How many times have we been in a bar with friends drinking a few pints, and sometime in the conversation someone has an idea for a new business or a product that will revolutionize the world, and everyone is like, “You should totally do that!” Everyone’s excited and your imagination starts wandering to thoughts of world domination and piles of cash. But then you start going through all the logistics and details in your head and you totally psyche yourself out. Idea fizzles, nothing happens.
Well, Tanner Fritz and Joe Hall were grabbing a beer after work at Olde Mecklenburg’s tap room in Charlotte about four months ago, and the ideas were flowing like the Mecklenburger. They both love craft beer and witnessed the craft beer scene in Charlotte blow up over the past few years. “Charlotte’s craft beer scene is growing just like the rest of the Carolinas, and we both found ourselves in it saying, ‘We want to be more involved in this, how do we find a way to take our social lives and do more with it?'” Tanner explained after he introduced himself to me last week. “Neither of us were much of a homebrewer, we figured that out. But we thought there’s no greater way to identify yourself as a craft beer enthusiast than what you wear.”
Unlike most, this was one idea that did not die. About a month ago, Tanner and Joe took that initial vision and launched Batch Apparel, a line of custom designed t-shirts that center around craft beer culture. Most beer geeks have a collection of t-shirts from their favorite breweries, but no one had developed a line of apparel that could be a common symbol to unite those that love craft beer.
“From an apparel standpoint, similar to what Life is Good did for outdoor, hiking-types,” Tanner said. “We realized there really isn’t anything that is appealing to a beer fan apparel wise. We’re going after more like concepts, what it means to be a craft beer enthusiast or homebrewer, as opposed to specific breweries.”
The guys began by working with local designers, printers and brewers to create a product that was high-quality, unique and true to the craft beer spirit. Building on the premise of how each batch of crafted beer is unique in its own way, Tanner told how part of the inspiration behind Batch Apparel came to be, “We were at Olde Mecklenburg talking about this idea, and we went to order more beers, and they were out of Mecklenburger, and we were astounded they were out… We loved that concept, and if we did these shirts, it would be some sort of batch process, like a real craft beer, where you can only get it for so long and it’s kind of painful because you can’t get it anymore once it’s sold out.”
Just like there’s a story behind every brewery and every beer, they wanted to tell the story of how each design came about. If you check out their website, they have a page dedicated to the evolution of each design.
In addition to the line of t-shirts, Tanner and Joe also plan on drawing people in through events and activities to complete the lifestyle experience around the Batch Apparel brand. Around the time the website went live, they had their launch party at Growler’s Pourhouse. The response was great, and they had about 250 people come out to support them. “The thought is to do four to six events a year and make sure it’s pushing a brewery and it’s not just about some t-shirt,” Tanner said.
After we chatted, Tanner sent me a “Share Your Craft” shirt. I requested a medium, and it turned out to be a good fit. Shapely, yet not too tight. It’s very comfortable, good choice of cut and material.
The inside label doesn’t tell what the fabric is, but it feels like those new-fangled half cotton/half polyester t-shirts that are super-soft and feel like they’ve already been broken in for five years when they’re straight off the rack. This shirt will become a regular in my rotation.
As I was finishing my chat with Tanner, he summed up the mission of Batch Apparel, “It’s been fun. We get to hang out with brewers and go to events. It’s been a good time.” Keep up the good fight, guys. Crank out some good designs on comfortable shirts, and good things will happen.
Oh, and if you’re reading this, go buy a shirt.