Market research can be fun, especially when you check out a local microbrewery. Really, last Saturday was all about doing marketing research at the Old Mecklenburg Brewery right here in Charlotte. I made sure I did an in-depth marketing study of OMB checking out their operation and of course, it did include some sampling of the products they produce. After all you can’t do a complete review without sampling the products.
A little Background
OMB was started by John Marino, a transplant from Boston. He recognized a need in Charlotte for its own microbrewery and launched OMB in 2007 and began producing beer in 2009. The first year they produced just over 1,000 barrels and this year expect to produce almost 11,000 barrels. The flagship beers are the OMB Copper and Captain James Jack Pilsner. In addition they have seasonal beers featured throughout the year.
Currently the brewery is housed in an old warehouse. At the brewery is their Brauhaus and Tap Room that features additional specialty brews. The Brauhuas and tap room is open 7 days a week and they offer free tours Friday night, Saturday afternoons and Sunday afternoons. A light menu of food is available, but the main feature is the beer.
What brought OMB to my attention was a Charity event. The event I attended raised money for a project that provided special needs dogs to Vets. OMB was a participant, donating all the revenue from beer sold at this event to the charity. While speaking with the OMB sales person, another gentleman came up and asked about a donation for a private charity event to raise money for a boy with Cystic Fibrosis. The sales person did not hesitate and told the gentleman they would gladly donate gift certificates for the event.
This caused me to want to learn more about them and attracted me to visit their facility.
What Old Mecklenburg Brewery Does Right
Good Product Made with Quality Ingredients. The beers crafted at OMB are crafted using only 4 ingredients (barley, hops, water and yeast) in accordance with Reinheitsgebot. If you are not familiar with that term it is the oldest Beer Purity Law in the world and dates back to 1516. The taste and quality of the end product is a result of the care and ingredients used in the process.
While there I sampled the Copper, Captain Jack Pilsner, Rein Pale Ale and the Brauhaus Reserve. The Copper is a smooth amber ale with a copper color and a smooth taste. The Captain Jack Pilsner, is a great lighter summer beer and has a refreshing smooth taste. The Rein pale Ale is one of the more bitter beers that is served and reminds me more of an IPA. Since I am not a fan of IPA’s this was my least favorite (but had no problems finishing it off). The last beer I sampled was the Brauhuas Reserve, which was described as having a smoky flavor. When tasting it, I thought I was tasting a beer with a hint of coconut. At first I thought it was my taste buds, but my wife thought the same.
The commonality of all the beers is the fresh ingredients they use which results in some great beer to enjoy whether it is the OMB Copper, Captain Jack or one of their seasonal ales.
Charitable Giving. It is obvious that being an active participant in charity events is a core a value of OMB. When you look at their calendar or when you drop into their facility, you will see several scheduled charitable fund raisers. These range from small fund raisers like the one I attended last week to much larger fund raisers sponsored by OMB themselves. Being part of the community and having an active calendar to give back to the community builds goodwill and brand loyalty. It makes you want to support the company, knowing that it is not just about the product and profit.
Great Atmosphere The Brauhaus is housed in a refurbished old factory and is great place to sit back and relax. It is lined with high top tables and long bench tables. There is nothing pretentious about the place and when the weather is nice you can sit outside at one of the tables. Every Wednesday and Friday they have live music, every Sunday is a bike up where you can ride and then enjoy some beer. A couple of times a month is Cigar Night with Outland Cigars.
It is obvious that John Marrino has a plan for future growth and is working that plan. He has a great product and is building a loyal following. While enjoying my visit to OMB I was struck by the missed opportunity to collect contact information from all the visitors at OMB. While a number are regulars, there are many like me, where this was my first visit.
I plan on going back, enjoying the atmosphere, and purchasing their product, however we all have busy lives. More than likely, for most it will slip to the back. OMB should consider more actively collecting email address from as many visitors to the Brauhaus and other events to grow their database.
A database can be one of the most valued asset that a business owns. Once they have the contacts name and email address they can deliver their marketing and promotional message directly to the customer. An automated email marketing campaign can be one of the most inexpensive and cost effective marketing methods available to a business owner.
The challenge is always growing the database and OMB has a perfect opportunity to build a very large database and conduct some great follow-up marketing and promotional campaigns to folks like me where life sometimes gets in the way of kicking back, having fun and enjoying a beer in a beer hall right here in Charlotte.
Like many I have my phone with me all the time and receive emails directly to the phone. On a Friday or Saturday afternoon, as I am planning on making a beer purchase and I receive a promotional coupon from OMB I am more likely to consider their beer as I head out to the store. It could well be the tipping point as a I, and others like me, peruse the many choices in beer alley of a grocery store.
For the beer I give it a five star rating and for the food, I would give it a 3 start ranking. A little over priced but okay tasting. Nothing outstanding, just something to eat while you sample the main event. It is definitely worth checking out their beers and the Brauhaus tap room.