Have you noticed a blacked-out van roving through their residential neighborhoods? Not your mother’s ice cream truck, this one is delivering the good stuff – BEER! The van belongs to Chicago’s Goose Island Beer Company.
As Illinois bars and taprooms, along with dine-in restaurants, have remained closed since March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic (and will continue to remain closed until April 30), breweries of all sizes have scrambled for new ideas and strategies to get their beer to customers. While liquor stores have been able to remain open because the state considers them essential businesses, the lack of bars means that customers no longer have a showroom where they can try and fall in love with new beers.
Enter Goose Island. As companies continue to alter their business practices to adjust to the coronavirus pandemic, Goose Island has seemingly taken a unique approach. According to reports, it’s taken a cue from the ice cream truck industry. The AB InBev-owned company’s latest marketing tactic has involved shipping out a beer-delivery van to refresh Chicago’s parched citizens with tasty brews. The tricked out-van is coated in black, spinning canary yellow rims. Its windows are emblazoned with big white enticing letters that read: “WANT BEER RIGHT NOW?” Below the question is a number; this number: 312-569-9871.
Breweries have had to rely on different marketing tactics. One of the more notable comes from Goose Island Brewing Co., which has dispatched a black van to roam the streets of Chicago Thursday through Sunday, playing ice cream truck music. If customers call the phone number displayed on the van, the van will deliver beer to them. The van’s appearances have sparked a Reddit thread, one of whose users posted, “Saw this yesterday and it brought me joy.” A marketing spokeswoman said “I would just say that craft beer and craft beer consumers are, by nature, hopeful, and fun. Even if our lives never look like the way they looked before, we definitely will find ways to enjoy beers together.”
Upon closer inspections, witnesses will also be able to read the warning label on its side panel: “ATTENTION: Please stay 6 feet away from van. Real news: COVID-19 is not a hoax.”
How it works :
When you can hear the van — and they insist that you hear the van — then you call the number.
Next, they will text you a link, you pick and purchase the beers, and, boom!, the van will deliver boozy goodness to your home. According to customers who posted about their experiences on Reddit, the van will not sell beer directly to people on the street. Instead, orders have to be placed through the brewery or the brewery’s app, at which point the van will complete the order.
Here’s what’s on tap today in the beer/ice cream truck-van: 312 Wheat Ale, IPA, SPF Fruit Ale, SO-LO 98-Calorie IPA, Natural Villain Garage Lager, Summertime Kölsch, Sox Golden Ale, and a mix-and-match Flight Pack.
Thirsty? Keep your ear out for the slightly deceptive ice cream tunes!
What started as a quirky way to boost sales has evolved into a way to adapt to the existing market. Hurst estimates that Metropolitan’s sales have fallen by about 90 percent since the outbreak, a figure she says is in line with the drops in sales at other breweries. “When your business is based on people gathering, something like this is really hard to digest,” she says. “In order for our sales to get back to the business we originally had, we have to have people in the space again.”