I could claim that 2015 was the year of craft beer, but let’s be honest: this isn’t the first year we’ve seen enormous growth in this market.

Consistently, over the last several years, craft brewers have seen double-digit growth in volume and market share. In fact, every day more than two new craft breweries open their doors.

It’s not surprising then, that this advancement has acted as a launch pad for strong concepts (beyond craft) that consumers are more open to than ever.

Our client Smart Beer is a good indicator of this attitude. Media authorities have offered support for its organic and healthy living brand proposition – something the market has only begun to dabble in. Buzz Bin Image 12.15.15.2

With this in mind, I’ve compiled what I believe are some of the smartest marketing launches in beer (packaging, storage, production and actual beer) in 2015.

  1. Ommegang Game of Thrones Three Eyed Raven Dark Saison Ale – Although not the first of its kind, this partnership continued showcasing a genius method for authentically tapping into a cult following. As Tameka Davis previously said, Ommegang intelligently built a quality beer into a highly current and covered fan favorite.
  2. Oskar Blues Brewery Crowlers – Oskar Blues increased distribution of its new can growlers this year, which it says offers brew lovers the best tasting beer possible. Its partnership with the Ball Corporation has enabled Oskar Blues to elevate its brand to one that’s innovating in beer packaging. Although, you could argue that its marketing position is based on a very niche consumer issue they manufactured themselves (large, bulky glass growlers that let light in and ruin beer).
  3. Bud Light Smart Fridge – This first-to-market beer fridge marries consumers’ mobile habits with their age-old need for cold beer. AB InBev leveraged a universal truth – embarrassing or not – and delivered to market a no duh, affordable product at the perfect time – during football and before the holidays. While the communications strategy and messaging may be a little bro (VIDEO), let’s be honest, that’s who Bud Light represents.
  4. The Pico – Craft beer isn’t the only beer sector growing. In 2013 homebrew sales jumped 10%. That’s why PicoBrew’s new at-home brew system comes at the right time, and with a creative business model that rewards breweries with royalties to make their recipes not so secret. Though the product isn’t completely in market, their launch strategy – a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter – was on point for this market, which often operates on WOM.lululemon
  5. Lululemon Curiosity Lager No matter the mixed media headlines, I think this limited edition announcement (via instagram) was brilliant. Eliminating taste for a minute, this announcement challenged the status quo. It got people talking about Lululemon, it generated widespread media coverage and it reinforced the brand’s commitment to its yogi consumer.

So are athletics companies the future beer leaders of America? Probably not.

Will Bud Light send beer to the moon? I wouldn’t put it past them.

Whether or not these launches are practical, they captured the public’s attention, drove sales and got people talking.

What do you think of them?