There’s A D-League Beer. I’m Not Kidding.

While the players take care of business on the court….off the court, the Red Claws brand is proving to be a money maker as well.

The team logo features Crusher the lobster—on hats, shirts, banners, even the foam claw. It’s not just Mainers….the team ships out orders to fans across the country.

To try and capitalize on the logo’s success the team has ventured into uncharted marketing territory in the NBA.

Case in point, red claw ale….Gritty McDuff’s a Portland brewer agreed to make the special beer for the team…started selling at the expo where they play, selling so well…why not sell it in other places as well”

So Gritty McDuff’s put Red Claw Ale into 22 ounce bottles and started selling it in grocery stores and beverage centers like RSVP in Portland. Even before the displays went up…customers were buying.

Thomas Wilson–Gritty McDuff’s: “We had boxes or cases of the 22 ounce bottles and people were walking up and taking bottles out of the boxes”

via Red Claws brand proves to be a slam dunk | NECN.

Serious stuff: The work that the RedClaws have done with community development should be put into a case study with attached presentation and sent to every start up franchise in the D-League. Solid affiliation with a parent club, stable ownership, concentrated marketing, and strong community ties, that’s the formula for victory in the D-League marketplace.

If you’re not in a major market, that last point is particularly true. You have to be able to effectively make a connection with the community. Games have to become somewhere people come socially, to see the same people, to make the same jokes, to drink the same light beer. How do you think the NFL has become so popular in places like Green Bay, Kansas City, and other small markets? Sure, the game itself is intensely popular, but on top of that, there’s an overriding sense of community that is present at every tailgate. That’s how you build a consistent fanbase. The Red Claws get that.

Nonserious stuff: Other beers I would like to see: The Sundiata Wheat, The Ten-Day Lager, The Blake Ahearn Tripel-Pointer, BoomGotThemDos Equis, and of course, the Nightmare Artois.

Matt Moore

Matt Moore is a Senior NBA Blogger for's Eye on Basketball blog, weekend editor of Pro Basketball Talk on, and co-editor of Voice on the Floor. He lives in Kansas City due to an unbelievably complex set of circumstances and enjoys mid-90's pop rock, long walks on the beach and the novels of Tim Sandlin.