Friday, January 4, 2008

Solas Distillery a.k.a Upstream

So my Uncle brings in a page from the Weird Herald yesterday for me to read on Upstream and their addition of distilling and bottling to their line up. First thing I wanted to tell my Uncle is that he should read our blog, but that is a little too much to expect, not everyone has figured out this blog thing and I get that. Second thing and what I said was, thank you.

Zac is on a media blitz so to speak lately. He was recently featured on The Brewing Network discussing these same things, he had some information and a recipe published in the homebrewing magazine Brew Your Own this month, he has been in the Weird Herald now and of course been mentioned on here. I hope this company takes off and I will be the first one in line buying some Vodka and Rum when they come out later this year.

When reading the article keep in mind that the journalist has no idea what she is talking about and confuses the situation a little. It is a poorly written article, in my mind, for a professional to put out. I have an excuse why my "articles" are littered with grammatical and spelling errors, I sell insurance and drink a lot. Here is the quote that got me, this is her quote of Zac.

"In brewing you take grain and you batch that to get the sugars."

We all know Zac did not say "batch," you mash the grain to get the sugars. That and calling him hoochmaster showed a little lack of respect for the craft. She wouldn't have compared the wine of a wine maker to Mad Dog 20/20 so why equate making fine craft alcohol, be beer or spirits, to hooch? It just shows how far the industry needs to come. To Zac's credit he didn't bite and left the poor attempts at humor alone.

To get back on track though, it is great news and great to see the press for Zac. I see good things for these guys this year and can't wait to see the final result. I am sure Zac will sleep when he is dead.

Now if we can just get the locals to write an article on the Nebraska Lambic project we could really be on a roll. BTW Zac, I want a bottle, so let us know when that comes out. :-)

Photo courtesy of the Omaha World Herald


nickspies said...

Good information.... I've been wanting to know the details of the their timeline, and the line-up of their distillery and distribution brewery.

Eric said...

Does anybody else think it is a terrible idea for them to give the new bottling line a different brand name? C'mon, it won't translate to other markets? If you can't market an existing successful brand, then there is something wrong with your marketing, not your brand. Even though they're starting to become well-known to the wider beer community, they'll be starting from square one with the new brand.

Let's say I'm a casual beer drinker who enjoys upstream and got excited to try the new bottling line after reading this article in OWH. I'll just file the name of the new brand into my memory so that I'll know it when I see it on the shelves. But, oh wait, what was the name? That's right, it didn't even make it into the article. Why? Because four names for a company is too many.

I guess it ensures that there'll be lots more billable hours of work for their marketing consultant.

I think it is ok to go with a new brand for the spirits, but I'd still make sure "Upstream" was displayed somewhere prominently on the bottle.

Nate B. said...

I understand where you are coming from and I can't say that I totally understand it but there has been a pretty successful example of this in our state already, Empyrean Ales ring a bell.

This isn't a common practice though so I am not sure if it is the right idea. Maybe they just didn't like the Upstream name for the beers and would rather get something with more marketability. Maybe they wanted to differentiate between the restaurant and beer so it would be easier to get into other brewpubs, or maybe they just did it because they wanted to.

Keep in mind you will never or rarely see the Quaff name much like you don't see the InBev name or the Diageo name prominently displayed. You will see Solas and the new beer name and that will be it.

Thanks for the comments though, all great and valid points for sure and the point of this blog!

Brother Matthew said...

I spoke with Nichole for about a half hour yesterday. She's not so bad, quite enthusiastic actually. A lot better than some other journalists I've talked with around the the guy in Arizona that asked my what IPA was...I think the hooch comment is funny. I don't have much interest in vodka...flavorless alcohol? give me a hooch IV please... ;)

As for the name change, its not a terrible idea, but rather a good and necessary one, if I'm correct in my assumption of Zac's goals for the brand.

A lot of the growth for high end beers lies with restaurants. Not too many restaurants are going to want to carry a product that bears the name of one of their competitors. That is the main reason why Empyrean is Empyrean and not Lazlo's Brewing Company. Its more business. But, make no mistake, what Zac is doing is much different than Empyrean.

If the beers are to be marketed outside of Nebraska(or even outside of Omaha), it makes sense to change the name so they can build the brand from scratch. Some people have heard of and are familiar with Upstream, but the majority of people aren't...or maybe only know it as someplace they ate dinner that made their own beer. Those that already know Upstream for their beer, aren't going to be confused by this. The market for Zac's beers lies with people that haven't already bought them. There are a lot more of those around than those that have, so the new brand won't effect those people at all. You've got to look to the future to build your business and that is exactly what Zac and the Upstream crew are doing.

Its really something quite different than 'brewpub' beer anyway, so it makes perfect sense that it should be its own brand. The current Upstream logos aren't so great for beer labels, so instead of remaking the whole company, they are just creating a new brand where they have no limits. It is the right choice.

Good Luck, Zac!


Nate B. said...

Thanks Matt, a much better explanation and along what I was thinking for sure. As for Nicole, glad you have insight, I just didn't think the Q and A thing read very well but it did get the point across, to the casual reader, very well. Hey, I ain't a vodka guy either or really a hard liquor guy but I am a Nebraska guy so I will buy some for the novelty if nothing else.

CJ said...

I think it will be interesting to watch what Upstream and more specifically Zac does over the next 10 years. I do like Scotch Whiskey and Bourbon so I will be sure to buy some thing that Zac produces from the distillery. No vodka for me though.

I don't claim to know much about the business world. So, I just tend to follow what Matt thinks....well most of the time. Ha ha

Peace out