BeerDorks.com: Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

 
January 7, 2013

Beer Issues:

Tough Noogies

One sure fire way for brewers to build their brand in an increasingly diverse beer culture.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
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So I read a short article the other day about a new problem some craft brewers are running into, that for once doesn’t have to do with big beer pushing them out of the way. In fact, it’s kind of opposite in nature. More and more restaurants, taverns, and retail establishments specializing in catering to craft beer drinkers are aggressively rotating their offerings—too aggessively for some brewers, apparently.

The only brewery quoted in the article is Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing, and it’s the sales and marketing manager, not the brewer, per se, so I’m not all that sure how many “other craft brewers” feel the same way. Basically the gripe is that these so-called “one-and-done” places, while both successful and good for consumers interested only in the next “shiny new thing,” is damaging to established and start up brewers alike because it doesn’t allow them to build up a brand with on premises beer drinkers.

My take on this? Tough fucking noogies.

I’m always excited to try a new brewery’s beers or an existing place’s new offering, there’s plenty of room in my beer fridge for new beers as well as my stalwarts.
I’m not part of that growing “two-ounce” beer culture—extreme beer dorks who just want to try the next new beer to cross off their list and move on—and, while I’m always excited to try a new brewery’s beers or an existing place’s new offering, there’s plenty of room in my beer fridge for those new beers as well as my stalwarts. But, sorry to break this to brewers, this is the landscape of a vibrant craft beer scene.

I could get into the fact that building a beer’s brand (a word I’m not all that fond of, by the way) today requires not just tap handles and shelf space, but: a social media presence; big time legwork on the beer festival circuit; on premises tastings, tap takovers, and beer dinners; advertising (another nasty word) in beer-centric publications; and schmoozing with sleazy beer bloggers (ahem).

But I’m not a marketing manager, whatever the fuck that is. I’m a beer consumer. So I see one answer to this supposed dilemma: think local. It’s no coincidence that the sole quoted lament comes from Boulevard, one of the largest craft breweries in the country. Successfully plowing into new markets requires strong branding to stand out in an established and already crowded market. And not being able to get a dedicated tap handle at a go-to beer bar is a bummer in that regard. That means you need to pull back. In other words, if you can’t hack it in the far flung markets, then you’re too big for your marketing budget. Pull back and focus—or refocus, as the case may be—on your own market. If you’re making great beer and form strong ties with local taverns and restaurants, people will seek out your beer.

Then again, I don’t know shit about marketing beer. Just drinking it.





Comments
Well said, Eddie, and an echo of my own sentiments. As you mentioned, it's really the mid-sized & growing brewers who are fussing as they try to become the "next big thing" and find the game has changed from the strategies employed by the previous generation.
posted by rings | January 8, 2013, 9:41 AM

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