Brew Review: The Work Behind Creating, Promoting Flagship Collab — AleSmith & Ommegang

Years in planning and miles apart, Philosophy and Velocity is now out to the general public. The beer is a blend of two popular flagship brands from San Diego’s AleSmith and New York’s Brewery Ommegang. Each brewery recreated each other’s beer for the blend and is selling its own version in its major markets.

“We’ve received a significant amount of requests from wholesalers so we’re excited to share this beer with as many people as possible,” said Ryan Crisp, AleSmith’s Director of Brewery Operations and Head Brewer.

The Ommegang release will reach over 30 states — much of its existing distribution — said Technical Manager, Rick DeBar.

“It’s geared toward our best-selling markets, on both the East and West Coast, in addition to markets where AleSmith has strong notoriety,” he said, adding that the promotion of Philosophy and Velocity is similar to what Ommegang has done in the past, if not a little more amped up.

The idea took some time to develop as the Ommegang and AleSmith teams initially discussed the collab at the 2018 Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville.

DeBar said that AleSmith reached out about and after kicking around some ideas over a few beers the two landed on an idea — a riff on its two best-known beers.

“We’ve always loved Brewery Ommegang,” Crisp said. “It’s been an awesome experience for our team and we’re really happy with the end result.”

The breweries each shared each other’s recipes along with samples of the beers. Crisp said most of the work took place before brewing the actual beer.

“We spent a lot of time talking to Rick and his team so we could fully understand their process for Three Philosopher’s and then creating different blends of the two beers to understand how best to create the finished product,” Crisp said. “In the end, both beers were brewed and fermented separately with the blending taking place at the end prior to packaging.”

DeBar said the team in Cooperstown spent a few weeks brewing Speedway Stout on its pilot system to dial it in.

“Ryan was incredibly helpful, sharing tips including adjustments to the pitching and oxygenation schedule to hit the attenuation and the flavor we were looking for using their complex grain bill,” DeBar said. “After nailing it, we went into a full production on a batch of Speedway Stout and Three Philosophers, blending them together post-fermentation and then recirculating the beer with locally procured coffee beans.”

To celebrate the release, the marketing teams kicked off a social media contest to give one consumer a prize pack from both breweries. The contest ends on October 23.

DeBar noted that 2020 has certainly been a year of change across the board, including Ommegang’s marketing strategy.

“As we look toward the end of the year and into 2021, reaching the consumer online, through targeted digital media is important,” he said. “We make great beers, some with great friends, and focusing on social engagement online gives us an efficient and effective way to reach our consumers.”

For AleSmith, Crisp said that change has meant expanding its social media presence and finding new ways to reach consumers outside of the normal avenues, such as through targeted advertising and promoting customer engagement online.

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