Everything I've learned about Kelsey Grammer’s vaguely Christian craft beer brand
Plus: Bitter bitters workers and a murdered darling from my Elvira/Coors Light feature
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I was raised for most of my life in New Jersey, and lived in New York for almost a decade after college, so I have drank a lot of beer in those two states. I also cover the beer business for a living. Despite all that, until recently I had never heard of, much less laid eyes on, Kelsey Grammer’s vaguely Christian craft beer brand, which apparently distributes exclusively in New York and New Jersey.
Maybe I lost you at the phrase “Kelsey Grammer’s vaguely Christian craft beer brand,” and frankly, I kind of lost me, too. Let’s break down the key terms here:
Kelsey Grammer: The actor who played Frasier in Frasier and a rich guy in 2020’s Money Plane, a movie that is exactly what it sounds like.
Christian: A devotee of the monotheistic religion centered around the teachings of Jesus and a book called The Bible.
Craft beer brand: A product line of full-flavored, malt-based alcoholic beverages marketed to drinkers as an alternative to macrobrewers’ light adjunct lagers.
Does that clear things up? No? Well, too bad. Kelsey Grammer has a craft beer outfit called Faith American Brewing Company, and we’d all better start wrapping our heads around it.
Now, I don’t hold it against you if you still don’t believe this. I barely do. For example, at first I thought this tweet was a joke:
But then I looked into it, and I can assure you, it is No Joke. The company registered a (now-abandoned) trademark in 2017. Neither of its two beers come up in the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Trade Bureau’s online database of registered beer labels, but that doesn’t mean much because the search function on that thing is extremely finicky. According to its website, Faith American operates on a “former cauliflower and dairy farm” in the Catskills, which is also home to its “seasonal tavern.”
Its sole Yelp review places the tavern’s soft opening in September 2019. “The beer right now is an ale that is good and the location is great, wrote Carrie F. “Beautiful building and land that they are establishing themselves at.” Five stars.
Kelsey Grammer would likely agree with Carrie F.’s assessment. Here, via the brewery’s website, are some of his own thoughts on Faith American:
We will brew at the old dairy farm site and explore this marvelous craft, living in harmony with the land and the people here, harvesting our potential together as Faith American Brewing Company brings joy to our customers and revenue to the community. May fortune smile on this venture and the good people of our town, these mountains and our blessed nation. Free of shame and without apology, we thank God for the abundance in our lives and for this opportunity.
As far as marketing copy goes, this is fine I guess, but it fails to answer the question that’s been bugging me ever since the Fingers Fam’s Brandon H. messaged me about this a few weeks ago. Namely: How have I never heard of Kelsey Grammer’s brewery before?
I receive, like, 30 pitches a day about CBD dog treats and non-alcoholic mixology kits and SO MANY wellness products even though I have never written anything about wellness and don’t consider myself particularly well. As noted above, I’ve spent substantial time over the past half-decade buying beer in many of the NY and NJ counties that Faith American is supposedly sold in. I was also raised Catholic. I don’t know what denomination Faith American Brewing Company considers itself, but I know that it was launched in 2015. Why, then, have I never gotten one single pitch about Kelsey Grammer’s faith-based brewery?
The company makes two beers: an American Lager, and Calico Indian IPA, named for the upstate NY farmers who, in the mid-1800s, “wore disguises of Calico, a new material imported from India, in their fight to resist a corrupt system of rent for land they worked.” Noted conservative and Trump supporter Kelsey Grammer basically said “abolish rent.” The mind, she boggles.
My ignorance aside, it’s not like Grammer himself has been keeping his pious alework a secret. In 2019, he visited the New York Stock Exchange to “introduce” Faith American “to the financial world.” He got a medallion; we got this wonderful photo.
Back in February 2020, right before the pandemic hit, Kelsey also attended the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association’s 43rd-annual trade show and conference. According to a press release from Faith American, he received an honorary membership to the NJLCA, “greeted hundreds of his Faith American enthusiasts and shared samples of his company’s beer, courtesy of the NJLCA, on the trade show floor.” A good time was had by all, and in particular Kelsey Grammer, who apparently got to check out the latest in zero-turn-radius mower technology at the Toro booth.
