Brew Talks Recap: The Intersection of Crypto and NFTs in Brewery Taprooms

Cryptocurrency and NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are slowly seeping into beer culture.

Two early adopters of the Web 3.0 tech — Kurtis Cummings, founder and CEO of Switchyard Brewing in Indianapolis, and Daniel Paul Wellendorf, co-owner and head of marketing of Modist Brewing in Minneapolis — shared their experiences during Brewbound’s Brew Talks meetup in Minneapolis last week during the Craft Brewers Conference.

Switchyard’s acceptance of cryptocurrency in its taproom — which began earlier this year — is a long-term play, Cummings explained.

“We’re looking at the 10-year plan,” he said. “We’re not converting this over and making a quick buck.”

After a month of accepting crypto payments, Switchyard has already accepted 10 times more crypto payments than the total number of physical checks it did in 2021.

Cummings compared adoption of crypto to smartphones. In May 2021, 11% of consumers used crypto, similar to smartphones eight years ago.

“We are still super early in the crypto game,” he said.

Although Modist has yet to accept crypto payments in its taprooms, Wellendorf explained that the brewery has not shied away from exploring new technologies. His advice for those considering either: don’t jump in unless you believe in what you’re doing. That was one of the takeaways Wellendorf had from the company’s dalliance with Hex Code, a special release beer with augmented reality and NFT components.

“The fact that there was an NFT attached to it, people didn’t like it,” Wellendorf said.

The negativity stemmed from the energy intensiveness of crypto. Once the negative comments began pouring in, Modist shifted gears and found ways to make the project more eco-friendly.

“We were able to find a cryptocurrency that fit our values as an environmentally friendly company,” he said. “We were able to make sure that it was carbon neutral to what we could trace but also to that individual, we could say, ‘We feel you. This is a big deal, let’s make sure that we’re thinking through things together.’”

“There’s a lot of reasons to believe the crypto world is the future, there’s a lot of reasons to believe decentralizing the internet is a good thing. There’s a power to the people element to it. No one loves how much power is consolidated in Web 2.0. There are a couple of players that determine everything. If the next level of that would be power to you and me and everyone, but those are all beliefs I’ve come to find as I was getting challenged.”

Cummings added that he believes crypto will be a part of the future due to the adoption by companies such as Starbucks, PayPal and the Cash App. However, he stressed the importance of learning about these opportunities before jumping in.

“Before anyone gets into this you need to be super knowledgeable about what you’re doing because you can screw up and you could lose a lot of money really fast,” he said. “It’s just like any emerging technology, there are bad actors out there that will take you for a run. Partner up with a local university, partner with someone you trust. Your keys, your crypto.”

Watch the conversation below.

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