Brewing Insights & Tips from Wisconsin Brewers

Craft beer surpassed a 12% share of the U.S. beer market in 2016 and its growth is still on the rise. As new breweries open and the market becomes more crowded, brewers have to be aware of new packaging trends and adapt to consumer demands. We’ve put together the top trends along with advice for emerging brewers or established brewers looking for new insights.


Craft beer is here to stay... join the party!


Brewing, branding, positioning, marketing, packaging... it all needs to work in harmony so that your beer is sought out and indulged by the thirsty masses. Many breweries are finding success and growth by doing the following:


Be authentic. You may be able to create a delicious brew, but what makes you different than the 5,000+ other breweries out there? Communicate your values and your brand’s story in a unique way that gives consumers a compelling reason to choose your beer.


Related: Meet our craft brew expert, Ryan Hall.


Be passionate. Brenner Brewing Company from Milwaukee, WI features artwork of a local artist on each of its beers and also includes a soundtrack featuring local bands. This follows suit with the owner’s passion for not only beer, but supporting the local art community as well.

City Fox beerCity Fox Pale Ale's label features a QR code for the beer's soundtrack and information on the artist that designed the artwork on the beer. - Brenner Brewing Co.

Be adventurous. The sheer volume of flavors and types of craft beers available to consumers continues to grow every day. Brands need to constantly be pushing the boundaries with their beer. Providing niche, seasonal, and limited releases often ups the interest of the adventurous craft beer consumers. The Veil Brewing Company’s release of an extremely limited beer made with Oreo cookies sold out quickly and had consumers anxiously awaiting what the brewery would release next.


Be innovative. To provide the ultimate experience for their customers, beer brands are looking for ways to be more convenient and more environmentally friendly. Sturdier carriers, waterproof cases, swing-top caps, crowlers, handled multipacks for cans, and biodegradable rings are a just a few of the latest packaging options that have been introduced.

Devil's Elbow beerDevil's Elbow IPA - Howe Sound Brewery

Advice and tips from Wisconsin brewers


Ahnapee Brewery

Nick Calaway, Owner & Brewer

Ahnapee Brewery - Algoma, WI



Favorite beer:

That's kind of like asking a parent to pick their favorite child! Today I may be in the mood for a stout, and this weekend I may be geared up for an IPA or two. I really appreciate balanced beer, so I guess that is my favorite beer. It could be a malty beer, a session beer, a sour beer or a hoppy one as long as it's balanced, I'm likely pretty happy drinking it!


What advice would you give to someone wanting to start brewing their own beer?

If someone was looking to start home brewing, I'd recommend to start with extract brewing first. There is less cost involved, it takes less time on brew day to brew, is a great way to get your feet wet and understand the process. They then can add small pieces of equipment, new techniques or just enjoy a couple brews during brew day with only a little extra cost, effort or stress.


Packaging tip:

My best "tip" would be one we learned the hard way. Do your due diligence, plan, look and re-look at your packaging (labels, 6 packs, mother cases, etc) before printing...then look again before printing. Small mistakes, omissions or design flaws will cost you money, time and product.


Great Dane Brewing Co

Dan Weber, Head Brewer

Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company - Wausau, WI



Favorite beer:

Definitely Belgium styles.


What advice would you give to someone wanting to open a brewery?

Make sure you do your research, there’s so much more than just brewing. Try learning from an established facility, take classes, be aware of possible pitfalls, and make sure to pick your partners carefully.


(For more tips for emerging brewers, check out MicroBrewr's 'What I Wish I'd Known Before Starting a Brewery".)


How can an emerging brewery differentiate itself?

Know your customers. It’s important to be yourself, but you need to keep in mind what your consumers want. Two big ways I see brands differentiating themselves are by creating niche products or by securing the front, staying local and not distributing.

(Dan is beginning a new local venture and will soon be opening a distillery in Wausau called Central Time Distillery.)


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