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Burnt City Brewing

Over ten years ago, Burnt City Brewing started making well-balanced, nuanced beers in Chicago, Illinois. They pride themselves on sophisticated flavor nuance and profound drinkability. In their West Town home, they host the Founder Hour events series several times a year. This event campaign, which we launched together in 2021, is a community-building evening of education and celebration that continues today.

Burnt City Brewing hosts an event series called Founder Hour, highlighting features of their current popular offerings. These initial email campaigns were so successful and created lasting FOMO that make this event series a success to this day. 

Founder Hour Event Series

Community is something we’re always craving.
Whether we’re admittedly extroverts or not, togetherness is something we all want. Friends, conversation and fun times are the bedrock of of neighborhoods. Add tasty beverages to that list and you’ve basically summarized the brewing community in Chicago.

Burnt City wanted to capitalize on this sentiment both before and after the pandemic. The very first Founder Hour was a free event that gathered local beer lovers in the brewery to converse with the Burnt City brewers and learn a thing or two about the newest beer offerings. After incredible demand and a few months of isolation, Founder Hour became a highly coveted ticketed event that brought the biggest beer fans together to learn a little something and raise a glass to the freshest beers on the block.

High-Demand Event

Target Email List

Limited Availability

The Assignment

Burnt City Brewing wanted to launch a paid, ticketed event inspired by the success of their previously free Founder Hour. This event would bring a limited number of loyalty program members into the brewery for a lively and educational hour with drinks and a dinner discount to ticket holders. The founders and brewers would network and mingle with guests after the educational portion and take them on a lighthearted tour of the brewery. The events would take place once a quarter on a weeknight with the goal of boosting off-night sales and creating community around the already exclusive event. 


The Initiative

In addition to capitalizing on the natural curiosity around brewing, an occupation traditionally perceived as “fun”, Burnt City founders were feeling the need for community and connection after the pandemic. Founder Hour was not only a way to make money, but a way for the isolated makers to meet the most dedicated beer fans. It brought people together in a setting where curiosity was welcome and questions were encouraged. Founder Hour tickets were very limited, keeping the setting intimate and making it easy for guests to meet each other. The evenings were, and are to this day, small gatherings that emphasize the importance of neighborhood connection. The hope is that every guest can discover another layer of their third place, somewhere they belong and find a like-minded community around great beer. 


A Limited Audience

For this particular event, I suggested BCB keep the audience small and target only their loyalty members. The result would be better when sent to a key demographic of the most engaged fans. However, the corresponding social media marketing covered and recapped the event to encourage FOMO and increase loyalty membership sign-ups. It was clearly communicated that tickets would be limited for this event and that the Founder Hour event series would occur sparingly throughout the year. These were treated as exclusive events for true fans and the most loyal customers. 


Sold Out


Increase Food Sales


Open Rate

Shocking Demand

The response was immediately overwhelming for the first paid Founder Hour.

  • 100% of all tickets sold within four hours.
  • 100% of purchases were direct click-throughs from the email campaigns. This particular campaign was kept private, so patrons had to use the email link to purchase tickets.
  • The food discount included in the ticket price encouraged all guests to stay and order dinner, increasing food sales on an off-night by 18%.
  • The limited number of tickets created high demand for future events.
  • The targeted audience was a great choice, as these highly engaged customers came to support the brewery.
  • The loyalty program saw an 8% increase in sign-ups the week of the event’s social media publicity.


Continued Success

In the time that I worked on this campaign, every Founder Hour sold out within 2-4 hours of the email launches.

Each event was cross-promoted on social media channels and continued to boost loyalty membership signups between 3-12% for 6 consecutive quarters.

Food sales were routinely boost on Founder Hour evenings between 6-18%.

Ticket amounts were, and are to this day, kept small to encourage community building and mingling among neighborhood beer fans.

Since its initial success, several other area breweries have launched similar intimate programs to reward the biggest fans with special programs.



The event email marketing Founder Hour at Burnt City Brewing proved to be a huge success. It is a program that continues to run and gives customers a behind-the-scenes look at one of their favorite neighborhood businesses with other craft beer lovers. Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, we can all agree that tasty beers make for good party fodder. With one in hand, you’re sure to make a friend or two.



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