for first time medal winners at GABF.

Kristen Muraro, Sales and Marketing Director for Ska Brewing, said breweries should prioritize getting the word out through social media platforms first and foremost.

“Get it posted right away and send out a press release,” she said. “We try to put the medals on ours cans, and on our sales sheets we list them out. I think it just helps with so many beers and so much competition.”

Last year when Ska’s Oktoberfest won a medal, the brewery had already run out of the seasonal by the time GABF was over, which obviously didn’t help sales.

“It definitely doesn’t help every beer with sales but I think it helps in some situations for sure,” Muraro said. “If you put it on your signage in your tasting room and someone’s sitting there debating between which beer they’re going to get, sometimes they see it won a medal … sometimes having that credential just helps a little bit more.”

Great Divide Brewing Company has won 18 medals in the past and takes advantage of its wins as well. 

“If you’re thinking about packaging a beer, it’s something you can easily slap on the can,” Matt Sandy said, Great Divide’s Marketing Manager. “The Brewers Association at GABF gives you their logo. They love to see that on the can, and I think that is a selling point for any beer.”

For smaller breweries that aren’t packaging beer, though, they should push whichever beer won a medal in the taproom. Or, consider a small packaging run of the beer if it’s a popular style, Sandy said.

Thirsty Monk’s CEO Barry Bialik has a little bit of a different perspective.

“I think the whole judging is a crapshoot, so don’t put too much emphasis on it because of the way it’s done,” Bialik said. I mean, how can someone judge 500 IPAs?”

He takes a more lighthearted approach when Thirsty Monk does win an award.

“As much of it is for marketing to your customers, I think the bigger thing we do is, it’s a pat on the back to everyone on our entire staff, so we make sure all of our staff knows that, hey we all did a great job … they get to know that they’re proudly serving a medal winning beer. I think the biggest thing is, it really gets our staff pumped.”

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