Steam Brew: Craft beer in an X-Mas party keg

In 2018, the traditional brewery Eichbaum launched its own craft beer brand Steam Brew, which is sold exclusively via Lidl throughout Europe. Not least thanks to its creative brand identity, Steam Brew has since made a "rocket-like ascent," according to Marketing Manager Dennis Sandhöfer. For the first time, one of Steam Brew's six craft beer varieties, which are available exclusively in cans, has now also been filled into Envases' five-liter party keg - as a specially designed Christmas edition for the Irish market.

Brand beer in discount stores is becoming a trend: Aldi, Lidl & Co. have steadily expanded their range of brand beers in recent years. In view of falling beer consumption in the core markets of Western Europe, it is ultimately also becoming increasingly important for established beer brands to open up new sales channels in these markets. In addition, discounters have long since shed their “discount image” and are increasingly focusing on appealing product presentation and a balanced product range. The crises of the last few years have also brought the food retail sector substantial sales growth.


Craft beer brand Steam Brew available at Lidl throughout Europe

The private brewery Eichbaum from Mannheim has recognized the trend and launched its own craft beer brand, which is available exclusively at Lidl: Steam Brew includes various craft beer varieties that are exclusively on the shelves at Lidl in all European stores. And the mini-keg from Envases also plays a role here: Lidl Ireland has now commissioned a special Craft Beer Christmas edition in a five-liter party keg from Steam Brew, with the aim of inspiring new target groups.

The Steam Brew party kegs have been available at Lidl stores in Ireland since mid-November. The kegs contain the craft beer variety “The Sister’s,” a lighter session IPA with exotic fruit notes and an alcohol content of just under five percent. Dennis Sandhöfer, Team Leader Product & Marketing Management at Eichbaum, is eager to see how the special container is received by Irish customers. In his view, the requirements for the success of a craft beer mini-keg are certainly met: “Ireland is generally a very beer-loving country. Craft beer is also very popular there and has been increasingly in demand in recent years.


Craft beer and minikeg fit together perfectly

The different craft beer varieties each embody a distinct character and their special characteristics – such as “The Sister” (variety: Session IPA)…

…or “The Master” (variety: Imperial Stout).

Celebrating Christmas with the (extended) family is also a tradition in Ireland. “One or two Irish beer fans may want to surprise their loved ones on this occasion with a special beer specialty – whether as a gift or as the host at the celebration at home,” speculates the marketing expert. Especially since craft beer and the minikeg are a perfect match for Dennis Sandhöfer: “People always associate craft beer with a special freshness. Tapping fresh from the keg at home is a perfect match for that.”

The Steam Brew mini-ikeg is the perfect choice – especially since the brand beer can be easily added to the shopping cart when buying groceries at the discount store. Its special design also makes it a perfect fit for the upcoming Christmas season: the typical Steam Brew brand design of “The Sister’s” beer variety has been given a wintry look with a red pointed hat, snow-covered lace, and mistletoe. The party keg gets a particularly high-quality look from the color scheme and its special matte finish, which Envases implemented according to the customer’s wishes. “And it simply has an unbeatably huge design surface,” enthuses the Eichbaum marketing expert about the creative possibilities offered by the five-liter keg.

Harry Eichholz, who as Account Manager Beverage at Envases is responsible for the Eichbaum brewery, is also convinced by the brewery’s original idea of an X-Mas party keg: ” The Eichbaum brewery and its Steam Brew brand are once again proving the potential of the mini keg. In summer during the barbecue season, the party keg has long been established. With the right design, however, it can also be used for special occasions or as a gift idea all year round and for all types of beer. There are no limits to creativity here – and Envases makes everything possible in terms of implementation!”


Steam Brew creates its own brand world

Illustrationen Stembrew Marke

In the fictitious steam-brew-world the “brave six” fight against the prohibition with their secretly brewed underground beer.

The Minikeg Christmas Edition for Ireland thus fits seamlessly into the existing Steam Brew brand image. This is special in many respects. A fictional world has been created around the six craft beer varieties currently available in Germany, each of which embodies its own character and their special characteristics (e.g. “Der Jüngling,”(“ The Spark) “Die Fremde,” (The Stranger) “Der Meister,” (The Master) etc.) under the headline “Steam Brew – The Craft Beer Resistance. This is set in times of a post-apocalyptic revolution, during which the “Brave Six” fight against the imposed prohibition with their beers brewed in the secret underground. The setting is inspired by the steampunk movement, which celebrates the aesthetics of pistons, bolts, gears, and Victorian clothing style combined with a certain romance of adventure. The fictional, fantastical narrative behind Steam Brew is not only reflected in the package design, but is also expressed in a creative brand video that can be viewed here.


Design awards for concept and packaging design

Designpreis für Steambrew von Eichbaum

Head of Marketing Dennis Sandhöfer (second from right) and his team are excited about the German Design Award that Steam Brew 2020 received for its creative brand concept..

This original and unusual concept and prime example of storytelling in the food sector also convinced the German Design Council (DRF). It presented Steam Brew 2020 with the German Design Award, one of the most recognized design competitions in the world. The creative idea of a separate theme world and the extraordinary packaging design brought the victory in the category “excellent communications design – packaging”. The Steam Brew creations outperformed well over 5,000 packaging designs submitted from all over the world in their category and were among the 56 winners of the “Special Mention” award in 2020. The same year also featured the German Brand Award, one of the most important German brand awards, which is presented annually by the German Brand Institute. Here, too, Steam Brew completely convinced the jury in the categories “Excellence in Brand Strategy and Creation” and “Brand Design”.

In order to attract consumers’ attention and curiosity for the branded beer in the discounter with full shelves, Eichbaum relied on eye-catching designs with the distinctive steampunk characters for the packaging design of its Steam Brew products. Another unique selling point: Steam Brew’s craft beers are not available in bottles, but exclusively in 0.5-liter beverage cans. This also has logistical advantages. The Steam Brew brand serves the international craft beer market. The varieties Imperial Stout, German Red, Imperial IPA, Session IPA, Wheat Pale Ale, Porter, and IPA Radler are available in over 20 countries in Europe, Asia, and South America, with the range tailored to the respective countries. In Germany, all varieties except IPA Radler are available at Lidl. “For export, the cans simply make more sense and are easier to handle than disposable bottles,” explains Dennis Sandhöfer.


Success concept craft beer: “skyrocketing rise” with brand beer in discount stores

Die ganze Range der Marke Steambrew

Selling its craft beer exclusively at Lidl – for Privatbrauerei Eichbaum, one of the largest breweries in Baden-Württemberg with 340 years of brewing tradition and an annual output of 1.8 million hectoliters, this decision has been a complete success. Dennis Sandhöfer is very pleased with the “rocket-like rise” of the new Steam Brew brand since its market launch four years ago. Corona has certainly contributed to this, the marketing expert admits. “The ‘craft beer at home’ trend has been boosted by Corona. The pandemic was therefore like a multiplier for us. After all, through targeted community management, we were able to make Steam Brew better known during this time!” Facebook, Instagram, YouTube – Steam Brew is successfully represented on various social media channels and thus appeals specifically to a younger target group.

Via social media, Eichbaum also tested how fans in this country like craft beer that they can tap themselves from party kegs: On the Steam Brew Instagram account, a few kegs of the Irish Steam Brew Christmas Edition were recently raffled off. With a promising result according to Dennis Sandhöfer: “The response from followers was overwhelming.”