The 25 best craft beer sales and marketing ideas in 2020



sales idea lightbulb

Each year we look back through every single post in our “Business & Marketing” tag to pick out our favorite ideas for beer promotion and beer sales. These can take a variety of shapes, and we’ve divided the standouts this year into five buckets:

  • Contests and Sweepstakes — Customer engagement concepts.
  • Sales and Promotions — Deals and special edition goodies.
  • On-site (and Online) Activities — Outside the box efforts to get people on premises were rarer this year, so we lumped in some of the online event pivots.
  • Charitable, equitable and positive initiatives — Initiatives that are as much / more about the cause being promoted/supported than the brands involved.

On that last one: I hope it doesn’t come across as cheapening the earnest efforts being made to label them as “marketing.” They are all rad ideas worth pursuing regardless of whether they help sell some beer. But they warrant recognition here because good marketing makes headlines, starts conversations, presents an image and influences buyers. When that image or conversation or influence is legitimately helpful or charitable — and if a community of customers choose to support your craft brewery because of it — well, that’s awesome. I wish all business was conducted this way. Especially in the dogshit year that was 2020. Hope that makes sense. In fact, let’s start there.

Charitable, equitable and positive initiatives


Sacred Heart University (SHU) and New England Brewing Co. (NEBCO) — the latter being one of the state’s original craft breweries — have established a scholarship for Black students as a means to diversify the brewing industry. To ensure the scholarship support continues in perpetuity, the Connecticut Brewers Guild has initiated an endowed fund with SHU — the Connecticut Brewers Guild African American Brewing Scholarship.


Their goal? Raise $25,000 to develop anti-racism and anti-oppression programming under the Craft Libations for Collective Liberation joint initiative. Short’s has made that goal even more attainable with an initial pledge of $5,000. Once the goal is met, Title Track will host five events across the state that are open to the brewing community.

women new york craft beer collab

Twenty-six females from the New York State craft beer industry are coming together during Women’s History Month to collaboratively brew a Brut IPA named IMPACT. A portion of the beer’s proceeds will go towards purchasing undergarments for SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Exam) programs at local hospitals, UR Medicine Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua, N.Y. and Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, N.Y.

Kicking off in October, craft brewers from states around the nation will once again handcraft a signature charity beer, Rising Hope, with 100 percent of proceeds benefiting NPCF.

Pure Project has built its brand on a commitment to the preservation of our national ecosystems, this year partnering with the National Forest Foundation. This is an organization chartered by Congress with a mission to bring people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands, and a current campaign to plant 50 million trees on our National Forests.

This one too: Worthy Brewing also made a huge commitment to fund the planting of trees last year — a three-year, $1 million commitment — from Worthy Garden Club, its philanthropic arm.

From Aug. 1 through Sept. 30, for every Urban Underdog Dinner Pack sold at UCBC’s Grove Brewery & Bierhall, the pet experts at Purina donated $10 to the Petfinder Foundation to help local shelter pets and the organizations that serve them. The campaign in total aimed to raise $25,000, which will be shared among shelters in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Headwinds is a new video series of films produced by New Belgium Brewing Co. and Fat Tire, centered around the impact of COVID-19 on the small mountain town of Ouray. The first mini movie follows Andrea Iuppenlatz, co-owner of Red Mountain Alpine Lodge, as she tours the town. Iuppenlatz was the first positive blood test for COVID-19 in Ouray.

Contests and Sweepstakes

New York’s Red Shed Brewery launched a great contest for in-state fans this month called “Where do you beer?” and will be giving away a $750 Red Shed Brewery and Mohawk Valley prize pack. The concept is clever, as the contest site explains …

Rogue Ales & Spirits celebrated the 30th anniversary of its flagship beer Dead Guy Ale by challenging fans to ‘Paint the Can Dead’ by creating their own original Dead Guy can art.

North Peak Brewing’s ‘Hope’ photo contest

The Michigan-based craft brewery has launched a ‘Beer Gives Us Hope’ photo contest. The winning submission will be printed on the 6-pack carrier of their new Brut IPA, Hope, originally scheduled for International Women’s Day 2020.

Perrin Brewing Co. is staying in touch with its at-home customers by asking them to decide every aspect of their next beer release over the course of a few weeks via the Interactive Brew Project 2.0. I mean, what else is there to do? Nothing.

Ninkasi Brewing spent a chunk of 2020 releasing these fun At-Home Sports Challenges for drinkers, hosted by Coach Nelson, pushing customers to upload similar videos while promoting the launch of its Juicy Domination brand now being distributed in six-packs. The challenge has consisted of four events over the last four weeks, and the top three competitors will win sweet prizes (like hundreds of dollars in swag).

Paruzal games are not only cool, they are pandemic appropriate. The Denver-based internet business basically brings the escape room experience into your house. While the business seems like a reaction to Covid-19, it actually started in 2019, and its premise is now perfect for our collective homebound lifestyles.

Sales and Promotions

Dig this Urban South Brewery 4-Pack subscription club concept

Customers will receive an Urban South BrüMate, and one 4-pack of Urban South beer each month for 12 months (over a $250 value.) Subscriptions are currently available for purchase and will begin in January 2021.

