Launches & Lagers: Can beer lure engineers to the Space Coast?

Economic Development Commission teaming up with 6 Brevard County breweries

Beer being poured into a glass. (Pexels)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – A beer-centric campaign created by the Economic Development Commission of Florida’s Space Coast started with a joke.

Brian Baluta, director of communications and partner relations, and his team were looking at a photo of a smiling couple sipping wine and watching a rocket arcing into the sky.

The question arose: “What wine pairs with a rocket launch?”

“We don’t have wineries,” Baluta said, “but we do have a lot of breweries, many started by engineers.”

Launches & Lagers took off from there, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

“This is an idea that came out of our high-end talent attraction campaign, livebigspacecoast.com,” Baluta said.

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The EDC has long worked with major employers to lure skilled workers to the area and keep them here. The Live Big website includes a link to careers in areas such as “Professional and Scientific Services” and “Health Care and Social Assistance.”

“Because engineers, in particular, are in such demand,” Baluta said, “our talent attraction campaign is focused on lifestyle, showing all the different ways different audiences can enjoy living and working on the Space Coast.”

And what better way to enjoy living here than while sipping a pint of craft beer?

Brevard County currently has eight craft breweries, with a ninth set to reopen in a couple of months and a non-alcoholic beer brewery in the works.

“Where else can you watch a rocket go to space while drinking beer brewed by a rocket scientist?” Baluta said.

The EDC tapped into six of those breweries with its Launches & Lagers campaign.

Preparing for a Lockheed Martin Orion launch? Enjoy it while sipping a Robonaut Red Ale from Playalinda Brewing Company in Titusville.

Is a United Launch Alliance Atlas V preparing for liftoff? Raise a glass of Giant Leap Kolsch Ale from Carib Brewery in Cape Canaveral.

Each pairing includes information about the beer, the rocket and the company that makes that rocket.

“This initiative is very different from traditional economic development campaigns,” EDC President and Chief Executive Officer Lynda Weatherman said recently at the organization’s August board meeting and investor update in Cocoa Village.

After the meeting, attendees were invited to try brews from Beachfly Brewing Company, opening soon in Rockledge; Intracoastal Brewing Company in Eau Gallie; Bugnutty Brewing Company in Cocoa; and Carib.

“It’s really cool,” Zach Featherstone, who worked as a biomedical engineer before opening Beachfly said. “You leave the engineering space to be a brewery. It’s really cool to be part of the tech side of space like this.”

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The EDC has printed versions of Lauches & Lagers, or beer geeks who are also space geeks can visit the Live Big Space Coast website to download a copy. Beneath the photo of each rocket, potential space workers are encouraged to visit livebigspacecoast.com/careers.

When Peter Cranis, executive director of the Space Coast Office of Tourism, saw the brochure, he decided it would be great for visitors as well as potential residents.

“We’ve adopted it,” he said. “We’re using it at visitor centers, and we have it on our website. … From our side of the house, we’re promoting it as a great experience. It’s another thing people can do when they come here.”

There are a lot of milestone launches coming up this year, he said.

“We’re just trying to encourage people to come here and experience new and exciting things.”

This is the second edition of Launches & Lagers, and Baluta already is thinking about what’s next.

Oceanside Distillery, Brevard’s first distillery, opened in June in Cape Canaveral.

“Satellites and shots?” Baluta said.