Insights on Craft Beer Marketing in 2020

An interview with the co-owner of Wallenpaupack Brewing Co.

The winners of the Crafty Marketing Awards were announced last month, which showcased the most creative campaigns in the craft beverage industry. We sat down with one of the winners, Wallenpaupack Brewing Co.— who received an award in the Innovative Marketing Campaign category — to talk about marketing strategies, rapid growth and responding to COVID-19.

Ekos: Tell us about yourself and the history of the brewery.

BR: I’m Becky Ryman, co-owner of Wallenpaupack Brewing Co. I’m an accountant by trade, but I opened the brewery in September 2017 as a passion project with my brother. I’ve always had a love for science and chemistry and thought that opening a brewery would be a great business and an opportunity to connect with the community. When we opened, we had a 20-barrel brew system, but within the first few years we doubled our facility size and our cellar capacity.

Ekos: COVID-19 has been a massive challenge for the entire industry. How have you adapted your business to stay afloat during these times?

BR: We had to make changes and be willing to be flexible. Right away we saw a need to package more beer as keg sales fell off. The good news is that we distribute to beer stores and saw sales increase as more people wanted to drink beer at home. That’s where we got the idea for our 14-day Quarantine Pack and the marketing campaign.

Ekos: The Quarantine Packs were such a unique idea and the Crafty Marketing Awards judges loved the creativity. How did the campaign work?

BR: Right after we shut down in March, I realized we had a lot of canned and bottled beer in the beer cooler and knew we needed to find it a home. Everyone was talking about a two-week quarantine (little did we know it would be much longer!) and we thought we could sell a variety pack of beer to help people get through two weeks at home. So, we put together a pack of 15 different beers – one for each day plus a 15th beer to celebrate!

Ekos: That was a smart move! How did you promote the packs?

BR: We decided to make a whole marketing campaign focused on daily videos that our team created. We recently bought GoPros with the intention of making videos but hadn’t gotten around to it. When the virus hit and we suddenly had a bit of free time on our hands, our team embraced the challenge and created entertaining and educational videos that we shared on social. This was great for marketing but also helped to keep our team morale high during an uncertain time.

Ekos: Wallenpaupack Brewing has a brewpub and outdoor seating. How have you been able to adapt this summer as things have opened up?

BR: We’ve been fortunate with brewpub sales from takeout orders and outdoor dining. We implemented a reservation system for visitors to our location so we can accommodate everyone safely. Right now, we’re handling reservations manually, but we are considering moving to a paid service. We are in a touristy area and have seen steady sales during the summer months.

Ekos: That’s great to hear. Knowing that things will continue to change, what plans do you have for the fall?

BR: We know that sales will slow after summer, so we want to make sure we’re ready with ecommerce. We weren’t selling online before, but now are using Toast for online sales and Square to sell our merchandise. Pennsylvania is now allowing shipping and we plan to start that in the fall. We hope that people who have traveled and visited the brewery will want to order beer to enjoy no matter where they are.

Ekos: What advice do you have for other breweries who are trying to make it work this year?

BR: In general, we are trying to use the downtime to make ourselves stronger. Whether its implementing new technology, coming up with creative campaigns, learning new skills like video, or finding ways to bond your team, it is important to be flexible and try new things.

Becca