Sacramento-area breweries sell thousands of barrels of beer per year. But how well do they sell themselves?
Marketing adviser Scott Kolbe judged 70 area breweries on their social media followings, websites, emails, brand individuality and miscellaneous other criteria to form an aggregate "storytelling score."
To hear Kolbe tell it, Track 7 Brewing Co.'s website is pretty much perfect. The Curtis Park-based brewery's site checked every box Kolbe looked for, including an age gate, being mobile-friendly and having an events calendar. That along with social media channels that reach more than 38,000 combined users helped Track 7 earn a 96 percent storytelling score.
Hoppy Brewing Co. was right behind Track 7 at 95 percent, while Yolo Brewing Co. (91 percent) and Bike Dog Brewing Co. (84 percent) also finished near the top. Knee Deep Brewing Co. had just eight of the 19 things Kolbe looked for, but earned an 80 percent score on the back of its 47,000 social media users.
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The breweries with the worst branding tended to be relatively longstanding watering holes on the region's outskirts, content to rely on in-the-know locals' business instead of expanding their reach. That included Jack Russell Farm Brewery out of Camino, which turns 21 this year and had a storytelling score of just 6 percent, as well as 13-year-old Placerville Brewing Co. (13 percent).
A few newcomers outside city limits such as Dunloe Brewing (19 percent) and Waterman Brewing Co. (23 percent) also struggled out of the gate, which Kolbe said could be fatal in a region filled with so many quality beer options. New breweries need to have a clear message of what makes them unique or risk getting lost in the shuffle, he said.
"I feel like they've obviously got a passion for their product, and at some point they need to be equally passionate about the marketing of their story," Kolbe said. "When you don't have a blueprint, then you just throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. That not only costs money but can damage your brand reputation."
A Chico resident who previously worked as Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.'s communications manager, Kolbe said the Sacramento area's rapid craft beer expansion piqued his professional interest. He expects Sacramento's craft beer scene to eventually rival that of larger markets such as the Denver metropolitan area, he said.
The 70 breweries examined in the study averaged a 57 percent storytelling score, with Device Brewing Co. hitting the mean dead-on. For a synopsis of Kolbe's findings, click here. A 73-page analysis available as a $200 PDF dives into greater detail.
The Bee's Benjy Egel is launching a new effort to cover Sacramento's dining and beer scene. Please send tips and story ideas by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @BenjyEgel or by phone at (916) 321-1052.