May be I am a fool but that is how I see it.
Nope, I don't think you are a fool at all. There are a few "breweries" that have been popping up that have T-Shirts, Glasses, Coasters, Stickers, even tap handles - but no beer! Seriously! Talk about putting your cart before the horse.
This is actually a good marketing idea. By branding items and getting the word out well in advance, people are anticipating your product in the market place before it arrives. This is why most companies pre-annouce products. The inability to get a well-branded product actually increases demand. It a strategy heavily employed by Apple Computer. They announce something, it goes on sale, it sells out and you can't get one for weeks. People line up outside the stores just to get one on opening days. Regardless whether you like Apple's products or not, they get a massive amount of free publicity because of the demand they create prior to and during product launch.
Well, it depends on your branding mode (see link I posted before) - it can work, assuming you know what you are doing. That said, we started with a "mystery" approach that built a LOT of suspense in the amrket place and didn't come out even with T-shirts until about 9 months into the business - and sold EVERY drop we made (no returns - knock on wood).
OTOH you better have VERY good beer if you take the above approach, because if you launch and your beers suck, your dead. And I also know of some breweries who are opening up where the idea to open a brewery started first, then they decided to learn how to brew. That is a very, very bad idea.
If you are going to open a brewery you better damn well sure you know how to brew beer. That is ultimately the very most important part. Flash, pomp and swag can coast you a couple years if your lucky. But without the beer you become a joke.
**BTW: Just wanna say - great discussion, folks!****