How Breweries Are Handling Hype

Getting noticed nationally as a brewery can be great. Except when it’s not.

For a brewery that may be have hype behind it after being a darling in its region, like Great Notion in Portland or Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales in Denver, getting that boost of popularity may be honoring, but it also means an increase in demand. That demand may go well past the availability. Managing those expectations becomes a new factor to work through.

“We are honored and humbled by all the love we’ve been seeing,” said Paul Reiter, a co-founder of Great Notion. His brewery has seen more social media follows and comments, spikes in brewpub traffic from tourists visiting a ‘beercation’ spot like Portland, increases in sales of online merchandise, and big lines at festivals for people to try their product.

Black Project has won GABF medals for their Wild Ale in 2014, 2015, and this year, as well as been included with other breweries for “Best Of” lists in multiple publications.

“We almost always see an increase in followers on social media and I definitely start seeing emails regarding distribution,” noted co-owner Sarah Howat.

For Great Notion, some negatives from getting too popular too quick is that their local consumers will sometimes have to wait longer for a table or not be able to get Crowlers unless they get to the brewery super early on days when they offer them.

“This will change once we open our new 30-barrel brewhouse facility,” Reiter said.

Howat noted that all press is good press and taking the potential negatives can also be a positive.

“I think we always try to emphasize [to consumers] that time is of equal value and importance when it comes to producing the beer that we do,” Howat added. “It can’t be rushed and we refuse to compromise on that. I think when we are honest with people about our process and the time it takes.

“[Consumers] are more understanding that our distribution is not yet where we’d like it to be.”

Reiter said that Great Notion is shying away from traditional distribution and trying their best to sell most of their beer direct at its brewpubs.

“We love being able to meet the customers ourselves and maintain the quality and relationship,” he said.