The Bruery have been the leaders in direct-to-consumer for the craft beer industry
With The Bruery, membership has its privileges. That is because since their earliest days, The Bruery has offered an industry leading direct-to-consumer subscription program called Societies that offers beer lovers exclusive access to some of the most innovative beers in the industry. I sat down with The Bruery’s CEO Barry Holmes to talk about their Societies, why they proved so valuable in the early days of Covid-19, and what led the company to launch a new brand called Offshoot.
Dave Knox: What is the story behind The Bruery?
Barry Holmes: The Bruery was launched in 2008 mostly around barrel-aged and Belgian inspired beers. While we are not one of your “OG” craft breweries we’ve been around a little while. It started with just The Bruery and then four years ago we launched Offshoot Beer Company, which is focused on mostly hop forward beers and IPAs and is a more playful brand. After 13 years in the market we’ve thankfully built a great reputation among the “beer geek” crowd around the world
In the craft beer space, you get a lot of regionality. Most of the big brands have a heavy tilt toward their region. While we have a lot of demand from California, we get a disproportionate share of business in other parts of the country and the world. We have members all over the country who will drive to CA or DC to pick up their beer, or have us ship directly to them. For the brands we distribute to retail, we have distribution agreements in 28 states
Knox: You mentioned the word “member.” Who are the members of The Bruery?
Holmes: DTC and membership models have not been a big focus for craft beer until the pandemic. Most of that is driven by the three tier system and DTC shipping laws. The Bruery was pioneering in this respect since we’ve had some form of membership in our Societies program for over ten years. Our most popular membership is the Reserve Society, an annual membership where you get a curated selection of exclusive beers and access to other beers throughout the year in addition to events and a discount on-line or in our tasting rooms and Washington, D.C. store. However, the glue to any membership is the community that’s created and ours is no different. Our members connect in person and on-line around our beers which gives it a personal touch.
Knox: The Bruery launched Offshoot nearly a decade after the business started. What led you to launch Offshoot under a separate brand name?
Holmes: The founder, Patrick Rue had been asked for years, when are you going to make an IPA? And because he was doing many more esoteric beers and Belgian inspired beers, he had said off the cuff, “I’m never going to make an IPA.” That got repeated a couple times and when I joined the business, I thought, “well, surely no one’s going to remember that”. Come to find out everyone remembered it …….