Beer LoveChasing Unicorns

January 13, 2019by Misty Sanford2

Festival season is approaching. Seems like months away for you, the consumer, but now is when we need to have an idea of what we will present to the public. And with the introduction of a plethora of new beers, comes an opportunity for breweries to participate in competitions.

We got asked about awards quite a bit last year. We didn’t win any, but we also didn’t enter any. We don’t want to make beer for the recognition of a panel of judges, GABF or otherwise.

To be frank, I am very much anti-awards. When you enter competitions, you take your eye off the ball. Whether it is the beer or the package, you unconsciously (or consciously) create for the award rather than your mission.

This idea started during my first career. I was a graphic designer working for a large agency, and we weren’t permitted to submit our work to any competition of any size. This might not seem like a big deal to most, but it is HUGE for a designer. Having “award-winning” work in your portfolio is like having MBA or maybe even Ph.D. on your resume. Keep in mind that this was before Pinterest and Instagram (I’m getting old), so it wasn’t easy to develop a following back then.

At the time, I didn’t completely understand the rule, but I now know that when you’re young in your career, chasing awards can be like chasing unicorns. Subconsciously, you start creating for the approval of an unknown panel rather than maintaining a steadfast focus on your mission and the market needs. It’s unintentional, but the creep can’t be avoided when you’re in an absorbent phase.

Manhattan Project is two years old. We’re young. Whether it is a branding package or a new hazy IPA, it is a deeply personal process of creating and then presenting that work to the public, and I will fiercely protect it. We’d much rather get our feedback from you, the people that choose to drink our beer.

And don’t get me wrong, I want to win. But I don’t want a medal. Or a design award for our packaging. I want to win by consistently securing tap handles and shelf space.  Because in my mind, the award indicates that I’m playing it safe. I’m not seeing what is next. Or worse, I’ve lost sight of our business strategy.




Misty Sanford


  • Jim

    February 6, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Misty, as you may recall from our emails, in my book MPB gets gold medals for both the cans and what’s inside them. Cheers!


    • Misty Sanford

      February 6, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you, Jim!


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