No-Li Brewhouse, the Northern Lights Brewing re-branding effort from craft veteran John Bryant and Brewmaster Mark Irvin, is off to a hot start in its home market of Spokane, Wash.
Bryant, a partner in No-Li, told Brewbound.com that the company sold through 540 cases of its recently released 22-ounce bottle offerings in just three weeks, more than the company’s entire bottle production from last year.
“I’ve been around the business for a while and have never seen anything like that, especially in that small of a geographic footprint,” said Bryant.
So how is No-Li doing it? Bryant credits the company’s dedication to having conversations with its customers.
“When you have defined who you are, you aren’t having conversations. It’s more of a one-way street,” he said. “We are in that stage of evolution where we want to have a conversation with the customer. We want to make amazing, fun beers with a soul that is rooted in the people.”
In No-Li’s first year, Bryant isn’t setting out to achieve a specific barrelage goal, but rather looking to interact directly with 25,000 customers.
“I’m really trying to take the best of what Mark has created, get in front of the customer and listen to them,” he said.
Bryant said they are collecting notes on what customers are saying about the beer, the brand and craft beer in general. From there, the company will refine its image based on what the end consumer wants.
“We are a people driven organization that makes some amazing beer and part of the people are our customers,” he said.
The hope is off-premise hand sampling at grocery stores, bottles shops and beer festivals will eventually drive on-premise business.
“If we get the right bombers, to the people who appreciate the beer, that will build our draft business,” Bryant said.
Bryant is doing most of the sampling, but also tapping into an existing workforce of bartenders and servers at the No-Li Brewhouse and Pub, sending a group out three-to-four days per week to engage the consumer.
“For the first time in a very long time I feel close to the industry in a very different way,” he said.
No-Li will begin sending beer into Northern Idaho this month and will then look to send product to Fort Collins and Denver Colo., and in the fall to Brooklyn, NY.
While the decision to look at Brooklyn as one of the initial markets for No-Li might seem unusual, Bryant explained.
“We want to import brewing culture into Spokane and the only way to do is to take your beer and travel it,” he said. “We also want to take what’s special about the Northwest and export it to Brooklyn.”
If anyone knows how to build brand its Bryant. In past craft brewing stints, he helped groom Deschutes, Odell and Oskar Blues into the successful brands they are today. And if those companies are any indication, No-Li is certainly headed in the right direction.