On a recent Friday, the crew from marketing agency Blue Ion spent the morning brewing beer at Holy City Brewing, one of its branding clients.
The collaboration was a way to provide a team-building experience for Blue Ion's employees while marking the launch of their new outdoor division called Outpost. By choosing to make and release craft beer, Blue Ion was effectively branding itself as a cool agency that works on hip projects.
"There was already a collaboration with Holy City," says art director Tyler Pate, who illustrated and designed the label for the resulting beer, called Way Out There. "We already had the name and wanted something to represent that idea."
On Pate's label, lush native plants and colorful birds surround the hand-lettered "Way Out There." The beer is a hibiscus Gose, pink in hue and sour in taste, that will be debuted at an event on July 13 at Holy City Brewing. The beer comes in a crowler, basically a hybrid can and glass growler, that you can get at Holy City.
Chris Brown of Holy City says they do collaborations for a variety of reasons. "There is some marketing value, especially with Way Out There. It was brewed with Blue Ion and they are coming up with some really cool art and marketing material. But for the most part, we do them because they are fun."
Lots of beer collaborations have been going on of late. The South Carolina Aquarium partnered with Pawleys Island Brewing Co. to create What The Shell!, described as a non-traditional pilsner, as a fundraiser for the Sea Turtle Care Center, which receives 25 percent of sales.
Revelry Brewing teamed up with the The Darling Oyster Bar to craft Beach Bod, a summer beer with citrus notes that is meant for drinking on the beach and on the boat. In this case, the idea was hatched in a series of meetings between the brewers and the restaurant owners where they also decided on beer can design and flavor profiles. The resulting beer was launched at a summer solstice party, providing crossover marketing opportunities for both the brewery and the restaurant.
Probably the biggest beer collaboration going on in Charleston, though, is within the Charleston Brewery District, an area north of town where a handful of breweries have opened in recent years. The first collaboration debuted last March and the most recent one is the Cooper River Brewing edition, which is a summer blonde ale with blueberries.
This is a collaboration on an epic level as a large group of brewers work to make the beer, which serves ultimately to brand that part of town as the Charleston Brewery District. Each brewery will get the opportunity to brew a collaboration beer and host a launch party.
"Breweries do collaboration beers for different reasons," says Brandon Plyler of Edmund's Oast. "Sometimes two or more breweries want to combine their style of brewing or maybe even specific beer recipes with that of a brewery they have a relationship with. Sometimes it can be just a cool factor thing."
Possibilities for collaborations are endless as companies and organizations hop into the tank and craft their own creations, whether it's for marketing and promotion or raising money. With Eff Cancer, a limited-edition beer that Home Team BBQ made with Edmund's Oast Brewing, they ended up raising more than $20,000 for Hogs for the Cause, proving that beer can be a crafty way to get attention.