by Hilary Oliver
New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, CO calls their use of the bicycle as a marketing tool ?one of the greatest unplanned successes of the brewery.? And they’re not the only ones who?ve capitalized on the increasing popularity of bicycling. Dozens of beer companies are jumping on the bandwagon?er, bicycle. ?I’m not sure why there’s a connection between both worlds, but it’s undeniable that there is,? says Daniel Bellon, an art director and author of the new book Cool Beer Labels, The Best Art & Design From Breweries Around the World.
Maybe it’s because bicycles conjure a sense of whimsy and fun. ?We like to think bikes remind people of how simple and fun it is to be outside, with a smile on your face and a good beer in your hand,? explains the New Belgium website. But surely it’s also because people feel a connection to their bikes. When they see a bicycle on a label, they already feel a sense of inclusion, as if that beer was made specifically for them.
“The dream of any brand is to connect with a consumer on a personal level,? Daniel says. ?Brands like Nike, Apple and BMW spend millions of dollars trying to achieve that connection. Making the consumer feel like they are part of something, like they are members of a club, or a family. With bicycling, that concept already exists. We are a family. We already feel like we are part of a club. Be it road riding, or mountain biking, or recreational riding, we all share a passion.”
But consumers can smell gimmicks and inauthenticity from a mile away, Daniel says. ?This connection only happens if the consumer feels that the brewery is honest and really embraces bicycling.
Thankfully for bike-riding beer drinkers, a multitude of small breweries share an authentic love for two-wheeled transportation. And while most bike-themed beers are popular where you?d expect, Daniel says?like California, the Pacific Northwest and Colorado?they’re starting to pop up everywhere. Including Lakefront Brewery‘s Fixed Gear American Red Ale (Milwaukee, WI) and Pedal Pale Ale from East End Brewing Company (Pittsburgh, PA).
La Consigne Beer Chope in Montreal, QC is a microbrewery whose logo is a bike wrench with a built in bottle opener. ?Another interesting one is Malteni Beer, ” says Daniel. “Their name is a play off the legendary Molteni cycling team from the 1970s. Their bottle labels feature iconic cycling jerseys: Yellow Jersey for their blonde beer, the World Champion rainbow jersey for their wheat beer and the classic Molteni jersey for their signature amber beer. They also sponsor a cyclocross team.?
With bicycling increasing in popularity across the U.S., the community of people who identify with bikes on beer labels will be growing, too. ?They say cycling is the new golf and beer is the new wine,? Daniel says. ?Maybe there’s something there.?