How Wachusett Brewing Found Uncommon Ways to Market its Brand

Wachusett Brewing has been busy marketing itself. Sometimes even, with the help from other companies.

Along with switching from plastic ringed six-packs to boxed sixers, the Westminster, Massachusetts brewery also now has a line of pickles out bearing its beer brand.

Once the idea of boxing six-packs of beer instead of using rings came to the table for Wachusett, the brewery ran with it. A more unique packaging meant more space to work with to provide potential customers with information. Seeing 21st Amendment and Boston Beer Works’ boxes, Kim Slayton, the brewery’s communications director said it provided a much better presence on a shelf.

“You get so much more marketing,” she said. “You have six sides to put information and graphics as opposed to six cans and a plastic ring.”

It was also a hit with the brewery’s wholesalers.

“That’s what got the ball rolling,” Slayton said. “They were absolutely on board. Their eyes lit up and they said yes in every meeting we had with them. It was great for the Wachusetts and Nauti [Seltzer] brands and even our contract brewers in the region passed it and it was the same response.”

So away went the “dolphin killer” plastic six-pack rings of the past as the brewery introduced a new cartoner to its production line. That was actually the largest hurdle, Slayton said.

It took more than a year of research to find a cartoner that could fit in the space that the ring machine took up. Slayton pointed out that the physical footprint of Wachusett’s facility would only allow for certain alterations. The brewery was able to find a used cartoner that could work with the speed of the can filler, which can top out at 800 cans per minute, but is usually ran at 400-500 per minute. After getting worked on in Connecticut for nearly eight months, it went online earlier this year after a brief shutdown of the production facility to flip conveyors and reset equipment.

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Along with marketing through new packaging, Wachusett has its name on a new line of pickles, brined with the company’s “Larry” Imperial IPA.

Named after a Westminster police office, Larry Jupin, who was shot in the line of duty, the IPA infuses hop flavor into the pickles which are being produced by Stretch’s Pickles. It was an idea originated by Westminster local Brian Vincent, who bought the company in 2015.

“He’s a big supporter of the brewery and loves Larry and he decided to make pickles out of it,” Slayton said. “And we can’t say no. It was a perfect relationship.”

Slayton said she hasn’t been able to get Vincent to share any trade secrets on the recipe. It has been a hit as the Wachusett beer pickles have helped Stretch’s move from 15-20 points of distribution to nearly 50. The brewery is working on licensing now to be able to sell the pickles from the brewery’s taproom as well.

“It’s just a fun project to be a part of,” Slayton said. “We are glad he used the Wachusett brand. It’s nice the Brian is choosing that specific beer since everyone here knows that story and it hits home.”

Jupin was a volunteer at the brewery in the 1990s. Jupin was shot in the line of duty in 2002.

Slayton said the pickle is great right out of the jar.

“You get some booze factor (“Larry” IPA is 8.5 percent ABV) but it’s bold,” she said. “It’s not overpowering, but it’s a pickle I have never had in my entire life. We are happy to be a part of it.”

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