Rolling Stone and Elysian Brewing launch a co-branded craft beer

Coachella festival was supposed to mark the big debut, but for now, Elysian marketers are hoping to be part of beer drinkers' online happy hours.

Rolling Stone and Elysian Brewing Co. have joined forces to create the music magazine’s first co-branded craft beer. 

Elysian Rolling Stone Lager, featuring hints of honey and orange, was supposed to enjoy a kick-off at the postponed Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, picking up on its positioning as a beer inspired by "live shows and long nights." 

It still might, as Coachella has been rescheduled for October. But for now, Seattle-based Elysian, which is owned by AB InBev, is relying on a few other tactics, including packaging with messaging on the box and cans that is reminiscent of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner’s statement of purpose in the original issue of the magazine, in-store marketing and some digital ads and social posts that encourage social get-togethers online.

"We are finding even in a time when social distancing is very much alive, you are seeing people holding virtual happy hours over the phone, text and however they stream," said Nick Mallory, director of marketing at Elysian Brewing, who said even his mother is enjoying craft-beer video chats during these days of sheltering at home.  

"There is still a communal aspect to beer, especially craft beer," Mallory continued. "It is one of those things, in the briefest of moments, that can kind of whisk people away."

The brand is rolling out to grocery stores now and its bold black outer packaging and cans, along with the iconic, red Rolling Stone logo help it stand apart. 

Like all of the company’s packaging, Elysian Rolling Stone’s logo, label and packaging was created in-house by designer David Lohman. 

He dropped a few subtle elements in the design, such as five gold stars between the Elysian and Rolling Stone in the lock-up to hint at a five-star review, be it for an album or a craft beer. 

A message from Elysian’s brewmaster, Josh Waldman, appears on the backs of cans and outer packaging that describe his intentions for the light lager. The thinking was "what would it be like taking a beer to the magazine aisle, what if part of the story was written?" said Mallory.

A small ad campaign is focused on in-store, digital and social placements, with a "Check out our new headliner" slogan.

Elysian Rolling Stone Lager came about when Elysian co-founder Joe Bisacca, reached out to Gus Wenner, president of Wenner Media and the son of Jann. 

Bisacca loves music. The brand’s 1996 launch was baked into Seattle’s grunge/rock music scene. Meanwhile, Wenner is a big craft beer fan. "It was one of those peanut butter-chocolate moments," said Mallory, echoing the classic Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups campaign. 

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