How Your Taproom Can ‘Ignite’ Your Distribution

Even though Wachusett Brewing is nearing its quarter-century mark, the Massachusetts brewery is finding ways to continue to branch out and find more consumers that may not have.

President Christian McMahan, who took over in his role in June, 2017, said the brewery firmly believe that for distributed beer companies, a successful taproom business will ignite their distribution business. And they have seen the results on a daily basis

“A taproom is much more than a retail operation, it’s the No. 1 way you market your brand to the consumer,” McMahan said. “The experience that a craft beer drinker has in your taproom, has a great impact on the relationship they have with your brand.”

McMahan feels a positive experience will result in those consumers engaging with your brewery’s brand on a more frequent basis, whether in a bar, restaurant or package store.

It’s been less than one year since Wachusett opened its ‘Brew Yard’ facility, but McMahan said the performance of the brand really stands out.

“Essentially the region that surround our original Brew Yard, has double the growth trend of the rest of the market,” he said. “Consumers are getting to know us better and former a deeper bond with the brand, even though we have been around for 24 years, it’s pretty amazing.”

They had seasonal Brew Yards in both Boston and Worcester and both, McMahan said, is proving to be their most effective recruiting tool.

“The question is now how we amplify that,” he pondered. “Both in expanding our current space and looking for opportunities away from the brewery. We want to be smart about how we move forward, but we certainly see great value from a marketing standpoint.”

The brewery is a being thoughtful about expansion — currently they are making around 70,00 barrels with a projected 130,000-bbl capacity.

“Craft beer overall is in a bit of flux in terms of its growth, so we don’t want to ignore the realities of the micro trend,” McMahan said. “We will continue to add capacity as needed, but never get too far over our skis.”

The brewery’s investment in canning several years ago has started to pay off.

“To have the canning line speed we have (up to 800 cans per minute) and now have the volume to make it efficient has certainly been a great thing,” McMahan said. “As a “legacy” craft brewery in New England, we still have a substantial bottle business as we have consumers who have been with our brands for a very long time, but all our new innovation, especially our Wally New England IPA platform, has certainly elevated our canning volume to a different level.

Wachusett has been very focused on staying true to themselves and staying focused in their core markets.

“Ensuring you stay relevant in your local market is now more important than ever and all our energy and resources have been committed to ensuring we do exactly that,” McMahan said. “This includes our innovation — like our Mass Soul IPA — our allocation of resources, and the overall strategic direction of our company.

“We see the market beginning to greatly fragment and want to make sure the Wachusett brand always maintains relevant in the New England market.”

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