Farmers Brewing Company

Farmers Brewing Company, Making Big Impressions on California Region

Sandra Yerges

Advertising is everywhere. We see advertisements, we hear them, and the best ones make us feel something. Their widespread nature is essential for local producers, especially those who are young in their business journey. Farmers Brewing Company of Princeton, California, has only been commercially crafting beers for the past four years, but the effects of their grant-funded advertising efforts during that time have been essential in bringing brand awareness to the western United States.

Bill Weller is the founder of Farmers Brewing Co. and has an unmistakable drive for the agricultural industry. Developed from his multi-generational family lineage of farmers and furthered in his collegiate studies in agriculture engineering technology, producing was the path that he was meant to pursue.

After feeling the pull to slow down after scaling his evolving farming operation with his brother, Bill took a step in a different direction. Instead of the growing and harvesting he was accustomed to, he turned to the passion he had brewing up all along: starting his own line of beers. Using familiar grains and nuts, such as rice, wheat, and almonds, to craft his product, he took his harvesting knowledge and applied it to this newfound pastime. From this discovery onward, it was a race to transform his garage-brewed beers into a business that supplied the California region he calls home.

Every year since Farmers Brewing Co.’s production began in 2020, Bill has relied on the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) to support the growth and development of the company. Brewing comes with a wide range of expenses from the growing stage all the way to the final production stage. Although the VAPG is tailored to help with specific product creation and promotional processes, Bill expressed that the extra cash flow provided by the VAPG helped alleviate the weight of other unrelated costs throughout the business.

The three grants he has received thus far have greatly impacted the brewery, even in times when the world’s happenings did not line up with the company’s early business projections. At the onset of the company, Bill focused strictly on supplying kegs to the restaurant industry. This quickly became challenging, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic transformed booming gathering places into desolation. Without locations open for customers to enjoy a locally produced beverage, he needed to promptly switch his focus to a part of his business that was just getting started: canned beers.

When Bill received his initial VAPG in the fall of 2020, he veered toward this new, 12-fluid-ounce-sized opportunity. He found it was impossible to purchase cans in small quantities, which only increased the amount of money he had to put toward securing an inventory of cans. The financial pressure of this large investment of up to $30,000 was offset by the VAPG, leaving Bill in a great position to begin canning with a mobile company.

Over time, Farmers Brewing Co. solidified the production of five beer varieties, called the “Farmers Five.” Printed with images reflecting nature and the true grit of brewing, this selection of cans fits seamlessly with the company’s small-town, locally produced brand. These visual choices extended far beyond the eyes of loyal customers thanks to the advertising boost of successive VAPG programs.

With a business model that prioritizes its on-site tap room, off-site restaurant, and can distribution, Farmers Brewing Co.’s marketing choices have played a significant role in public awareness of its brand and its offerings. Not only have these been lofty decisions in quantity, but also in the scale of how individuals have been exposed to them.

Because most of the advertising outlets Bill chose were situated around roadways, many travelers had the opportunity to learn about this local business while driving. Whether it was seeing a large truck passing by displaying the Farmers Brewing Co. logo or appreciating the witty slogan, “Put your lips on a farmer,” on the company’s billboards, commuters could take a detour from their journey to learn more about what the brewery had to offer.

To keep the buzz going outside of visual advertising, Bill has also secured a radio advertisement spot for an eager group of listeners this past year. At the height of the professional basketball season, many tuned into the radio for game updates. This provided the ideal opportunity for the brewery to briefly capture the attention of these individuals with a commercial. Creating the message for Golden State Warriors fans was huge in helping the company become top-of-mind at a time when celebratory cans of beer were being cracked open.

Even though these past marketing efforts have stayed within the state’s bounds, Bill is currently working on his fourth VAPG application with his trusted grant writing consultant to gain new customers in other western states. The pair are crafting plans to mirror the success of their previous three grants.

Branching out to this new area is a big step for Farmers Brewing Co., and it reflects the brand’s ongoing emphasis on inviting everyone to join in the local experience. The company has been known to bring smiles to individuals from all walks of life with a mullet contest and on-site campout opportunity. Furthermore, the matched support from the community was evident during a well-attended fundraiser at the brewery to honor the life of a police officer from the area who had died on duty.

These gatherings help facilitate the shared value of togetherness between the company and its customers. Potentially adding new consumers from the surrounding area through the 2024 VAPG will bring an even greater sense of connection to this local brewery, its organized events, and the rural region in which it is located.