How a brewery launched a rock band tour

Many of today’s arena-headlining pop stars could have a future brewing careers. Rafael Corona and Adam Dicker run their eponymous Corona Bus brewery in Madisonville, Louisiana, with about 15 employees and five bushels of a …

Many of today’s arena-headlining pop stars could have a future brewing careers.

Rafael Corona and Adam Dicker run their eponymous Corona Bus brewery in Madisonville, Louisiana, with about 15 employees and five bushels of a concentrated, light, high-alcohol wheat beer. Call it a standard of sorts: Corona Bus’ lager is brewed to be light and refreshing, and can be sipped at an eye-opening price compared to the big-name steins that usually carry an extra buck a glass.

“We really like the fact that people can come to our brewery and not pay exorbitant prices for beer,” Dicker says.

Allowing people to come in for a drink, say a frosty Goose Island pale ale or Half Acre pale ale, or a 50-cent Yuengling weizenbock, can help a small business stay afloat. Once they reach a critical mass, the boost goes beyond business — with the notion that it can help build a wider audience for musicians and artists, too.

Like any upstart, Corona Bus gave rap stars and rock bands a tour of the brewery. They could purchase 12-ounce and 16-ounce tastings, for between $2 and $3, as well as a T-shirt. Fans could also shell out $50 for the rare “Opa Opa” — or “our boy” — 2-liter bottle.

But when Hurricane Harvey hit, the most-used free samples were either fled to the basement or in the tubes of beer kegs, according to Dicker.

“That’s when you get flooded with little bottles of free beer,” he says. “We tried to focus our marketing efforts in the eastern part of the state, a couple cities from there.”

They also started giving away free cider and straight whiskeys. “We had enough free cider that the name of the brewery changed, from Corona Bus to Morgan County Brewery,” Corona says.

A summer storm in 2018 diverted lager to the funnel of Dixie Chicks tour buses in Nashville, Tenn. But this fall, the band stopped in Memphis. They were inspired to brew a recipe based on the Dixie Chicks.

“If any place else could make the beer, it would be Memphis,” adds Corona. “It was kind of like a fitting. It was kind of like someone pinch hitting for me.”

The special “Rock On, Dixie” beer is just the beginning. In Washington, D.C., Kehler Liddell Brewing Co. and Bluejacket Brewing are debuting a pop-up warehouse tour modeled after the successful brewery tour offered at Corona Bus, which also is operating this week in New Orleans.

Fans will tour the brewery and taste the launch beer along with a number of other Kehler Liddell and Bluejacket brews. Attendees also will be able to buy a souvenir tote bag or coffee mug, or partake in a pre-packaged Elvis Presley raspberry Crush. All proceeds will benefit MP3CMusicians (musicchamps.org), an organization that aims to help musicians raise money during hard times.

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