This feature started life back in November 2015 with Electric Bear being the first to take part. They were a brand new brewery looking to get their beers into the hands of passionate people who would give honest feedback, in turn helping to raise awareness of their brand.
At that time the people who received samples were chosen by me – more difficult than it sounds as there always had to be a cut off. Conscious about being as fair as possible, I simply based it on people who had been involved with the Craft Beer Hour community the longest. This was the process for the first four breweries who took part (Electric Bear, Gipsy Hill, Northern Alchemy and Purple Moose), until I decided I just had to find a more impartial process.
So I decided to set up a mailing list. The first email, which was for Twisted Barrel Ale samples went out to 146 subscribers. Incredibly it had an open rate of 84%. We now have over 330 subscribers and typically get 80-100 entries per feature.
To date, the people who have taken part in this feature (since it was made open to the public), are: Twisted Barrel Ale, Franklins Brew Co, Beatnikz Republic, Torrside Brewing, Wiper & True, Wild Horse Brewing, Bullfinch Brewery, Two Towers, Toast Ale, UBREW, Eight Arch Brewing, Karkli, Soffles, Serious Pig & Smo Fo, Fierce Beer, Vibrant Forest, Bude Brewery, Wilde Child, DEYA, Pig & Porter, Elusive Brew, Box Social, Wild Weather Ales and most recently using it to give away ten copies of their new volume, Hop & Barley.
Why send samples?
Craft Beer Hour is a focused community of like-minded people, passionate about great beer. It's a brilliant platform to share your story on. Sending out samples has helped lots of breweries to raise awareness of their beers, build relationships with bottle shops, increase their following and find new friends.
"Being involved in Craft Beer Hour really helped raise the profile of Fierce Beer, with many new followers looking to try our products. What really made the difference however was sending sample packs to the ten individuals who were chosen to receive. These guys were tasting the beers live, driving forward critical conversation, and pulled in others to the discussion. This then pushed participants to try the beers themselves after the beer hour too. So the outcome for us was....new customers, new Fierce fans, new brand ambassadors. Craft Beer Hour is a great thing which is made amazing by sending samples out. You will definitely not regret it."
Dave Grant, Fierce Beer
So what's the process?
At a glance
- You commit to sending out a minimum of ten sample packs (to ten different addresses)
- I send an email letting everyone know you're hosting Craft Beer Hour and sending out samples for it
- People who want to enter fill out an online form
- From the entries there is a live draw on Periscope to select the winners
- You receive the names and addresses of the winners and send samples to them directly, ready for the following Tuesday
The process in more detail
The process starts with an email (below are some examples). At this stage you just need to decide to how many people you are sending samples. The minimum is ten (eleven including me). How many samples you include in a pack is up to you, but you must be able to send to at least ten different addresses.
Typically the email is sent on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning. People who receive the email who want to be in the draw simply fill in a form which is must be completed by 4pm that day. To get on the mailing list, subscribers must agree to these terms and conditions which, among other things points out that subscribers must have a visible interest in beer (and not just be interested in freebies).
We generally have 80-90 entries. The recent email for Vibrant Forest generated 108 entries. At 4pm I close the form and print the entries. When I get home I cut them up, put them in a bowl and do a draw live on Periscope around 8pm to determine the winners.
The Periscope draw always takes place on the same day that the email is sent. Once the draw is over, I announce the winners on Twitter. I then email the brewery an invite to a Google Spreadsheet which contains only the winners details.
It's then over to the brewery to send out the samples to the winners, ensuring they arrive by the following Tuesday. Below is an example from Fierce Beer.
Here's a snapshot of the result!
This is a FREE feature.
The only thing I ask for is to also be sent a sample pack.
If you'd like to send out samples on Craft Beer Hour, I'd love to hear your ideas.
Drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message me on Twitter.