The ​3 ​Ways the Oklahoma Guild is Boosting State Beer Awareness

The Craft Brewers ​Association ​of Oklahoma ​has begun making huge strides in promoting and raising awareness of its member breweries lately.​ Creating both a beer week and adding a state-wide digital passport app this year, the CBAO ​is looking to attract consumers and strengthen the bond between breweries as well.

“This was a missing piece Oklahoma needed,” said Executive Director Tabbi Burwell. “It’s a way for us and our member breweries to celebrate our successes and invite customers in to also celebrate this success.”

The week went better than expected, she noted.

“I’ve heard that taproom traffic increased almost double for some,” Burwell said. “I loved seeing breweries getting creative and tagging us on social media every day.

“There was a lot of buzz happening and it was exciting to see craft beer fans embracing this week. Ultimately it’s here to stay and it was a really fun week.”

The CBAO rolled out 3 different measures this year to help push forward.

Oklahoma Craft Beer Week

At a board retreat in February, Burwell said she put a beer week idea on the list as something they needed to create. It happened the week of May 16 to coincide with American Craft Beer Week.

“We all brainstormed what it would look like and I continued to lead the charge on this,” she explained.

Logistically, Burwell worked off Google Forms for breweries who wanted to participate in the rollout of a collab beer (Trail Mix) and also to capture what events would be happening in taprooms across the state.

“I took everyone’s events and put them on CBAO’s site and showcased the events by day in that one spot,” she said. “Additionally, I handled all of the PR leading up to the week which secured two three-hour on-location news segments in both the OKC and Tulsa markets and several other printed or digital coverage.

“This event only continues to put craft beer at the forefront and ultimately supports increasing awareness and consumption.”

OK Craft Beer Trail Passport

The digital passport features 51 Oklahoma breweries and allows users to earn prizes along the way. They partnered with Bandwango, a destination experience engine, to create a mobile-friendly passport that would reward craft beer fans as they explore taprooms across the state.

“This was the piece that was missing for us after we launched the Oklahoma Craft Beer Trail with the Department of Agriculture last summer,” Burwell said in a release. “Giving beer fans the tools, whether they are Oklahomans or tourists, to explore Oklahoma’s quickly growing brewery scene will continue to support tourism and draw business to our small, independently owned breweries.”

The digital passport requires a one-time setup to capture the user’s information. After that, users can start checking in at each brewery once they are within 0.2 miles of the brewery. By signing up for the passport and visiting breweries along the trail, users can earn prizes. Passholders checking in to 30 breweries will earn a trail sticker. When users reach 40 breweries they will earn a trail-themed tie-dye koozie and once all breweries are checked off the passport, they will earn an Oklahoma Craft Beer Trail pint glass. All prizes are shipped directly to the pass holder as they complete the trail.

READ MORE: Craft Beer Trail Passport Launches in Oklahoma

Brewers also get rewarded by launching this trail too. Not only is the passport driving traffic into their breweries but brewery owners will now be able to receive data about the customers that they may not have had before launching the passport.

“I’m most interested in seeing who our core customer is and how that changes over time,” said Jake Miller, owner of Heirloom Rustic Ale in Tulsa. “It’s easy to trust intuitions and feelings about who frequents your taproom, but this will be a great tool to give brewers actual data about who is filling our seats and drinking our pints.”

Trail Mix Beer Collaboration

Last year the CBAO had brewers come together to brew a beer to support the guild but this year Burwell really wanted a beer that was different among the breweries to increase taproom traffic.

“We reached out to Allied Member, Hopsteiner, and asked for a donation,” she said. “Our Board-Member-at-Large, Jake Miller of Heirloom Rustic Ales, led the charge on what two ingredients our brewers would use and then worked with Hopsteiner to create an easy way to get these hops to them.”

The beer had to contain a Cascade hop and Pilsner malt. Board president, Evan Smith of Vanessa House Beer Co., worked with BSG to donate a small amount of grain.

A​ total of ​43 varieties were made and Burwell said the ones she tasted have been great. A few she mentioned were Nothing’s Left in Tulsa did a Tangerine Margarita Gose and Cooper and Mill in Bartlesville did a Session IPA using bioengineered yeast called Star Party.

“Along with the Cascade and Pilsner it creates a fruity aroma not typical with these types of ingredients,” she said. Cross Timber’s in Oklahoma City did a Gose brewed with pink Himalayan salt and coriander and then aged it on pink peppercorns as well.

Plans for Next Year

​Areas that Burwell said could be improved are more participation in creativity and events across all taprooms.

“We have one brewery doing a food contest where beer had to be in the recipe, which is out of the box and creative,” she said. “We have four breweries in one district doing a brewery crawl all week — I’d love more of that.

​”​We could definitely improve on not rolling out too many other things at the same time. We had our big festival tickets go on sale the Friday before this week kicked off and I just feel we have too many things happening and communication starts to get lost. ​ ​I’d love to possibly do this event leading up to that big festival next year and not on top of American Craft Beer Week.​”​

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