Perfecting The Art Of The Presale With Pontoon Brewing

Want to know the secret formula to crushing beer release presales on CraftCellr?  We do too!  So we went directly to one of our experts: Sean O'Keefe of Pontoon Brewing.  We'll sit and listen, while Sean spreads the knowledge...

Tell A Story

With every beer we create for our Serious Series, we try to do two things: tell a story and make it fun. Before you can successfully launch a presale, you need to make sure all the components of your release are complete.  The goal is to have all the components work together to tell the consumer a fun and compelling story about why they can't live without this beer.

Create A Timeline

At Pontoon, we shoot to launch our presales 10-14 days prior to the release date. We have created a repeatable process that keeps us on target and gives us enough time to maximize our sales:

  1. Teaser: The week leading up to our presale launch, we will tease our upcoming release on social. Post a picture of the ingredients, a sneak peek of the label art, or create a funny meme. Make sure to let consumers know what day and time pre-sales will go live.

  2. Launch: 10-14 days prior to release day, we launch our presales. Make sure to hit up all your marketing channels: social, email, Reddit, and any beer communities you belong to. Don't forget to post the URL! You will miss out on sales if you don't.

  3. Remind: About 5-7 days into the presale, we use our social channels to remind our consumers about the release. Many social channels, like Facebook, limit your exposure to followers, so don't expect to sell out off one round of posts.

  4. Last Chance/Sold Out: The day prior to the release, we send out one more post to our social channels. If there are a few 4-packs left, we send out last chance messaging. If the release is sold out, we let our consumers know there will be a limited supply for walk-in taproom sales the next day.

Allocate Your Inventory

We typically start with a 50/50 split. 50% on CraftCellr and 50% reserved for taproom sales. Then we adjust up or down based on beer style, previous sales, and demand. At this point, we have a good understanding of when we should place more on CraftCellr to maximize our sales.

Pro Tip: Keep your CraftCellr inventory and taproom inventory separate and clearly marked.  Always keep a small reserve of beer in case something gets damaged or beer mysteriously walks away on you.

Prepare Your Taproom

CraftCellr makes the process of verifying consumer purchases and pick up very simple with its mobile platform. I would recommend you do the following to ensure your staff is trained and the consumer knows what to do:

  1. Train your taproom staff about the CraftCellr mobile flow and print out and laminate instructions for behind the bar on how to verify a consumers purchase.

  2. Make sure your staff marks each offer as claimed on the consumer's phone, so you will have an accurate accounting of who has picked up their beer.

  3. Place signage near the pick up location reminding consumers of the URL and steps necessary for claiming their beer with their phone.

  4. Create additional signage promoting sign ups for CraftCellr. It's a great way to capture consumer information and create a return visit.

If you made it this far, thanks for the read!  Cheers,

Sean O'Keefe - Pontoon Brewing

5 Things You Need To Know About Pre-Sales

It’s been three months since we launched our pre-sales feature with Monday Night’s Tear of My Enemies release and we’ve learned some interesting “truth nuggets” over that time.  Here are the top 5 take-aways we’ve gathered from conversations with our partners and consumers:


The team at Pontoon Brewing have a good thing going with the launch of their Serious Series.  But what really caught my attention, was the way consumers reacted to a simple “sold out” post about presales.  The post sent out a virtual bat signal to the market saying “if you want to have any chance at getting this beer, you better get off your ass and get in line early for walk-up sales.”  Sure enough, Pontoon had a line down the street on release day.


As a marketer by trade, I’ve always been impressed with the creativity and artistry of social media in the brewing world.  Unfortunately, while an amazing shot of your beer will drive brand awareness, it won’t necessarily result in a sale. Until now…  Keep creating amazing content and simply add a link to start driving presale revenues. Let the link do the work.


How far are your consumers willing to travel for your product?  Apparently pretty damn far! On multiple occasions I have talked with someone in person or on reddit who have driven from Athens or Chattanooga to Atlanta to pick up their presale reservation.  Each time I ask them the same question: Would you have driven all that way if you hadn’t pre-bought your beer? The answer: Probably not. This doesn’t just apply to cities outside Atlanta. Hell, driving from Alpharetta to the West End can be a haul depending on the day of the week.


Would Monday Night have sold out of their award winning scotch and bourbon barrel-aged Tears of My Enemies release without CraftCellr?  Without a doubt! But technology is all about the application. Monday Night’s strategy is to leverage their more anticipated releases to drive up their subscriber count, which in turn gives them a broader audience to email and text for all future releases.  Simple but brilliant.


I have to take my kids to soccer practice.  I’ll be out of town that weekend. I was hungover and forgot to go…. Life is hectic.  Your consumers see your amazing social posts all day long and thirst for your products.  But not everyone has the flexibility to be able to attend a release. The solution is simple.  Remove the obstacles for them. Presales allow people to engage immediately with your marketing and pick up on their own terms.  Empower your consumers with choice and they’ll thank you with their wallets.

If you have your own anecdotes, we’d love to hear them!  If you’re a craft brewery, cidery, or distillery and you haven’t signed up for your 14 day free trial yet… what are you waiting for?  We can have you set up and making money in less than 24 hours.  

One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Sell Out…

Selling out a release doesn’t come easy these days.  Every brewery release, high-demand or low, comes with its own set of issues.

How do I generate more awareness?  How do I manage long lines and wait times?  How do I make my release more unique and exciting?

The answer is simpler than you think…. Technology.

Monday Night Brewing adopted CraftCellr’s platform to capitalize on one of its most anticipated releases of the year, Tears of my Enemies.  Hot off the heels of winning a bronze medal at the 2017 Great American Beer Festival, Monday Night released two variants (Barrel-Aged and Scotch-Aged) of Tears of my Enemies through CraftCellr’s custom branded web-app.

The result?  One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Sell Out.


Convert “likes” into sales.  Monday Night has used CraftCellr as a launching pad for a number of its releases.  The main channels for driving sales?  Text messages and social media.  Driving presales is as easy as sending out a custom text message to subscribers or posting a link to social.



Long lines are a good thing!  It means you are making great beer.  But long waiting times are another story.  By allowing its most avid fans to pre-purchase and skip the line or pick up later in the week, Monday Night dramatically reduced wait times and operational burden on its staff.


Has anyone else noticed there’s a lot of new breweries out there?  The days of “if you build it, they will come” are over.  It’s time to be creative.  It’s time to get scrappy.  Monday Night put itself out on the bleeding edge of technology, because they wanted to create a better consumer experience.  Mission accomplished.