Ways to Connect to a Local Team’s Fan Base

​It was a waiting game. The Columbus Crew, a professional soccer team, had its owner thinking of moving the team from Ohio to Austin, Texas​. That didn’t happen and Adam Benner and his team at Land-Grant Brewing was happy. The brewery has been a supporter of the Major League Soccer squad and had created a “Supporters Beer,” Glory, for the Crew fan base.

With a new MLS season upon them, Land-Grant looked at refreshing the partnership while working with that fan base to create a new brand for this season.

​”​We all loved the previous Supporter Beer, Glory, but wanted to get a new perspective from the supporters as a lot has changed in the past ​four​ years,​” Benner said,​ ​”​not just with the team but in what flavors people are seeking out in beer.​”​

So, just like ​what it did four years ago​, Land-Grant​ wanted input from the supporters ​again.

To ​do so, it brewed ​four ​different styles, including the previous Glory recipe (as a control).

​”One thing we did different this time was to involve bars that are also big gathering spots for Crew supporters and had one of the four options at their location,” Benner noted. “We wanted to bring those folks in who also have done a lot for the team and supporting us as well since we opened.”

​The partnership with the Crew and bringing Glory to market was a huge part of ​the Columbus brewery’s initial growth​, Benner said​.

​”​We were the first local brewery to partner with the team, which was a big risk for both of us, but we were able to leverage the partnership to help grow the overall Land-Grant brand in Columbus​,” he said​. ​”​The first year we released Glory in cans it was the ​No. 1​ selling beer in our portfolio, and was a mainstay after that.​”​

Benner said when they decided they wanted to brew a “Crew Beer” Land-Grant always approached it not as a beer for the team itself, but for the folks who share that same passion as they do for the team on the field.

“We didn’t just want to slap the Crew’s logo on a beer we were already going to brew and do a Twitter vote for a name,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that we were listening to the fans that they could be a part of help selecting a beer brewed for them.”

​Being in a city that has one of the most passionate college fan​ ​bases in the country​ for​ Ohio State ​can be a daunting challenge for a new brewery, and Benner stressed they love the Buckeyes ​as well​.

​”​It is true what they say about soccer fans being a different breed​,” he said​​. ​”​However, the loyalty and passion that supporters of the Crew show is even greater than most fans of the Scarlet and Gray.

​”​The numbers might not be there, but the game​ ​watches for Crew matches we’ve had at our taproom are some of the best experiences we’ve had at the brewery.​”​

The partnership with the team didn’t just help ​Land-Grant’s recognition in Central Ohio, but ​it ​helped raise  brand awareness around a lot of the soccer world.

​”​The last time the ​United State’s Men’s National Team hosted Mexico in a World Cup ​qualifier, we had many visitors come to the brewery straight from the airport to the brewery​,” Benner said. “We get a lot of away fans for Crew matches by the brewery as well.​”

The brewery has also been able to get in on collaborations with other breweries across the country because of the affiliation with the Crew.

In 2017 ​it brewed ​two​ beers in a “supporters series” to celebrate ​some ​original MLS clubs​; one with Boulevard in Kansas City and another with Peticolas in Dallas.

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