Ever wanted a beer brand to call your own? By partnering with a local brewery, you can help create a beer specifically for your pizzeria. While it requires some effort, this collaboration scores a win at every level: Breweries get positive exposure, your pizzeria offers a one-of-a-kind beer, and both benefit from cross-promotional opportunities. Meanwhile, customers are excited to try something new that perfectly pairs with your pizza.
Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom (oldchicago.com), based in Boulder, Colorado, recently partnered with Minnesota-based Summit Brewing Company to create a featured brew called the Cracking Wit witbier. Old Chicago brand manager Jason Murphy gave us the scoop on the process:
Realize you’re taking a risk… The biggest concern is that the beer might not turn out well and may not have a great guest perception. About 95% of the time, the breweries do a great job, but there have been a few duds!
…But the risk can pay off in the long run. We’re always happy when we do an exclusive beer with a brewery and the brewery later launches it as a core or seasonal brand. One of Boulder Beer’s most popular brews, Shake Chocolate Porter, started as an exclusive on an Old Chicago Mini Tour. It gives you a sense of pride, knowing your company had a hand in launching the success of that brand.
Create a tie-in or theme. We base our Mini Tours around themes, whether it’s St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween or our baseball-themed Extra Innings Mini Tour (when a brewery aged a beer over maple baseball bats!). It’s a lot easier to tie the beer back into what you’re doing at the restaurant when everything works together.
Five50 Pizza Bar in Las Vegas partnered with Sin City Brewing Company to create the exclusive Sin City Extra Pale Ale. Photo courtesy Five50 Pizza Bar.
The Brewer’s Perspective
Rich Johnson, master brewer at Sin City Brewing Co., collaborated with Five50 Pizza Bar (aria.com/dining/restaurants/five50-pizza-bar) in Las Vegas’ ARIA Resort & Casino to create the exclusive Sin City Extra Pale Ale. His advice on maximizing the pizzeria-brewer connection:
Choose your partner carefully. The relationship between craft breweries and pizza is a natural—craft beer pairs easily (both from a taste profile and philosophically) with pizza. Both are handcrafted, artisanal products that are bold in flavor, incorporate carefully sourced ingredients, and are limitless in variety of styles to suit a guest’s tastes on different visits. A successful proprietary beer is almost always locally sourced and shares a common clientele between the companies—and the partnership can be viewed as a source of local pride and community ownership.
Look at the big picture (but don’t forget the details). At its simplest, the pizzeria owner and brewer get together to discuss the strengths of each other’s operations and what the pizzeria seeks in its proprietary beer flavor profile. Obviously a brewery wants to broaden its production output and partner with an accommodating, like-minded operation that can be beneficial to its portfolio. More importantly, a pizzeria is a source of greater consumption potential than other types of restaurant operations. Pizza and beer—what else do you need?
Get on the same page. Both partners should have a clear understanding and agreement on expected (and realistic) sales goals. Clarity on what each side wants to achieve with the partnership—financially and even philosophically—is essential. It’s key that they treat each other as partners and that items such as marketing materials, menu inclusion to highlight the partnership, and staff training are utilized to promote the product.