The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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january/february 2015  /  the tasting panel  /  65 A United Brew Collaborations between breweries create some of the most exciting beer on the market today; add in a partnership that crosses country borders and you'll have our taste buds on the edge of their seat. Newcastle's first release of its new "Collaboration Editions" program, a Scotch Ale—produced with Caledonian, which is based in Edinburgh, Scotland—did not disappoint. This "wee heavy" beer (6.4% ABV) begins with lay- ers of toffee and caramel, which are offset by roasted, woody notes. A slight bite of hops (40 IBUs) balance out the malt, and the beer finishes with a nice burn of alcohol on the palate. It just goes to show that great things happen when brewers put their heads together.—Emily Coleman a separate website and produced other related shorts starring Elizabeth Hurley and Zachary Quinto. The evolution towards digital marketing was also, in part, a necessity. "In a medium like television, we just don't have the budget to reach enough people with frequency," according to Steen. Digital media helps circumvent this problem. Using celebrities in the videos helps Newcastle earn "views" on their YouTube channel, but also gener- ates other hits when the content is shared and talked about in other media outlets, reaching a viral peak that's a big part of modern marketing. No Bollocks with the Modern Consumer Digital media is also a beeline to the traditional target demographic of most beer brands: men ages 21 to 29. Young adults in this age group are the most likely to "cut the cord" and turn their backs on watching broadcast and cable TV, opting instead to view content on computers, tablets and web-enabled television sets. This all fits in nicely with Newcastle's ongoing "No Bollocks" campaign, where marketing and advertising tricks themselves are laid bare and a more straight-talking approach is employed. The strategy has paid off for Newcastle. On the "If We Made It" campaign alone, Newcastle got roughly double the number of views that they would have been able to afford had they employed traditional media. Add to that the attention garnered when news outlets and other websites published around 600 mentions of Newcastle's unique approach, and it is estimated that the reach of the cam- paign is well over 1.4 billion impres- sions, according to Steen. Traditional media even played a role in amplifying the digital content when "If We Made It" appeared on such television shows as Conan, Entertainment Tonight and The Today Show. Newcastle's 100% digital strategy is also being employed for the launch of a series of "collaboration editions" that pair Newcastle's brewing expertise with that of some of Europe's oldest and finest breweries. The first edi- tion, released in November 2014 and continuing for a limited run through February 2015, is a Scotch Ale created and brewed at Scotland's Caledonian brewery, a sister property of Newcastle. The digital ads feature actor and beer aficionado Wil Wheaton extolling the virtues of both himself and the product, while text that humorously responds to and sometimes contradicts his script flashes on the screen. Even Wheaton's quote in the official press release is irreverent: "Basically, Newcastle and Caledonian made a kick-ass beer that does not suck." "The only thing we really take seriously is our beer," says Steen. "We wanted to bring out all the great things that Caledonian brewery does. They still brew their beer in the same open copper kettles that they've been using since 1869. They still use open flame to heat the kettles, and they use open fermentation and only the finest local malts and whole-flower hops." The result is a rich yet balanced beer that is both malty and refresh- ingly hoppy. "We want to bring our regular Newcastle Brown Ale drinkers something different to try when they are seeking a bit of variety, but we also want to attract new consumers into the Newcastle fold by offering a bolder beer that will appeal to a wider variety of beer drinkers." There is more to look forward to in 2015 as Newcastle builds on their digital media success. In January, we can expect a sequel of sorts to the "If We Made It" series, and plans are in the works to riff on Independence Day again by highlighting some of the great things about Great Britain, whose greatest contribution to beer is, of course, Newcastle Brown Ale.

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