When Minneapolis-based Fulton Brewing Company incorporated in 2009 (after humble beginnings in the Fulton neighborhood of Minneapolis) there were “a dozen-ish craft breweries in Minnesota,” points out Tucker Derrick, Marketing Director for Fulton.
“Today, there’s nearly 130, with more in planning, so you can imagine how much the world of craft beer has changed since then.”
Fulton has more than withstood the skyrocketing competition. They’ve grown from a garage (and then another garage) to contract brewing, to opening Minneapolis’s first taproom brewery and then another 51,000 square-foot production brewery in northeast Minneapolis. Of course, that’s to keep up with demand as Fulton sells nearly 21,000 servings of their beer daily across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and North and South Dakota.
Tucker reveals how you can use their ideas to make your brew a success, too, even if you don’t plan to expand your brand past your garage.
Keep your product consistent.
A good beer is made great when it’s the same every time you enjoy it, says Tucker. “If I want to share a beer with a buddy and it’s his favorite, I want to have that same experience every time,” he explains. “There is nothing more sellable than consistency.”
Celebrate your personality.
For Fulton, that’s the regular guy or gal who happens to enjoy good beer. Even though their taproom is in Downtown Minneapolis, the company hasn’t moved far from their Southwest Minneapolis roots, when the founders were just a bunch of good friends who happened to love beer.
“Fulton isn’t about exclusivity, it’s about bringing really quality craft beer to as many people as possible without any sort pretense or membership into a subculture. It’s just, ‘Let’s just make really quality beers,’” says Tucker. “We focus on quality and approachability.”
Make your packaging stand apart.
“If you take pride in what you put in the bottle, you should take pride in how you wrap that bottle,” insists Tucker, noting that 70% of craft beer purchases are made “point of shelf.”
“The decision isn’t made on the way to the liquor store or even walking through the door,” he explains. “It’s made as they’re looking at the shelf. What are you going to do to make your beer stand out?”
“Obviously, a home brewer isn’t competing for shelf space, but if you care about what you put in the bottle, you should care about how it looks on the outside. It provides a perception of value from the handmade to the handcrafted.”
But, he points out that packaging can only go so far. “Quality starts from the inside and if you get that right, it’s up to you to do it right on the outside,” says Tucker.
Want to see – and taste – for yourself what makes Fulton one of Minnesota’s leading breweries? Be sure to join Craftapped, a Minnesota craft beer club, and Desktop Labels at 7 p.m., April 13th, when Craftapped makes a Desktop Labels-sponsored visit to the Fulton Taproom, 414 6th Ave. N. Minneapolis.