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Belgian Beer Brews Crafty Creations

Belgian Beer Brews Crafty Creations

Among the legends of the diamond, you will find a gem of a brewery near the birthplace of baseball.  A team of brewers have created a line of craft beers that pleases the palate and allows drinkers to connect with their favorite films and sports through taste.

Brewery Ommegang commemorates a historical figure of a different kind. King Charles V, leader of the Holy Roman Empire, visited Brussels in 1549. His arrival led to the first “Ommegang” Festival in the current capital of Belgium. It also serves as the inspiration for Brewery Ommegang, the northeast region’s most successful craft beer centers.

Three Philosophers, Hennepin Saison, and Rare Vos are just some of the unique names for Belgian style beers that appear in a 750-milliliter cork-finished bottle. These beers can also be effectively paired with gourmet dinner favorites such as lamb chops, shrimp scampi or clams.

Bill Wetmore, general manager and director of marketing for Brewery Ommegang, said he is committed to creating products and partnerships that will enhance the selling of the Belgian-based products.

You can contact Brewery Ommegang at (607) 544-1800, or visit their website www.ommegang.com.

“When we began, [there were] very few breweries in the market of Belgian-style beers. Today, we are in nearly 45 states,” Wetmore said. “We have always had a successful regional footprint, but our portfolios are geared towards both a mainstream drinker of craft beers, as well as those niche consumers who are passionate about a specific style.”

Brewing diversity and brand naming are staples at Brewery Ommegang. Nirvana IPA, Glimmerglass, Grains of Truth and Hopstate NY are some of the catchy titles and flavors that pay homage to various locations and traditions throughout the northeast. But, recent agreements with HBO’s Game of Thrones and the National Hockey League’s New York Islanders have enhanced Brewery Ommegang’s beer presence.

The Game of Thrones flavors are related to specific characters or scenes within the show, and this has led to a successful cross-marketing campaign between the two franchises. Brewery Ommegang has been granted craft beer pouring rights within the Barclays Center, and it has an agreement to be one of the official craft beers of the New York Islanders. Marketing strategies such as these bring in more fans for each organization represented, but can extend the Ommegang brand to further its reach both regionally and nationally.

“We have also tried to expand our usage of social media as well with the kinds of postings we do,” Allison Capozza, publicity manager for Ommegang, said. “It is a trial and error process, but this allows for the creativity to connect our relationship with our fans and potential guests to our brewery.”

Capozza helps to carry out several of the market strategies produced by the Ommegang team, and this facilitates an expansion of the brand and its access to craft drinkers throughout their target areas.

New York City is the top market for Ommegang, followed by Massachusetts, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  There are several players in the game, but they have been able to carve out their interest groups by winning awards in recent European and World Beer Cup competitions.

“Our goal is to be New York State’s most loved craft brewery,” says Wetmore.  “We like to show our loyal customers how blessed we are for their patronage by creating exclusive sets, limited release beers, as well as high end beverages that are geared towards their interests and love of Belgian beer.”

Refined craft-beer drinkers are often lured by classic wheat beers and IPAs that come in more traditional casings. Over time, they seem to advance their curiosity to some of the traditional Belgian styles Ommegang feature.

“We hope to inspire those early exploratory craft drinkers, bringing them into the Ommegang family,” says Wetmore.

This developed curiosity in all Ommegang products starts with the droves of visitors the brewery receives over the summer. Fans flock to Cooperstown for various baseball-related festivities at the Hall of Fame.

“The visitation to the brewery leads our peak period from May to October, in which we receive 75 percent of our visits at that time,” Wetmore said.  “But, if you talk about the business of our beers in bars and supermarkets, that remains very balanced throughout the year with various seasonal products.”

The triangle of Syracuse, Albany and Binghamton is a market territory that is littered with craft and micro-breweries. So, it’s essential that Ommegang remain competitive in all its target areas, including the larger northeast corridor. Free brewery tours and $5 tastings make for a very entertaining and affordable visit to Brewery Ommegang.  The extensive merchandise and café featuring a full-bar of their products makes this a must see destination throughout the year.

About The Author

Tim Ferguson

Graduate Student - Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications Magazine, Newspaper & Online Journalism - Sports Concentration Emphasis University at Albany (SUNY) '05&'06, MCLA '13

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