One fun thing in this horribly un-fun year was seeing all the new, inventive ways craft breweries are trying to connect with customers. If they can’t come to the taproom, bring the taproom to them. For its sixth anniversary celebration, Las Vegas’ CraftHaus Brewery hosted its usual awesome birthday bash, complete with a concert by local rock trio, The Dirty Hooks. But they also put together a tasting kit for fans to enjoy virtually.

Hershey and Harrisburg, PA, launch cool, interactive Brew Barons Beer Trail mobile app with prizes

You love prizes, right? Six check-ins will earn the “Entrepreneur” collectible deck of Brew Barons Beer Trail playing cards. Guests become a “Visionary” with twelve (12) check-ins and earn an ale-can glass. With 17 check-ins, guests become a “Brew Baron” and will earn a stainless-steel growler.

On-site (and Online) Activities

Over the last few years, SpindleTap has become a Houston favorite, producing a ton of popular hazy double India pale ales (dig this brand list). Now, SpindleTap is looking to continue that boom with the opening of SpindlePark, SpindleTap Brewery’s outdoor entertainment complex. Visitors will have access to play baseball, kickball, basketball, soccer, lacrosse, volleyball, cornhole, disc golf and nine holes on the SpindlePutt Championship Golf Course.

Milwaukee’s Sprecher Brewing Co.’s latest cool idea partnered with Cedar Crest Ice Cream to host an epic root beer float giveaway from noon to 8 p.m. on Aug. 6 — National Root Beer Float Day. Event organizers called it The Great Sprecher Root Beer Floatilla and the goal, other than providing a fun thing to do in this horrible pandemic summer, was to get into the record books for hosting the World’s Largest Root Beer Float Drive-Thru.

Sly Fox Brewing debuts a beer and punk rock tour dedicated to just-retired craft beer pioneer Carol Stoudt

Sly Fox Brewing let it be known that beer revolutionary, Carol Stoudt, the first female brewmaster in Pennsylvania since Prohibition, retired in February 2020. To celebrate Carol and the storied history that is Stoudts Brewing Company, Sly Fox collaborated with the Adamstown brewery on a special tribute beer. To celebrate and promote the release of the collaboration, the team booked a series of punk shows at some of their favorite live music venues known for championing craft beer. Line-ups at the energetic concerts– where Black Lager flows like London Calling into Brand New Cadillac– feature regional acts that still define the spirit of punk rock. Pandemic cancellations or not, this was a rad idea.

Findlay Volkswagen Henderson and Mojave Brewing Co., both in Henderson, Nevada, announced a call-to-action partnership, designed to encourage safe driving habits by always appointing a designated driver, called Peace, Love, Designate a Driver. They kicked off the program with a First Friday Cruise Night from the dealership to the brewery, where they unveiled their Peace, Love, Designate refrigerator, which holds non-alcoholic beverage. Items like iced teas, sodas, waters and cold-brew coffees will be given to the designated driver of a group at no charge, complements of Findlay VW.

For the Draft Beer Adoption, Hooker sold nine of its beers in gallon jugs for $10 a piece with a portion of the proceeds going to Dog Star Rescue’s adoption program, which leases space in the brewery’s headquarters and has had a relationship with Hooker for several years.

Cleveland’s Great Lakes Brewing streams its Hop College Class, dissecting the classic Dortmunder Gold Lager

“Our public Hop College program is one of the main ways we bring beer education and an elevated tasting experience to our customers, so we thought we’d create a bite-sized version of one of those programs that could be easily accessed from home. Because we just launched our flagship Dortmunder Gold Lager in cans, it made for a perfect Hop College at Home 101 course. A little history, a little style education and some fun stories accompany a guided tasting of one of our most iconic beers.”

Urban South Brewery is pairing beer releases with live web-Beer-nars, hosted by the head brewer

With social distancing measures in place and the closure of bars and restaurants across the country, some breweries are trying to revive that community spirit in virtual hangouts. My favorite approach thus far is Urban South Brewery‘s live web”BEER”nar concept. Customers were sent an invite to sample a handful of specialty beers and learn more about the intent behind the beers directly from Alex Flores, Head Brewer at Urban South Brewery, from the comfort of their quarantine.

Watch: Left Hand Brewing Foundation’s Stream for a Cause concert, raising funds for the hospitality industry

The Left Hand Brewing Foundation (LHBF), a non-profit committed to community and culture, held the first concerts in its Stream for a Cause series, supporting its new Hospitality Fund. All funds raised through Stream for a Cause are earmarked to provide aid and assistance to employees in the hospitality industry during these crazy times.

Sea Dog Brewing renovates Portland, Maine bowling center into new Alley Brewpub (dig the photos)

Families and friends in South Portland, Maine, were left without bowling last year when Easy Day Bowling Center on Broadway closed. Sea Dog Brewing Co. took the opportunity to try something new and converted Easy Day into the second Sea Dog Brewpub. The 10 bowling lanes have remained alongside the dining service and full kitchen of Sea Dog Brewpub.

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