Properly Planning a Small-Batch Release

In the age of one-offs, seasonals and special releases, planning for these and marketing them properly takes time and effort.

For Rohrbach Brewing it means Brittany Statt, the brewery’s marketing director, is a central component in helping direct a successful campaign and release.

The Neoteric Series the brewery now does is a huge part of what keeps the creativity in her job, she said

“Rohrbachs has created a strong dependable brand for over 25 years, and our seasonals and classics reflect that,” Statt explained. “The Neoteric Series is like the black sheep of the family–the branding, design, and execution are unexpected for us. It’s a great way for us to say to our consumers, we’re not just going to keep doing the same thing and expect to keep growing. We’re listening to what our consumers want and constantly pushing the envelope on what’s possible for our brewery.”

Brainstorming sessions help the team have fun: coming up with names and brand themes for these beers, and interesting ways they can introduce the beer.

For Griddle Cakes, a blueberry maple Wheat Ale, the brewery had a pancake dinner release party in May. Guests had the option of blueberry pancakes with their pint along with serving the beer in custom Griddle Cakes pint glasses. They hosted live music as well.

“As a marketer, and for the whole team, it’s so much fun to watch people get excited about these beers and show up for the releases,” Statt said.

As a designer, the timelines are intense but exciting, she noted. “While I do the designing alone, I have a great team that’s enthusiastic about it and allows me a lot of flexibility on the package design. It’s a challenge to continue coming up with entirely new designs that don’t fit a certain look or template, while also not straying too far so that our brand becomes totally unrecognizable.”

With Griddle Cakes being the brewery’s third release of the year, Statt said they already feel more confident in what to expect in terms of having the proper amounts in kegs and cans.

The first 2018 Neoteric, Cookies & Milk Stout, did so overwhelmingly well, Statt said they were unprepared.

“Accounts and distributors couldn’t get the orders they wanted,” she explained. “We had a happy accident of ordering too many cans, which in the end really helped us. We brewed double the initial plan and still couldn’t keep it on the shelves, which in a way, created that buzz and high demand for the beer. It is so hard to find that sweet spot between high demand by scarcity and simply keeping consumers happy (while also selling a lot more beer).”

It’s a constant topic of conversation between the brewers and sales team, and it is a challenge, admitted Statt.

“Once we figure out the batch size, we also determine the ratio of kegs versus cans dependent on demand,” she said. “Not only have we learned the importance of the batch size, but the time of it as well. After not being able to keep up with the demand of Cookies & Milk, we now front-load more of the beer for that first initial push. With small-batch releases like this, it’s a big sales curve.”

There is a new SKU for each Neoteric release. They have released the beer in-house only just for the release party, as an incentive to attend and get an exclusive first chance at the beer. It is then be distributed throughout draft accounts and package stores. This is where the team has learned the pre-sale ordering helps us out.

“In a way, our accounts are taking a chance on us by putting this new beer on tap, and our marketing efforts ensure that consumers will be looking for the beer and excited to get a pint at their favorite bar,” she said.

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