Earlier this month, cars full of indie punk fans headed to Cooperstown, New York, for the rare chance to see Brand New perform at Brewery Ommegang. The crowd of 5,000 happily waited in the rain to file into the outdoor concert area’s open archways and fire torches.
Of the many bands playing at the brewery this summer, Brand New holds a special place in the lineup. The brand released its last album “Daisy” in 2009 and yet maintains a fierce following. The crowd, ranging from younger teens to parents sharing the experience with their children, all had one thing in common—a deep love of the band’s music and the ability to sing along with every word it played.
Recognizing this as a special occasion, Ommegang collaborated with Brand New to co-create a beer inspired by the band. Named Take Forever Ale—a reference to the band taking its time to release new material and book tours—the beer was served at the concert for $5 a plastic cup. Ommegang brewed 20 sixtels of the ale, available only during the weekend’s shows. Take Forever Ale was created as an extension of the performance, making this a special experience exclusively for Brand New’s guests, said Bill Wetmore, General Manager and Director of Marketing at Ommegang Brewery.
This is not Ommegang’s first unexpected collaboration, however. Since 2013, the brewery has released beers inspired by HBO’s Game of Thrones. Those beers were served at select bars in specially made gold-rimmed glasses for the full experience. “This is the first collaboration of its kind,” said Wetmore, at the time. “And it’s important to mention that this is a true collaboration between our companies… Each of the beers has been a group effort with HBO providing the inspiration and our innovation team using style, ingredients and process to make that inspiration into a beer.”
While HBO was its first entertainment industry collaborator, Ommegang has a long history of collaborating with other breweries to create innovative beers. These include Boulevard Brewery of Kansas City and Brouwerij Liefmans of Belgium. Ommegang also worked with Stagecoach Coffee of Cooperstown to produce Joemmegang.
— Brewery Ommegang (@BreweryOmmegang) August 25, 2015
The brewery holds strict standards in the collaboration process. “It is important that we do it in a way that feels true and honest with what is important to us and our values.” said Wetmore. “Qualitatively and stylistically, the beers we create represent the Ommegang name.”
Unlike many beer brands that want to become content distributers, Ommegang has taken a thoughtful approach to how it participates in the customer conversation. Instead of sending thousands of tweets, newsletters and ads in an effort to create a connection with it’s customers, Ommegang’s efforts feel human. Their carefully crafted products become artifacts and extensions of the stories fans love.
Unexpected and wholehearted, the ability to be welcomed into a brand’s torch-lit space to listen to your favorite fallen-off-the-grid band while drinking a beer inspired by them, is a moment that would be near impossible to duplicate anywhere else—and the kind of experience that creates loyal fans for life.