By now you must've heard about the shitstorm raised by Dan Paquette. If you haven't yet, go here, here or here to get a good picture.
Of all the people who've so far commented on the issue (or at least, of the ones I follow), I think it is Zak Avery the one who's seen it most clearly when speaks about the “sexy” and the “dull” bits of the beer business, and how the latter has been largely ignored.
All this often unconditional praise for a branch of the brewing industry, which in some cases reaches almost religious fervour, seems to have many people believe that setting up their own micro-breweries is only a few bits short of guaranteed success. It is not much more than a matter of slapping those two words on the label, having the right attitude, speaking—perhaps preaching—about your passion, and your awesome masterpieces will sell by themselves. Everybody loves craft beer, right? It's so huge that the evil, monolithic, multinational macro breweries are afraid of it. Why would they come out with their “crafty” beers, otherwise?
Marketing? Pfff! Who needs marketing when you're part of a Movement! Marketing is the bullshit the industrial breweries use to sell their swill. Craft beer is not commercial, it doesn't need any of that. If you make friends with some of the influential bloggers and writers, and other Craft Beer Evangelists, who will love you from day one, they will tell the world how awesome your masterpieces are, and then the orders will pour down. Aren't beer bars and stores also part of the movement, after all? It's where the revolution is taking place!
Consistency? Pfff! Consistency is sooo overrated! Creativity! That's the thing everyone wants, no matter the price. Be creative, and passionate (don't forget your passion, never forget your passion) and people will buy tickets to buy your beer. Spread the gospel of your awesome, creative masterpieces, everyone will love it, mate! You'll be like a rock star! Those who criticise you? Don't listen to them, they are only penny-pinchers who want to hurt the Movement...
You've been fed so much bullshit! And by us, the bloggers, the writers, the magazine editors. We've all bought that and then sold it to you at some point or another, and some still do.
That thing about the movement, the revolution? Bollocks, all of it. They're marketing buzzwords at best. What you are part of is an industry, a market, with the same rules as every industry and market. And this industry and market, just like any other, can be unfair, very unfair.
It doesn't matter how great your beers (or rather, how great you think they) are, you'll still have to go out and sell them. Bloggers, writers, magazines and reviews will help you only to some extent. You will still need to get the attention of bar and shop owners. It is incredible how many brewers don't understand that it is not me whom they have to convince to buy their beer, but the owners of the pubs and shops where I go (I might love you beer, but if I can't find it at my favourite pub or shop, I will buy another beer that I love)
And you know what? The owners of pubs and shops don't care how good your beer is. Well, they do, but not nearly as much as how good it can be for their business. They might wish you well, they might love your stuff as drinkers, but few will not hesitate to drop it to make room for some other thing they believe it'll be better for their bottom lines.
I know, I know, that sucks. And some of those pub and shop owners will even expect you to send them a keg or a case or two for free. You hate that, don't you? Them cunts! It's awful... But wait a second! Didn't you send a case to a blogger the other day (or was it a magazine editor?) or had a couple of them over at the brewery? How many cases or kegs did you sell after they posted their glowing reviews?
Once again, I apologise if we've made you believe it was easy, even if you were a fool for believing it in the first place. It's not. It may've been a few years ago, when we were happy to get at least some diversity, but we've got plenty of diversity now, and not enough money to buy it all.
Now, stop whining and go and sell your beer already. Accept reality as it is, because you I doubt you'll be able to change it.
PS: About the bribe thing. It is another aspect of business reality, and a very ugly one that will not be eradicated, however good the justice system may or may not work, as the lines are often blurred—where does a legitimate business incentive end and a bribe start? All you can do is ask yourself how wise it is to do business with someone who asks you for baksheesh.
Also let's not forget that Dan Paquette's company "Pretty Things Beer and Ale project". Doesn't own a brewery because according to their website "It costs too much". They don't own their own pub probably because owning a pub is loads of hard work and also expensive. So no brewery, no pub, and they want to industry to make it even easier for them than it already is. Sorry folks it doesn't work that way. You want to control your own tap lines then shut up and put your balls on the line and invest in a pub or take advantage of the laws that exist today in Massachusetts and open your own brewery with your own tasting room. But that would involve real risk and busting your ass.ReplyDelete
I forgot to mention that bit, that you don't even need to have a brewery to be a successful brewery!Delete
That's extremely unfair to Dann. He's worked his bollocks and risked everything he owned to start that busniess. His situation is little different to someone who does own a brewery. When it comes to bars asking for money to seell your beers, it doesn't matter if you own the kettles or not. The only exception would be a brewpub that didn't sell its beer anywhere else.Delete
But Dan's business is also a product of the current market environment, isn't he? An environment that almost promises people they will be successful regardless of whether they building a brick-and-mortar brewery or not.Delete
Dan might well have worked hard Ron but his rants about other breweries "buying lines" made him look a total tit.Delete
Good post. I find it kind of interesting that something that everyone in the industry knows happens is making such big news (kind of funny that some people have never heard of this before).ReplyDelete
The bar industry is a bit dirty at times. Yuengling returning to Boston is a good example. http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2014/04/01/yuengling-impact-being-felt-mass/kizbtou1OAfNCYsjDIN1II/story.html There is a large bit of naivety at times about this and your article sums this up perfectly with the religious fevour of some enthusiasts.
The reply to Dan points out the most crucial point which is despite being cool and making great beer they just werent competitive on price which backs up your point of who is the brewer selling the beer too. https://app.box.com/s/f7pk06ins2dpbg4zdlkl
Thats my 2 cents and great article.
we've got plenty of diversity now, and not enough money to buy it all.///ReplyDelete
Wow. Sounds like the slogan of today's Moscow craft beer scene:)
This is so refreshingly ... true! I like this bit and what follows it:ReplyDelete
"It is incredible how many brewers don't understand that it is not me whom they have to convince to buy their beer, but the owners of the pubs and shops where I go"
As an owner of a pub (two until recently) I've been amazed at how frequently brewers and people who work for them are arrogant and sometimes actively *rude* to me when they're selling beer. If you push back on price they patronise you, suggesting you don't understand "craft beer". If you ignore their advances because, frankly, it's a buyers' market and you get approached almost every day by another start-up brewery, they get shirty. There's a presumption on the part of about 50% of people setting up breweries that pubs owe it to them to buy their beer, at whatever price, in whatever condition.
And don't ask me how they respond when you point out the bottled samples they gave you were faulted...
That is one of those topics I don't believe is not dealt with enough (if at all). We've all been getting that movement, revolution bullshit, but the truth is that your interests as a pub owner are different than those of a brewer, or mine. I believe you are in a better position than anyone to shed some light here (though I won't blame you if you'd rather keep your opinions to yourself for reasons that are more than obvious).Delete