How Craft Beer is Changing Beer Merchandise

February 24,2012 by 9 Comments

Cash register
What do you think you would turn up in Google if you searched “iPhone App Developer” 6 years ago?


The same thing would happen if you looked up “Wii accessories” before 2006.

My point is that with the rise of a new product or industry, there are always beneficiaries outside of the primary ones. When it comes to who benefits from craft beer, you think of the main players – breweries, distributors, beer retailers, and consumers.

But there is another type of business that’s been riding on the coattails of popular brands for years – merchandisers. And although beer merchandise has been around almost as long as commercially produced beer, there’s a noticeable shift going on in what that merchandise looks like thanks to craft beer.

A new basket of goods

What comes to mind when you think of Big Beer merchandise?

For me it’s neon signs, Bud frog t-shirts, and koozies.

It usually appeals to the party crowd or sports fans. That’s not a big surprise since those are common areas for Big Beer marketing bucks. White sandy beaches, tailgates, and back yard BBQs are what these brands try to associate themselves with.

Craft beer merchandise, on the other hand, takes on a different theme. The craft and artistry that goes into craft brewing is reflected in these products. There are dozens of craft beer themed shops on Etsy making everything from beer bottle candles to wallets constructed from old 6-packs.

You see much more food products too, which makes sense because craft beer is much more food friendly compared to macro lagers. How much flavor could Coors Light add to a hot sauce?

Sure there is some overlap. There are t-shirts for Big Beer and there are t-shirts for craft beer. Same goes for branded pint glasses and bottle openers. But overall there’s a shift in the type and quantity of merchandise available for craft beer. Indie breweries have given rise to indie beer products.

I for one think it’s a good thing. When you love a beer or brewery you can show it in ways outside of just drinking the beer. With this new wave of merchandise the possibilities are endless.

Infographic time!

You guys know my skill (not really) with infograhics so I made another. Enjoy, and let me know in the comments what you think about these craft beer products. Do you like them, or do you prefer your Old Milwaukee can-hat?

Big Beer vs. Craft Beer Merchandise Inforgraphic

Linkage: Beer Gear by Mindy, Oskar Blues Hot Sauce, Stone candle

About Billy Broas

He is the founder of The Homebrew Academy, a BJCP beer judge, and the homebrewing expert on the Rocky Mountain PBS television show Colorado Brews. He lives in the fine beer town of Denver, Colorado.

9 responses to “How Craft Beer is Changing Beer Merchandise”

  1. Darren says:

    I love the craft beer products, they are a way of saying you enjoy the beer more than how it tastes. You enjoy what it represents. It’s liking something different, small, and unique. It’s another way of supporting small businesses. Just one more way to stick it to “The Man.” There isn’t that stereotype of just wanting to party and get drunk. They make you seem more mature and refined. It’s also saving the environment, taking an old six pack case and making something new out of it, or reusing an interesting looking bomber to make a candle vase. They are just cool products that are more useful than a giant beer can for a hat.

  2. Billy Broas says:

    Great comments Daren. I also like how craft beer products are making things that are actually useful. The upcycling site is a great example of that. I love craft beer clothing but even more I enjoy the creative items like hot sauces and candles.

  3. I don’t often blatantly self promote….. but… if you haven’t seem my CRAP…. please check it out. I fits nicely into your merchandise blog….under craft…..


    • Billy Broas says:

      Haha the self promotion is totally relevant and totally accepted in this case. Nice website Hannah. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thanks Billy… Send my your mailing address… and I’ll send you some CRAP.


  5. Interesting article, we see less interesting merchandise over here in the UK, mostly the obvious keyrings and hats. I would really like this trend to extend to smaller breweries in the UK, most large breweries here will promote with material but the smaller ones could come up with something much more unique I am sure

    • Billy Broas says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience from the UK. Sounds like there might be an opportunity to bring some craft products to market over there. The barrier to entry is so low these days with sites like Etsy providing the platform, I’m sure you could throw a few things out there and see what sticks.

  6. Dr. Bill Broas says:

    Finally got a distributor for craft and microbrews at Center Street Grill back here at New Town in Williamsburg, Virginia! Represents Dogfish, Stone, and Brooklyn to name a few and need your feedback on what to carry! Give me a list so we can get

    the best out here!

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