For three years, Archetype Brewing’s Bottle Club provided members with special packaged releases, private tastings and other perks. Today, the brewery’s braintrust is ready for something new.
“We want our taproom to extend into people’s living rooms and we want people to think of our taproom as their living room,” says Drew Fowler, Archetype’s marketing director. “The Bottle Club, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic and partly due to pricing, meant that we were not engaging our customers … as much as we wanted to. We wanted more reasons to get together. More reasons to celebrate. More reasons to drink beer.”
Thus arose the Archetype Beer Club, which seeks to build on the successes of Bottle Club while shedding that initiative’s more limiting components. Gone are the timeline and quantity requirements that often made Bottle Club a headache for the staff. The need for the brewery’s bartenders to remember the club’s numerous details is also a thing of the past, thanks to a partnership with Greenville, S.C.-based software company Indulj, whose app serves as the hub for all of Beer Club’s information and redemption options.
With those less appealing elements eliminated or streamlined, and with Beer Club doubling down on celebrations, the Archetype team will have more freedom to be creative, pivot and surprise its most loyal customers with specialty brews, exclusive benefits and unique experiences.
“Basically, it’s the best of both worlds without as much of the stress on us,” Fowler says.
Beer Club memberships are $175 per person, accepted on a rolling basis and last for one year from sign-up. The list of perks (which went into effect on Jan. 1) features plentiful gatherings that make use of both of the brewery’s Asheville taprooms, including exclusive events at Archetype – North’s Tap Lounge and a massive annual party on July 26 to celebrate the birthday of Carl Jung, the inventor of archetypes and a large part of the Beer Club backstory.
Fowler admits that, at first glance, the rundown may appear a little too heavy on events.
“I think a lot of people read the benefits and kind of think, ‘Where’s the beer?’ But it’s everywhere,” he says. “We focused more on the experiences in our announcement, but all of the experiences include beer. I think our members will love the different brews we provide them with throughout their membership.”
Additional rewards include a customized Archetype Beer Club branded hat with one’s individual membership number. And $25 from the membership fee will be donated to the brewery’s current N0H8 nonprofit partner, The Campaign for Southern Equality. As of press time, Beer Club memberships have raised $600 for the cause.
“I’m also excited about all the chances to get our customers out of their seats and into our brewery’s production setup,” Fowler says. “Whether joining us for canning days, staff tasting sessions, brewing beers, helping to name beers and barrels or even writing the messages printed on the bottom of cans, customers will have more access than ever.”
Despite these new and improved aspects, Beer Club remains one of just a few local opportunities of its kind. New Belgium Brewing Co.’s Cellar Club and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s Alpha Hop Society remain active, though endeavors by Hi-Wire Brewing and Sideways Farm & Brewery have gone dormant.
The scarcity of such groups makes sense to Fowler, who notes that beer and bottle clubs create complications that don’t have to exist without them. He adds that the cost-benefit analysis can make them seem unnecessary and that living in Asheville with its U.S.-leading breweries per capita is already akin to being in a beer club without the dues.
“That’s why our Beer Club is focused so heavily on experiences,” Fowler says. “If you love beer, why not brew it? If you love beer, why not taste the beer with the guy who brewed it? If you love beer, why not party with people who love it, too? For us, it comes back to our mission. We want our taprooms to be a community hub. Beer brings people together — why not invite as many people into that story as possible?”
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In the words of Peter “Spider-Man” Parker’s uncle Ben, great power comes with great responsibility, and as Asheville’s longest-running craft brewery, Highland Brewing Co. is no stranger to newer industry peers looking to its team for guidance on various matters.
Along with making quality beer and operating with an independent, family-owned approach for nearly 30 years, Highland has been generous with charitable giving — most recently with the second yearly “Give Back with Gaelic” campaign, which supports the hospitality industry across the brewery’s Southeast distribution footprint.
“We have deep roots in the Western North Carolina community and beer on shelves and on tap across five states,” says Leah Wong Ashburn, Highland’s president and CEO. “With this campaign, we wanted to share our values and impact the people and communities wherever our beer is sold.”
In collaboration with its wholesalers over the last four months of 2021, the brewery raised $20,000 from sales of its flagship Gaelic Ale and donated the funds to seven nonprofits. That number is down from 12 beneficiaries in 2020, a narrowing that Ashburn says was enacted to increase the campaign’s impact.
The N.C. Restaurant Workers Relief Fund, Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina and Second Harvest Food Bank received aid within the state, while the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, Virginia Restaurant and Hospitality Relief Fund, Tennessee Action for Hospitality and Georgia-based The Giving Kitchen also benefited from the initiative.
“We worked with these same nonprofits last year and are now honing in on one per state outside of North Carolina,” Ashburn says. “The initial selections were based on recommendations from our wholesale partners and our own conversations with each organization to gain understanding and energy behind the effort.”
Wherever possible, the funds will go to support hospitality worker relief funds created by these organizations over the last two years. Some of the beneficiaries, like Giving Kitchen and Tennessee Action for Hospitality, are wholly focused on providing support and grants to hospitality workers.
“The campaign came out of our desire to support our colleagues in the hospitality industry amid all of the volatility of the pandemic,” Ashburn says. “More than two years later, the world looks different, and our giving will also evolve. We will continue to give and have announcements to come.”