A shared love of beer, travel, art, and the great outdoors united three partners – Tim Brady, Amy Brady, and David Hiler - to open Whetstone Station Brewery in Brattleboro in 2012.
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The spirit of exploration and discovery through rail travel underpinned the concept behind the establishment housed in a former train station building. A decade later, they've rebranded to Whetstone Beer Co. and reimagined packaging to celebrate their love of adventure and respect for the environment with fully recyclable cans and labels with a surprise inside: a keepsake peel-off sticker on every can.
The custom labels, imagined by Whetstone Beer Co. co-owner Tim Brady, were developed over a year-long process with a USA label manufacturer. They are the first to incorporate a built-in, removable sticker within a fully recyclable beer can label.
"We spend a lot on printing custom can labels, which nearly always just end up in a recycle bin," said Brady. "I thought, there has to be a way to make the label useful beyond simply showcasing the beer on the shelf. Now when you purchase any of our Whetstone Beer Co. cans, you get a unique sticker for free."
Whetstone Beer Co. packaging got a slick new look for the company's 10th anniversary, thanks to a local Vermont artist. On shelves at retail locations, bars, and restaurants around New England, the new merchandising and packaging showcase a take on "travel by rail" posters popular during the early 1900's golden age of train travel. A miniature "travel poster" sticker adorns each can while the wrap portion includes hidden elements with scenes harkening back to owners' adventures.
The peel-off sticker concept embraces brew culture where beer and brewery stickers are collected, traded, and used as artwork on "sticker walls" at stores, restaurants, breweries, ski chalets, and construction shops, among others. For individuals, beer stickers cover coolers, water bottles, laptops, man caves, and she-sheds to represent favorites and themes.
"People reach out all the time requesting stickers," said Whetstone brewer Derek Hall. "We send ours, and they send some of their favorites in return." Collecting brewery stickers is so popular, that a Facebook group called "Brewery Stickers and Beer Stickers Collectors & Traders" has 1,100+ members swapping stickers across the country. Stickers are also hotly sought at "breweriana" events and conventions.
As an added benefit, stickers remind restaurateurs and retailers to order Whetstone. According to Whetstone Director of Sales, Brayton Brown, "When I brought a sample to a new customer, the manager peeled off the sticker, pasted it in the middle of his beer cooler and said, 'It's official. I need to order something from you now.'"