On Tuesday, March 21, 2006, at 9:50 p.m. Pacific time, Jack Dorsey, a New York University dropout-turned-tech-entrepreneur, sent this message via a new social media app he helped develop: “just setting up my twttr.”
It was the earliest message of what became Twitter. (Dorsey’s firm did not acquire the now-famous domain name for several months, so twttr it was before then.) The app would become available to the wider public that July, and within a couple of years individuals and businesses were tweeting with abandon, breweries and brewers included.
@NewBelgiumBeer tweeted “setting up twitter” on Dec. 11, 2008, making the Colorado operation one of the first smaller-batch breweries in the U.S. to launch a feed. That feed lasted exactly two tweets—less than 40 minutes after @NewBelgiumBeer launched, @NewBelgium followed. It remains the brewery’s official Twitter handle.
setting up twitter
— New Belgium Brewing (@newbelgiumbeer) December 11, 2008
Brooklyn Brewery’s first tweet on April 27, 2009, was even more spartanly utilitarian: just “http://brooklynbrewery.com/home.”
No inaugural tweet beats Lagunitas in its sparseness, though: “Word,” tweeted from @lagunitasbeer on the final day of January 2014.
— LAGUNITAS (@lagunitasbeer) February 1, 2014
Such were the stops and starts of mastering the app, as breweries tried to figure out not only hashtags, retweets and the like, but whether near-real-time updates over the Internet were actually worth the effort. “Tap, tap, tap …. hey, is this thing on?,” began the inaugural tweet from Boston Beer Co.’s @SamuelAdamsBeer on Jan. 19, 2012. “Better late than never! Follow us here for news and great brews. Cheers!”
Tap, tap, tap….hey, is this thing on? Better late than never! Follow us here for news and great brews. Cheers!
— Samuel Adams Beer (@SamuelAdamsBeer) January 19, 2012
Others dove right in. “Getting ready for ChicoFest this weekend here at the brewery. Beer, music, and solar panels! What could be better?,” went Chico, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.’s first tweet from @SierraNevada on April 23, 2009.
Getting ready for ChicoFest this weekend here at the brewery. Beer, music, and solar panels! What could be better?
— Sierra Nevada Beer (@SierraNevada) April 23, 2009
Stone Brewing started on New Year’s Eve 2008 with, “is checking out the Rise Above Plastics Blog about our Arrogant Bastard Chico Bag: http: tinyurl.com/979nb5,” below the new @StoneBrewingCo handle.
is checking out the Rise Above Plastics Blog about our Arrogant Bastard Chico Bag: http://tinyurl.com/979nb5
— Stone Brewing (@StoneBrewingCo) December 31, 2008
Anheuser-Busch InBev’s @Budweiser launched on Jan. 27, 2013 with that most revolutionary of Twitter accoutrements: a photo. In this case, a baby Clydesdale above the expertly constructed tweet, “This year’s #SuperBowl star? Our new #Clydesdales foal—and we need help to name it. Tweet us ideas via #Clydesdales.”
— Budweiser (@Budweiser) January 27, 2013
Two years later, Budweiser and the Super Bowl would provide a prime showcase for one of the two biggest uses of Twitter for breweries and beer lovers: feuding, or at least opining stridently. The beer brand (in)famously ran a commercial during the big game mocking the supposed pretensions of its smaller-batch competitors (“Let them sip their pumpkin peach ale…” etc.).
The Twittersphere erupted in response, even spawning an ongoing parody feed called @PumpkinPeachAle meant to mock Bud and promote its targets. The parody feed accentuated that other big feature of Twitter for breweries and their fans: building and sustaining a community.
— Pumpkin Peach Ale (@pumpkinpeachale) February 6, 2015
Twitter is essentially low-cost marketing, and smaller breweries in particular have used it over the last decade to build brand loyalty; to get consumers to feel like they’re in on the big decisions and the big events, a feeling that individual brewers’ feeds help along enormously.
To check out the first toddling tweets from those feeds, and from other breweries, click through to this Twitter time machine. And, oh, as for @AllAboutBeer’s initial 140-character adventure on Sept. 20, 2008, it was more on the utilitarian side: “Setting up our Twitter account!”
Setting up our Twitter account!
— All About Beer Mag (@allaboutbeer) September 20, 2008
Tom Acitelli is the author of The Audacity of Hops: The History of America’s Craft Beer Revolution. His most recent book is a history of American fine wine called American Wine: A Coming-of-Age Story. Reach him on Twitter @tomacitelli.