Normally ReelChicago is all business, but today we’re going to talk beer. Before you think we’ve thrown back a few too many, let us explain.
Right now we’re sitting at a sweet little bar stationed in the Bridges Media screening room. Brian McCauley, director and creative lead, is pouring Burnt Santa Stout from the tap for us to sample. It’s surprisingly light with a peppery, malty finish. But you can’t buy this beer at your local store. It’s handcrafted especially for Bridges Media.
While it’s no secret Chicago’s hand-crafted beer scene is thriving at some of the hippest bars and restaurants in town, since when does an award-winning media company brew beer?
“Five years ago we were trying to think of a unique way to show our appreciation to our clients because they are the ones who have made us successful,” Chris Dilillo, COO explains.
The beer is brewed off-site in small batches, about 10 gallons at a time, and packaged in 22 oz. bombers (bottles) with custom designed labels. Each bottle is then hand-packed and accompanied by an HD video created by McCauley about the brewing process. Bridges Media currently delivers about 250 bottles a year to their clients during the holiday season. “The reception has been gratifying,” says McCauley. “People love it.”
McCauley and Dilillo head up “Bridges Brewery” and are responsible for packaging design, names, copy on the bottles, and articulating to the brewers what types of beer they are interested in creating.
“Making this beer is a direct reflection of our work culture. The attention to detail and the amount of work that goes into these gifts is exactly what we do with our media projects on a daily basis,” says Dilillo.
Beer names cleverly based on the media industry
Currently, Bridges brews five different kinds of beer a year and tries to change up their recipes every year, although a few have been with them since the beginning. They also invite clients over for tastings of new batches. The employees also taste the beer throughout the year and help decide what is going to be on the menu for the holiday gifts.
The names of the beers and the descriptions are cleverly based on the media industry and Bridges work culture. ReelChicago is privileged to sample some beers that hadn’t been bottled yet: Nelson Sauvan, Recession Wheat — “The recession goes down a lot smoother when you drink it,” laughs McCauley — and Burnt Santa Stout.
“It’s from the heart, and it’s for our clients. It will always be a gift – it will never be for sale,” Dilillo emphasizes.
We take another sip of Nelson Sauvan. It’s flavorful and pleasant on the nose, with hints of citrus. Even better, Brian and Chris gave ReelChicago a bottle to take home.