What is a brand? For beer it’s a label, a name and maybe a logo that identifies something unique. A brand’s purpose is to drive consumer confidence towards obtaining some expected consistency. A consumer grabbing a new beer release from a brewery brand known for making stellar beers will have some confidence grabbing that new bottle sitting on the shelf.
Diving deeper, a brand can also harbor shallow qualities that we subconsciously assign to it. Marlboro cigarettes, in their day, were made for those that appreciated the true American spirit – or something like that. Marketing images for the brand always had a rugged cowboy embedded in it. Smokers subconsciously assigned these images, thoughts and aspirations to the rolled up tube of tobacco that really wasn’t much different from any other rolled up tube of tobacco.
Blasphemy! Beer is different and does have distinct brewery differences. Truth is there still are breweries making unique beers worthy of their brand investment. More truth; my most cherished “Beer Brands” don’t have much to do with the logo or name. In some cases even the beer itself wasn’t that important.
A marine who served our country in the Pacific – WWII – by jumping out of planes with suspect parachute quality – he earned his beer. He earned his Scotch too. I remember the day I grew up enough, from his perspective, to be presented with a beer from his fridge. I remember the hot sun that day, the ice cold can and just how precious it all was. No idea what the actual brand was. Absolutely none – it didn’t matter then and doesn’t matter now. I miss that guy, not the beer.
I drove 3 hours to meet Dad in Chicago. Drove all the way from Kalamazoo in my crappy ’74 Toyota Celica. Thing was a 4 cylinder but only 3 worked. Dad was running some trade show at the McCormick center and he welcomed a beer buddy with a fresh liver. We staggered all over Chicago that day/night to what had to be 9 different bars. I drank 17 beers (still a record). All 17 beers were the same – Old Style. Imagine that – all the same beer.
John Fahrner invited me over to his house one day to watch the Spartans (of course) play. He pulled out a bomber of something called Marshmallow Mean Vanilla Bean (Drafting Table). We split that bomber and drank it slower than any beer I’ve ever had, then or since. It was that good. The company wasn’t too bad either. That afternoon cemented my conviction that Buddy Time is critical, mandatory if only to stay sane “Iron sharpens Iron“.
My best friend and life partner, she wasn’t much of a fan of my beer hobby. Didn’t like anything I drank when we first met – except for stouts. I married her. Our best beers were those “amazing discoveries” discovered together. The best one is a toss-up between Mexican Cake (Westbrook Brewing) during a vacation to SC and Chocolate Covered Cherry Stout (Cheboygan Brewing). Again, doesn’t matter. It was the shared experiences that I cherish.
As I continue to expand my craft beer journey, I’m certain I’ll find some amazing beers and beer brands. My goal however is to keep creating more of these heartfelt “beer brands“.