5 Stupid Questions With Firestone Walker Marketing Wiz Hannah Barnett

, 5 Stupid Questions With Firestone Walker Marketing Wiz Hannah Barnett

(Hannah Barnett: Courtesy Firestone Walker)

A successful beer project is seldom by accident, as Hannah Barnett, an award-winning marketing professional who has spent almost a decade in the brewing industry, knows.  She’s now the Brand Director at Firestone Walker Brewing, where she is overseeing the Mind Haze IPA family.

Maybe it was because Hannah was distracted promoting one of craft beer’s most exciting Hazy IPA lines, that she agreed to subject herself to American Craft Beer’s “5 Stupid Questions.”

And since she was so accommodating, we snuck in two bonus questions, because that’s how we roll…

ACB: Hannah, thanks so much for making time for us. Can you share with us a little about your background and how you ended up at Firestone Walker? Was the brewing biz always in the cards for you?

Happy to be here Tom. I got my first job in beer at Boise Brewing when they opened in 2014 – awesome spot in the heart of downtown Boise, ID. Then I moved to Bend to work for 10 Barrel, eventually down to LA to work for their sister brewery (at the time) Golden Road, and now Firestone Walker.

Firestone Walker has always been one of the breweries I’ve looked up to most so it’s an honor to get to carry the torch for them now.  You could say it was always in the cards – I even had “Makin’ Beer My Career” printed on my graduation cap. I didn’t realize at the time I was in it for the long-haul, but I certainly do now.

ACB: The Mind Haze family of IPA’s is one of Firestone Walker’s most successful beer lines and   you’ve two new variations. What can you tell us about them? And on the marketing side of things what goes into presenting them to both the industry and the public?

, 5 Stupid Questions With Firestone Walker Marketing Wiz Hannah BarnettMind Haze Cosmic Crusher Juicy Imperial IPA and Mind Haze Brain Melter Hazy Imperial IPA are the two newest beers to launch under the Mind Haze umbrella. At 9.5% and 8.5% respectively, both beers pack a serious punch from both a flavor and ABV perspective. It’s no secret that high ABV IPAs are all the rage right now and these beers represent our world-class brew team’s exploration of the style – I think they knocked it out of the park.

On the marketing side, we spent over a year developing the new world you see today for Mind Haze. So much passion and energy goes into bringing a product to market, from our brilliant brew team developing the juice to the incredible sales and distributor partners executing the vision out in trade. We couldn’t do anything without the whole team’s buy in, and luckily we have a team whose drive for excellence is unmatched. That makes our job as marketers way more fun, because it allows us to stretch ourselves creatively.

ACB: In today’s uber-competitive beer world, a beer’s artwork is super important if you want to stand out at retail. The Mind Haze brand’s imaging has been updated for 2024. What can you tell us about that?

Before I started at Firestone Walker, the team already did a lot of exploration to develop the next “phase” of Mind Haze. Led by our super-talented Head of Creative, Jeremy Taylor, the evolution of Mind Haze took what we loved about the past design and modernized it for today’s competitive marketplace. The result is a package that doesn’t just jump out but attacks you from the shelf.

The rest of the world we built around the brand is designed to support with bright colors and trippy visuals. It’s a fun, modern take on what a premium IPA brand can be. We were looking for something more elevated than a cartoon yet visually energetic. JT and the creative teams we worked with did an incredible job.

ACB: You’ve been marketing beer for almost ten years and a successful beer project is seldom by accident. Beer business burnout can happen. Do you still enjoy what you’re doing?

Of course I do! I feel extremely lucky to get to work alongside brilliant creative minds to build brands we truly believe in. Working at Firestone Walker has reinvigorated my love for this industry, it’s not often you get to end up at one of the places that inspired you to join in the first place.

I love beer, it’s introduced me to all my favorite people on the planet – I’m beyond thankful for that.

ACB. Are there more Mind Haze variations planned for 2024? How about next year?

I can’t reveal all the secrets just yet, but when I can you’ll be the first to know. 🙂

Bonus Questions

ACB: Do you have any favorite Mind Haze variations…past or present?

I’m still a sucker for the original Mind Haze Hazy Tropical IPA, it’s just such a beautifully built beer. I’ll order it anytime I see it out, it’s become my go-to.

ACB: In addition to Firestone Walker, there are so many great breweries doing exciting things out on the West Coast…Can you share some of your favorites without getting into trouble?

Sheesh, that is a nearly impossible question to answer without ending up with some angry texts! 🙂

I really dig what Whitney Burnside is doing over at Grand Fir Brewing, especially with Texas-inspired lagers. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for the Black Cliffs American Stout from Boise Brewing – Lance Chavez is a legend.

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