It’s official: Big beer corporations are dropping prices of their “craft” lagers and IPAs in hopes of appealing to more Bud Light drinkers. On the one hand, this is a bad thing. It makes it hard for tiny, truly local (one might argue truly “craft”) breweries to sustain themselves. On the other hand, it’s a good thing: better beer in the hands of more people.
Craft beer is a luxury. Not everyone who can spend $6 on a 6-pack of premium domestic lager can spend $18 on a 4-pack of excellent beer from an independent brewery. Take Founders Solid Gold. With its 6-pack of cans priced at $8, Founders gets to compete with the big(ger) boys like Bud ($6), Miller ($6), and Coors ($6).
The diehard beer community (read: me, my friends, like-minded nerds) will happily invest in cutting-edge craft brews from local breweries we love. The Founders Solid Golds of the world fill a different void in the market.
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Though they may not influence the communities in which they are sold as directly as a local mom-and-pop might, cheaper craft beer is a lower barrier to entry for beer drinkers as a whole. If increasing competition means my brother might someday pick up a 6-pack of Ballast Point Sculpin IPA instead of Corona Light, that’s pretty great. Then, maybe the next time he walks past his local brewery, he’ll go in.
Better, cheaper beer is a short-haul loss for some of us, but a long-term victory for all.
Brewers Don’t Have to be Storytellers, Too
Chad Melis, former marketing director for Oskar Blues and Canarchy, recently left his position to start his own media company, Turn it Up Media. Its goal? Authentic storytelling.
Other brewers are also getting in on the action, making content production and storytelling parts of their internal operations. This month, Dogfish Head relaunched its YouTube web series, “That’s Odd, Let’s Drink It!”. BrewDog announced its own Netflix-adjacent streaming service, the BrewDog Network. And the icing on the cake might be the forthcoming documentary, “The Beer Jesus of America,” starring Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch. (Spoiler alert: He’s Jesus.) And the Brewers Association yesterday announced another campaign as part of its independent seal, “That’s Independence You’re Tasting,” with videos emphasizing the importance of consumer choice.
Are these the stories we want to hear? So far, “That’s Odd, Let’s Drink It!” is basically an ad for Dogfish beers, particularly Sea Quench. The BrewDog Network, despite the usual BrewDog backlash, has drinking-related shows that aren’t available on Netflix; but that $5-a-month subscription fee could be better spent, like on a beer. As for Beer Jesus, I am totally cool with comparing craft beer to religion, but personally feel that one Jesus is enough.
Ultimately, storytelling is important, but brewers should show, not tell. A brewery’s ethos or authenticity should come out in its beer: how its ingredients are sourced, its operations run, how owners treat their employees, and how the company is involved with its community.
Brewers don’t need to be storytellers. Let brewers be brewers, and beer be beer.
Thank You, Captain Obvious: Hazy IPA and Rosé Were Trending This Summer
According to Craft Brewing Business, which anecdotally surveyed bartenders and managers from Bottleneck Management, a beer-focused restaurant group with 15 locations across the country, the summer’s top trends in beer were hazy IPAs, rosé, and sessionability.
Well, duh. The haze craze mystified bars from Pennsylvania to Illinois. “We have placed anywhere from eight to 10 [Hazy IPAs] on our lineup. Guests are specifically requesting these to servers when they come in,” Paul Williams, general manager of Old Town Pour House in Naperville, Ill., said.
Rosé ciders and nostalgic slushie-style drinks also found their niches this summer, as did sessionable beers.
In summertime, drinkers aren’t looking for complexity. They’re looking for exactly what you think they’re looking for: tasty, fun, irreverent beverages that will make them feel good without trying too hard. Innovation and diversification are important in any beverage industry, but in the summertime, it’s all about making the livin’ easy.
What I hope is that our tastes evolve with the seasons. Drink what you like, but don’t be scared to try new things.