How to Run A Successful Launch Party

Learn how fresh breweries are getting a kickstart on opening day with a well-planned launch party.

When your brewery is about to open its doors, you have a unique, one-time opportunity to be the “new kid on the block” and garner interest and awareness for your business. Don’t waste it. Consider planning and executing a launch party to spread the good news about your brewery and taproom, and invite locals, avid fans, and casual followers to experience the newest spot in town.

Not sure where to begin? The following information will help you identify priorities, tackle your to-do list, and create an event that will put your brewery front and center and top of mind long after the party ends.


The Importance of Party Prep

We’ll get to some tasks and checklist items below, but need to start with the obvious: You absolutely, positively MUST have your brand, niche, website, social presence and all other business deliverables and decisions made and in place before the launch, and ideally, at least 6-8 months beforehand.

Without these critical components, your event will be doomed before it even begins. After all, it doesn’t make much sense to focus your time and energy on a celebration of your brewery if you haven’t determined an identity for it. It would be like hosting a first birthday party for a child you don’t have, yet. Dot your I’s and cross your T’s and then get to the festivities. It will be well worth your efforts.

To help you identify your brand, we have developed a brewery business questionnaire designed to identify the important questions your business should answer. We recommend that you pick that up, if you’re struggling with this step.

Leading Up to the Big Day

Prior to your brewery’s opening, you should have a pretty good idea of timing and which dates might work best for you. Use that information to your advantage and begin event preparation at least 3-5 months before opening day. We suggest starting with a clear event objective or outcome. By determining what you consider success criteria – like a significant jump in social media followers, blog coverage of the event or an increase in merchandise sales – you’ll be able to gauge the effectiveness of the party based on your own standards and metrics. And remember, your event can have benefits that extend far past one night of fun. Think of additional objectives like

brand awareness (who you are, what you are, where you are) and potential partnerships with local business leaders, suppliers, vendors and more.

Also, in advance of opening day, identify what makes your brewery unique and how you can leverage those qualities and maximize exposure. Maybe you live in a warm weather climate and have a killer outdoor patio. Host your event outdoors and set the vibe by hiring a well-known local musician or acoustic guitarist, and serve a lager, pilsner or pale ale to complete the summer night ambiance.

Don’t forget to set a budget, too. It can be easy to get carried away and overspend unnecessarily. Make sure you have a line item for every detail in your event budget and plan for some small overages. If you have some funds leftover, you can save them for future events or use them to purchase additional swag or giveaway items.

Other Party Benefits

Remember that important email database we talked about? This is a great opportunity to build it up and grow your email and Facebook lists. People love feeling special, and an exclusive event invitation is just the way to do it. You could invite the first 25 people who sign up for the list to a free VIP pre-party on the day of your opening event, or you could give them access to special beer or food selections at the party.

Want to stand out even more? You could go so far as creating a speakeasy-style private bar area, like these San Francisco hidden gems, and dole out VIP access to the first set of people to sign up for your email list. It won’t take a lot of extra work on your end, and the time you put into it will pay off in dividends.

Whichever route you decide to take, make sure it includes giveaways or promotional items. Skip the cheap, overdone giveaways (pens, keychains, magnets) and instead, opt for cool, memorable items that showcase who you are, like custom coasters, koozies, bottle openers and more. If you have room in your budget, consider ordering branded t-shirts, hats, tote bags and other apparel and offer it for sale during the event. Like those mentioned above, It can also be used to entice email subscribers and grow your database (“Join our email list and receive a free t-shirt!”).

Finally, make sure you take some time to celebrate your team. Your staff, family and friends are your biggest supporters, and it’s important to celebrate and acknowledge their impact. A simple public thank you to kickoff or close out the event will do the trick. You appreciate them, and they’ll appreciate you for the recognition.

Let’s recap the basics for you once more:

  • Finalize key business touchpoints like your brand identity, website, and social channels.
  • Set clear objectives and begin party planning approximately 3-5 months prior to opening day.
  • Identify your brewery’s unique attributes and leverage them to optimize exposure and engagement.
  • Set a budget and stick to it.
  • Grow your email list with exclusive offers for VIP members.
  • Opt for custom, branded giveaway items in lieu of cheap promotional materials.
  • Celebrate.

The grand opening of your brewery is a day you’ve likely dreamed about and worked towards for many years. Make it a good one. We’ll be right there with you, cheering you on. Cheers!