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Local Legends, Local Flavor: Leveraging Folklore in Craft Beer Marketing

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The Geography of Beer
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Abstract

The rapid expansion of craft breweries has been fueled partly by neolocalism: demand for products made by real people, with local materials, from real places. Brewers signal these qualities on product packaging and brand websites. This chapter contends that invoking local legends—a form of folklore—comprises one potentially powerful signifier of neolocalism. Previous research identifies the neolocal potential of legends but does little beyond noting their presence on products as local tales. It has barely engaged with legend scholarship to investigate how this peculiar and distinctive form of discourse functions. More than mere stories, legends are living discourse that, when properly deployed, capture people’s attention, engage with remarkable claims, and influence behaviors. Through a qualitative content analysis of legend-branded beers, this chapter analyzes the ways breweries deploy this discourse, as well as the advantages, challenges, and shortcomings of using it to produce a sense of place for product promotion.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The term ‘synecdoche’ refers to the linguistic practice of referring to the whole of some concept by referencing only part of it (Burke, 1945). For example, the entirety of the United States Government might be referred to simply as ‘Washington.’ The term seems appropriate for describing this comparable mode of legend-telling: referencing a specific part of it verbally, behaviorally, visually, and so forth instead of relating an entire tale.

  2. 2.

    The location of this cemetery is withheld to protect it.

  3. 3.

    The choice of an urban setting is itself unusual since craft breweries typically prefer rural imagery (Debies-Carl, 2019) and haunted houses are often portrayed within more naturalistic, albeit run-down, settings as well (Grider, 2007).

  4. 4.

    Cthulhu is the tentacle, literary creation of American horror author, Lovecraft (1999), in a short story originally published in 1928.

  5. 5.

    Most famously, the 1999 film Blair Witch Project used similar techniques (Dobele et al., 2005).

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Correspondence to Jeffrey S. Debies-Carl .

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Debies-Carl, J.S. (2023). Local Legends, Local Flavor: Leveraging Folklore in Craft Beer Marketing. In: Patterson, M.W., Hoalst-Pullen, N. (eds) The Geography of Beer. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-39008-1_13

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