Call me a beer snob, but…..

http://www.wineryexchange.com/beer.asp

Maybe this is a sign of an impending market collapse for craft beer? Im not one to begrudge anyone the opportunity to make a dollar or two, but this reeks of empty capitalist opportunism in the worst sense. Dont get me wrong, Im no dirty socialist (whatever THAT means these days), but a big part of the reason that I became enthusiastic about craft beer is the incredible number of stories behind small brewers, brewpubs and craft brewers that can be summed up as such: “We couldn’t find the beer we like to drink, so we decided we would learn how and eventually just go into business making the beer we like, the best way we know how to make it and hopefully enough other people like it to keep us in business…” granted, this isnt the same story for EVERYone, but an aggregate market sketch of sorts.

‘What are these guys possibly doing?’ you might ask. The short version is that they are approaching contract brewers with product concept, asking for something in return that fulfills the idea, re-packaging,selling and marketing these relatively non-descript beers in national and regional chain grocery markets in a way that implies the same or similar handcrafted origin that defines ACTUAL craft brewers, but obviously for a much better price. These people are literally nothing more than profiteers with nothing of their own to say except to try and grasp at whatever dollars they reach from people’s pockets that don’t have any idea how the beer industry operates. It looks enough like craft beer, tastes reasonably close/similar to other craft beers, but costs less than good craft beers. Normally I am the first one to argue that everyone should unapologetically drink what they like to drink, I don’t care of its Corona or Miller light, or as much Pliny the Younger as you can get a hold of, enjoy it all you want. The difference is, going into those transactions the consumer has certain expectations and there is an above board nature to it. Someone drinking Bud Light has no pretense that it might be a specially crafted beer, its widely understood to be an industrial light lager that doesnt cost much at all. But this contract brewing nonsense, it feels………deceitful, as though someone thinks they’re going to be drinking an honestly brewed beer, but instead are being sold a false bill of goods. Whats worse is that the people being taken advantage of are the ones that don’t know anything about the craft industry. Those that do know generally avoid these beers, knowing that they dont come from a legitimate craft brewer, so it is almost as if its twice the sin because its the ignorant being fleeced.

By the end of the 90’s the craft beer bubble was bursting thanks to similar products flooding the market, mostly nondescript amber ales with over processed and thinly conceived marketing notions trying to sell poorly made generic reddish beer. I know that the craft market is only 10% of the total market (less than that actually), but if the big brewers (AB Inbev, et al) are entering the market with their own craft brands, maybe its time for all of us craft beer drinkers to start looking more closely at what were drinking and try to help educate our friends to avoid buying these duplicitous products, maybe we can help to avoid another bubble burst…

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3 responses to “Call me a beer snob, but…..

  • Brian

    So edumecate me already.

    • Blawggy

      gladly! Avoid any of the Blue Moon Beers ( I believe they’re a sub of Coors), check out the URL I posted the beginning of the post and dont buy any of the brands listed there ( I believe in our area its Roscoes at Save Mart, Kodiak Ridge at Food 4 Less/Foodmax and Double Take at Safeway, maybe others locally). Kirkland brand is ok because its brewed by Gordon Biersch, the Trader Joes brands are ok similarly because they are brewed other legitimate brewers (Unibroue from Canada, Firestone Walker from SLO and possibly Goose Island though Im not certain)…..others? IF you dont recognize the brewery name, look at the city the package says theyre in and if theyre located in a town you know has a largish craft brewery that has their own operations, its probably fine as well….specific questions?

  • Stesha

    Thank you! I hate Blue Moon and Shock Tops (or whatever they are called)! I much prefer Coors/Miller Lights over both because they are cheaper and I know what I’m getting when I buy it. Sure, it’s not my preferred beer, but sometimes we are too poor to buy what we prefer. And the Coors and Millers of the light lager industry get that and tap into that. You write, “Normally I am the first one to argue that everyone should unapologetically drink what they like to drink, I don’t care of its Corona or Miller light, or as much Pliny the Younger as you can get a hold of, enjoy it all you want. The difference is, going into those transactions the consumer has certain expectations and there is an above board nature to it. Someone drinking Bud Light has no pretense that it might be a specially crafted beer, its widely understood to be an industrial light lager that doesnt cost much at all.” I totally agree! You stated it perfectly. And then you go on to say, “But this contract brewing nonsense, it feels………deceitful, as though someone thinks they’re going to be drinking an honestly brewed beer, but instead are being sold a false bill of goods.” I totally agree, again. All these specialty breweries in my beer places, I know nothing of them unless I give in and pay the 10.99+ for the six pack just to try it out. I don’t. It’s not a bravery thing. It’s a money thing. I can’t afford to try out random “crafts” in my local market. And, I know that there’s a good chance I won’t like it. So, why should I spend my precious money on that when I could spend it on going to a concert I know without a doubt I’ll love? You’ve got it right, Blawggy.

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