There is a new crowdfunding campaign by Oregon brewery Awesome Ales to expand, rebrand, open a new brewery, and launch a reserve bottle society in one. This Kickstarter-style campaign on CrowdBrewed.com may be a fermenter and connecting pump too far.
“Kicking the Kickstarter” is a new feature where we profile a new beer-related project that is hoping to raise public funding on websites such as Kickstarter IndieGogo, or in this case, CrowdBrewed. We will analyze the offerings and offer our opinions on the worthiness of the cause.
If you’re not familiar with Awesome Ales, it’s no surprise, I do not know where to find the brewery’s beers on tap and do not recall the last place I saw one. Awesome Ales is the project of previous McMenamins brewer and beer sales guy David Lederfine, by all accounts a well liked and good guy. He launched Awesome Ales in October 2013 as a gypsy brewing operation producing beer out of Seven Brides Brewing in Silverton, Oregon.
With small production and in my opinion a cheesy name and logo, Awesome Ales has not exactly set the local scene on fire, and some of us thought the project was over. Turns out, though, that it was just gearing up for the big CrowdBrewed.com campaign to fund a much more ambitious brewery and a rebranding. Good for him; maybe the rebrand and new brewery will result in much better beers, but it’s in my nature to be skeptical. Awesome Ales beers have in no way had the public buzzing or clamoring for more, but the new funding campaign sets precedence on a bottled beer cellar reserve club of the likes only esteemed beer geek buzz breweries like The Lost Abbey, The Bruery, De Garde, and Ale Apothecary in Oregon can do. In the campaign video posted above, David says himself he had 1.5 days of brewery training at McMenamins. That’s fine, and maybe he will blow us away with his new beers, but its going to be difficult to get people to pony up the cash for a sight unseen and unproven brewery. Not to mention the usual questions of a supposedly proven for-profit company basically asking for donations from the public to fund it to make more money. It’s a proposition that many in the public balk at unless it’s an unusually creative endeavor and/or the creators seem worthy enough.
David and Awesome Ales’ ultimate goal is to open a destination farmhouse brewery, which seems to be all the rage in beer geek circles. However, Awesome Ales has less than 500 likes on facebook and the minimum investment on CrowdBrewed.com is $60 for 2 of their pint glasses. The benefits of investing in the CrowdBrewed campaign get much better with higher investments, but all revolve around bottles of beer from their proposed Cellar Society Club with a goal of raising $35,000 and I fear without any beer geek cred/reputation to lean on, this is asking a lot. $110 for 12 bottles of 22oz farmhouse ales and a 20% discount on merch could be a great deal if the beers are good. I wish Awesome Ales and The Asher David Artisan Ale Project brewery success; though the campaign has only reached $815 raised in 4 days, it still has 37 days to go.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.