Alex Thornton Interview Flower Power Beer

Photo from Ithaca Beer Co. Wholesaler Resources Page.

It’s a beer with the name that is sure to take you back in time. It’s a beer that Food And Wine Magazine named as “One of the most important craft beers ever brewed”.

The beer we are speaking of is “Flower Power Beer”.

Produced by the Ithaca Beer Company, we spoke with company representative Mr. Alex Thornton about “Flower Power Beer”.

Q – Alex, you’re the Marketing and Event’s Manager for Ithaca Beer Co. What does that job entail? Do you plan outdoor gatherings with musical entertainment so people can sample Ithaca Beer?
A – Yeah it entails just about everything. I handle all of our social content, all of our package design, the name that sells when we come out with our beers as well as all of our events, our social gatherings, our brunch, anything you can really think about on that aspect. It falls into my lap. It’s a lot but-it’s pretty awesome.

Q – Ithaca Beer was founded in 1998 by Dan Mitchell. It’s a family-run operation. Did Dan have a background in the brewery business?
A – They really didn’t. It was something they always wanted to do especially develop it into what it is today. For the longest time it was just a local small brewery where they sold some small package as well as growlers and then also like home brewing supplies. So, it was always kind of something they wanted to develop to what it is now where it’s a tap room with a full restaurant as well as our new college app location. So, it started out with kind of no real background in it and grew it into what it is today which is a relatively large production.

Q – What’ a crowler?
A – So, a crowler is what you tend to get from a lot of local breweries. It’s a larger size can that will hold for a little bit longer than a normal can does. It tends to be sold at breweries as takeaways. They’re not doing a full on canning where they’re doing four packs or six packs. So, an in-house growler they can fill from their taps.

Q – Speaking of backgrounds did you have a background in brewing?
A – I did. I’ve had a relatively extensive background in craft beverage in general. I spent time at Prison City Brewing in Auburn. I did a contract with them in the marketing department as well as Treleaven Wines in Aurora, New York. So, I’ve got a little bit of a background prior to coming to Ithaca.

Q – Who came up with the idea of making a beer and calling it “Flower Power”? Was that Dan Mitchell?
A – It was Dan and the brewing team. At the time a lot of aromas and aura around the beer, the ingredients used were very flower or flower forward. It kind of fit perfect. It was like an immediate, real easy name that obviously worked.

Q – That name “Flower Power” conjures up memories of the 1960s.
A – It was right about the time a lot of craft brewing started to use some of the colorful packaging. So, it kind of all came together with a little bit of all of it.

Q – So, you’re getting younger and older people drinking the beer.
A – Yeah, absolutely. That’s what makes the marketing side of this so interesting. In a lot of the craft beverage industry you can really narrow into a 20 year age gap demographic. Here we have a relatively large like 40 to 50 year age span demographic that some of our beers are definitely founded on that older side and some of them are a little newer, a little younger. “Flower Power” is one of those that kind of transcends the ages for sure.

Q – I first saw “Flower Power” in Price Chopper Supermarket. You’re concentrating then on getting “Flower Power” in central New York grocery stores?
A – Yeah. “Flower Power” is actually the large wholesale brand for us. It’s obviously our flagship brand. You can find it in most grocery stores Price Chopper, Tops, Wegmans. Whatever is super local to you. You can kind of find it in those grocers in nine different states. So, we kind of have a large expansive reach when it comes to “Flower Power”. But yeah, it’s definitely our biggest wholesale brand.

Q – Can you find it in a bar and restaurant as well?
A- Yes. A lot of our wholesale accounts that are restaurants and bars definitely buy “Flower Power” just because it’s one of the most well-known beers especially from us. In most restaurants and bars that hold a beer in any way, “Flower Power” is on top.

Q – What did your sales of Flower Power do when Food And Wine Magazine named it as one of the most important craft beers ever brewed?
A – It was kind of one of those things we didn’t immediately jump on, but, as soon as we did, that article probably did contribute to expanding our reach. We ended up in nine different states, all the way down to South Carolina, West towards the Mississippi. And that article is probably one of the contributing factors to our expanded reach when it comes to “Flower Power” it definitely bumped our visitation sales, people buying on premise. We got a lot of people from downstate, Maine and Massachusetts. All those specifically coming to try “Flower Power” and then finding a lot of our other beers are great. But yeah, that article was pretty awesome and definitely contributed to a bump in sales both here and throughout the country.

Q – Is the craft beer business a growing business? It seems like such a competitive business. How far can you take “Flower Power”?
A – Yeah, it’s still continuously growing. It comes with a diversity of the industry. There’s waves and trends right now, like hazy beers and sours are becoming really popular. With how many different types of beer there are, it kind of keeps the industry growing and competitive. We’re looking to take “Flower Power” pretty national. We’re at, like I said in nine states right now we’re looking to get into other states. We’re continuously looking to make it a national brand.

Q – Do you have any famous people drinking “Flower Power” that you know of?
A – Probably some of the more notable ones are local athletes. We’re in the Ithaca (New York) area and we have Kyle Dake who was a Cornell wrestler, a four-time national champion. He’s been in once or twice definitely. “Flower Power” is definitely something that is on his radar. In terms of beer, he’s a local guy. We’ve done a lot of marketing in terms of local stuff. Whenever people are in, we don’t try to make it too big of a deal.

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