Let’s paint a picture of Beers X, Y, and Z at your local bar or beer store. From a purely objective standpoint, X is a good local offering (perhaps an exceptional beer), Y is a less desirable local (a bad beer in every sense, but with good marketing), and Z is a good non-local (maybe even a great, transcendent beer).
You are a local homer to the homereth degree (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and you choose Beer Y for sheer local sake and because some local marketing has made an impact on you. Beers X and Z — beers that are objectively better and more deserving of your purchase — have thus lost a sale.
Let’s say that this scenario plays out again and again. These decisions to buy Beer Y over Beers X and Z compound and send signals to the producers of Beers X and Z that perhaps their offerings are in the wrong market. However, Beer X – being local – will still gain some traction due to the “local for local sake” movement and the benefit of proximity. It’s ultimately Beer Z — the transcendent beer — that suffers the most in this equation. Without your purchase and without the benefit of being a local, the ultimately best beer choice you could have made is continuously neglected.
As this scenario repeats and compounds — not just by you, but by others in your community — the producers of Beer Z get those signals that perhaps your market isn’t right for them. Perhaps to the point that they decide to leave your market. All while the perception that Beer Y is a “worthy” beer gets undeservingly inflated and a hype builds.
As things continue to bloom in the craft beer market, the beer you choose becomes paramount to the overall diversity and quality of the market. Simply stated, it is the purchases you do and don’t make that determine what beer is made available to you the next time you visit your bar or beer store.
FAREWELL SWEET GODDESS
“In 2015 we began distribution to Dallas, Texas, our first time selling in the state. With Andrews Distributing Company as our partner, we set out to join the evolving craft beer market in Northern Texas. As we continued to evaluate the performance of our brand in the market, it became clear we were not hitting our goals.
As with any market we enter, our utmost goal is to provide the highest-quality beer to our customers. Due to limited demand in the Dallas market, it became difficult for us to guarantee our customers could enjoy our beer as fresh as possible. We are proud to maintain a professional relationship with the Andrews team and will continue our partnership when and if we recommence business in Texas.”
This is an official statement from Ninkasi Brewing in regards to their recent decision to leave the exploding supernova that is the Texas craft beer market.
Which drives home the point of the picture we painted at the start. As we said, after receiving these signals that perhaps there’s not a match within your market, a brewery will make the decision to exit your market.
Eugene, Oregon’s Ninkasi Brewing, the 33rd largest independent craft brewery in the US, pulled out of Texas after struggling to find a strong foothold in the Lone Star State. A state which continues to see strong craft beer growth per the Brewers Association.
Ninkasi brews consistently great beers such as Oatis, Maiden the Shade, Tricerahops, and Ground Control — beers that are excellent examples of their styles. Privately owned Ninkasi Is committed to doing things the right way. They are a product of the communities they serve and as such want to generously give back through their Beer is Love program. They even made the decision to abandon AB-InBev distributors in search of independent wholesalers and distribution — a move that certainly wasn’t a financially easy one to make. All in the pursuit to be the best craft brewery they can be.
Ninkasi has been able to dig into the western region of the US from Arizona to Washington and on the east coast in New York, Virginia, and Maryland. They’ve even found homes in Canada and Alaska.
So then, how could a brewery that has found such great success in other markets and does things the right way not find it in Texas? If we may get poetic, Texas was a bucking bronc that just couldn’t be tamed. And we only have ourselves to blame.
IT’S A MATTER OF CHOICE
Getting back again to our Beers X, Y, and Z.
We know that the real world isn’t this simple or as conveniently laid out as this hypothetical. But it’s all in the choices we make. We do believe in the freedom of choice. We do cheer for any and all independent craft breweries to put out great product that is of higher quality than conglomerate-owned breweries. And we know that if beers that deserved our dollar only spent a little more of their own dollars on marketing, perhaps they wouldn’t find themselves in these situations (especially if they’re from out of state). Give consumers that extra chance to make the right choice.
However, there is still a fundamental flaw that is most likely driving these sometimes flawed choices: education. Consumers (you) simply just may not know that there are better options out there. Whether it’s convincing you to take that leap from faceless, conglomerate beer to that being brewed within your own community by a hard-working craft beer warrior. Or it’s convincing you that just because a beer is brewed in your zip code doesn’t make it quality or the best choice. There are established, independent breweries from other areas of the country with proven track records and world-class quality control processes that produce beers that will make you want to just hand over your bank account.
It just takes someone willing and able to guide the consumer (you) towards those beers. It requires someone taking a step back and recognizing that although the local brewer’s heart may be in the right place, their level of talent or quality might not be. And it takes someone with the expert knowledge of the overall craft beer market to bring those beers that are top-quality and put them in front of the consumer (you).
It’s been the mission of Flying Saucer since day one to be that expert that brings you only the best beer. And with the incredible craft beer boom of the last 10 years (especially the last three to five), it’s been a point on which we’re refocusing and recentering. We have a plethora of average or good choices. But why settle for average or good when there are great, exceptional, and even transcendent options right there next to them for the same price?
So, when we lose the opportunity to sell Texas Beerknurds a damn delicious Ninkasi Maiden the Shade because the market has erroneously buried it, we feel like we may have failed. And we hate that feeling, because that means we lose out on the opportunity to share other Ninkasi brews with you. And then, we lose out on the opportunity to attract other fantastic breweries from across the country. We all miss out on so many craft beer opportunities. And that’s not what you deserve.
It’s not just limited to Ninkasi or to Texas. It could be any of the nation’s truly excellent breweries in any state in which we’ve made a home. The purchases you make send the same message regardless of where you live.
It all begins with you. Who are you supporting? Why are you supporting them? Come in to your Saucer and let’s chat about it. There’s nothing we love to chat about more. The worst that could happen is that you end up drinking a great beer. The best that could happen? You could drink an even greater beer and give us all the opportunity to drink even more of it.
The choice is up to you.