And as we know from aforementioned supermarket flyer, this year he’s been promoting Faith American at in-person appearances across New York and New Jersey. I was able to make contact via text with one source who inadvertently attended a Faith American event at a Jersey Shore this past summer.
“I saw & met Kelsey Grammer on June 3rd at the Crab’s Claw Inn in Lavallette,” Ryan D. told me. “He was promoting his beer by working behind the bar giving samples and pouring real glasses for those who wanted to drink it.” Ryan and his friends had rolled through to celebrate his birthday, and the fact that Frasier was there, pulling pints for all comers, was just an added bonus.
Will Faith American expand to more states in the future? Why doesn’t the company distribute to the entire middle of NY State, or plant its flag on the thirsty shores of Manhattan or Long Island? How did Kelsey get into craft brewing in the first place, given that it’s not exactly fertile ground for celebrities? These questions and more, I’d like to ask Faith American, but I’m not sure how: their site’s “Contact” page offers no form, email address, or phone number, and their Facebook page doesn’t accept messages. (If you know how to get in touch with Kelsey & co., please let me know! And if you’re Kelsey Grammer reading this right now… uh, hi Kelsey! Email me!)
[UPDATE 11/2/21: Tipster Ben G. of the Fingers Fam tells me that despite what Faith American’s distribution map says, the brand actually IS distributed in NYC/Long Island thanks to a distribution deal inked earlier this year. Working on getting more details from the distributor in question, stay tuned!]
Unfortunately, despite keeping an eye out for Faith American on a recent visit to upstate NY, your fearless Fingers editor couldn’t find Faith American beers anywhere, and thus am unable to tell you Kelsey Grammer’s beers taste. The brewery holds a decent 3.59 rating on Untappd, though, and Ryan D. says they’re alright. Down the shore this past June, he enjoyed two of Grammer’s American ales. “I’m not a huge beer guy but it was good. It had a fruit taste but wasn’t ridiculously fruity/sweet,” said Ryan.
Of course, as I’ve argued before, brewing solid beer is only one factor in a brand’s success. You’ve also got to master distribution and marketing, and defend tap placements. On that last count, Grammer & co. may have some work to do. “The Crab’s Claw did not have it on tap all summer,” Ryan told me. “[E]ither it ran out and stopped buying it or it wasn’t selling enough.”
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📬 Good post alert
Woke up thinking about this tweet for some reason. An instant classic imo.
💀 Murdered darling: “If you don't like the cleavage, then you don't… use Elvira.”
Last week I published a Halloween story at VinePair about Elvira’s late 20th-century turn as Halloween spokeswoman for Coors Light, which in the mid-Eighties was making its push to achieve the national scale needed to compete with Anheuser-Busch and Miller.
For the piece, I interviewed the Mistress of the Dark herself, actress Cassandra Peterson. Now 70, she’s funny as hell and has a new best-selling memoir out. Throughout our conversation, Peterson toggled from delighted to mildly annoyed with how Coors—which was then still firmly under the influence of the eponymous family, a notably conservative bunch socially and politically—handled the Elvira campaigns for the half-dozen years they were on the air before stopping them entirely in the mid-’90s.
One vignette that earned only brief mention in the final piece was her perspective about how vital Elvira’s chest was to the character’s overall aesthetic—something she vowed to always remember after accommodating Coors’ requests for modesty on the Silver Bullet campaigns. Here’s Peterson (emphasis mine) about Coors and cleavage:
It was very major part [of the Elvira character.] After Coors, I stopped doing that. I drew the line. I said, I just want… the character needs to look like this all the time. I'm not going to put panels over my boobs, I'm not gonna try to cover them up. This is when she looks like. I kind of looked at it like Superman, and that triangle [S logo] he has on his chest. I look at that white piece of skin shaped like a V as part of the Elvira character. I really don't want that obscured. It’s not about showing more cleavage, it's about the way the head of hair comes down and then that V [shape] going down like that with the white skin against the black dress. I did Coors and… after that, I said, “If you don't like the cleavage then you don't need to use Elvira.”
This story was a ton of fun to report, and the art alone (by designer Colin Verdi directed by VinePair’s Danielle Grinberg) is worth the click. Check it out here.