08 Apr 2009 @ 6:28 AM 

99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.


Sean over at Fullsteam, a brewery-in-planning in Durham, NC, posted a brilliant piece on his blog yesterday, and it really needs to be shared.

Unfortunately, Sean and I share a lot of viewpoints about beer and craft breweries. I say “unfortunately” because Sean is currently in the throes of a startup and I am not. Color me jealous.

Invite the other 99.

Invite the other 99.

Sean put up a piece about “the other 99 beers.” Give it a read if you get a chance, but I’ll sum it up here, as well. The gist is that, here in NC, craft beer has a 4% market share. He posits that only about 1/4 of that 4% is locally made beer, which brings you down to 1-in-100 drinkers who are actually drinking locally made craft beer. His argument? That the other local beer makers are not his competitors, but his compatriots. He doesn’t want to win over that 1-in-100. He wants to win over the other 99. As he puts it, his market is:

The foodie who boasts about eating local, but has a soft spot for, I don’t know, Iron City. The wine guy who knows all about Puligny-Montrachet’s chalky soil but drinks Amstel Light out of habit. The busy and overwhelmed grocery shopper who buys whatever is on sale.

Yes! I cannot agree with this enough. Unfortunately, this does sort of cast regional breweries as.. well.. not the bad guy, per se, but certainly not the good guy. In this scenario, Sam Adams fills the same (large) niche as Budweiser. No matter how you slice it, they are taking a sale away from a local brewery. On the other hand – that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Those larger craft breweries as well as, let’s face it, the different style options from the megabreweries, give a consumers a familiar product that they can interact with in many different locations – pretty much no matter where they are. You can get Sam Adams Boston Lager – a great brew, make no mistake – at any airport or sports bar. A local brewery is a specialty, like a local dairy or a local bakery; their products are something you can only get in one geographic locale. The people who like good beer enough to buy a Sam Adams are almost definitely the people who will drink a locally brewed beer – but how do you let THEM know that, and in fact, how do you stop them from buying that Sam Adams? And DO you want to stop them from buying that Sam Adams? Probably only where your beer is served.

It’s a delicate balance, to be sure. I think that Sean and Chris at Fullsteam are heading in the right direction with this attitude. I can’t wait to see more.

Tags Tags: , , ,
Categories: appreciation, blog, brewery, op-ed
Posted By: erik
Last Edit: 08 Apr 2009 @ 06 28 AM


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