So while our usual craft beer man is recovering from his extended vacation to Key West (wahhhh I need time to recover from being in paradise) I thought I would jump in with a post of my own.
If you’ve listened to some of our beer related episodes (here and here) you know I have some strong opinions on the craft beer industry. So let’s just assume I’ve been named Head Czar of the craft beer industry, that’s a real position right? Here’s what I would change about the craft beer industry…
Cut Back The Alcohol
Look, I understand that higher alcohol beers have their place. I love a good 8-10% on a cold winter night. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to send out a search party at a bar just to find a beer that was less than 6%. You can have a beer with plenty of flavor and still keep the alcohol content at a reasonable level. I mean don’t you want people to enjoy as many of your beers as possible? A 7 or 8% beer isn’t going to have a lot of repeat orders at one sitting.
It’s kind of like all of the craft brewers are “bros” at the gym all trying to out bench press each other. Ease up fellas! We get it, you can dump a ton of malt into your beer and jack up the alcohol. But think about our livers for a moment! Or at least think about the economic model. Less alcohol means there’s a better chance that someone is going to order multiple beers at one sitting.
And While We’re Cutting Things…
How about the cost? I majored in marketing so I fully grasp the “supply and demand” model. But just like finding a beer that is less than 6%, it’s almost impossible to find a beer that is less than $6. A lot of this is on the establishments as well. And I know you’re paying for top quality ingredients. But again, I’m, more likely to buy 2-3 beers at $5 each than at $8. There’s a craft beer establishment near my house that is pushing $8 for just about every beer on tap. Last time I paid that much for a beer was at Yankee Stadium. And at least there I got to watch a baseball game.
We Don’t Need No Education…Oh Wait Yes We Do!
When you’re trying to break a century or so of beer drinking habits in this country you have to be willing to educate the masses. Don’t just assume because your beer costs more we will understand that it’s better than your macrobeer cousins. Tell us why ingredients matter. Tell us the difference between a porter and a stout, to be honest I’m still not sure the answer to that.
Part of marketing is education. Craft brewers need to realize this and do a better job of telling craft beer newbies why they should be drinking their beers, and what the different styles are. When I’m in bars I love giving my friends suggestions and getting to know their preferences. Craft brewers should do the same. Set up “beer finders” on their websites that let people input flavor profiles to help them select what style would be best for them. Use your blog or website to highlight the differences between beer styles.
Stop Making It An Us vs. The Big Boys
I know I’m going to tick off a few of my craft beer loving comrades here but this whole “InBev is the devil” narrative needs to stop. There’s room for everyone in this massive beer landscape. I have just as many Miller Lites in my fridge as I do IPAs. Sometimes I need to slam a beer after working in the yard. And dammit a Miller Lite will get that done for me.
The other reason is it makes you look petty and pretentious. The only thing you are doing is pushing those macro drinkers farther and farther away. And that is your biggest area for market growth. I get it though, to be honest I always think I’m the best podcaster that’s ever lived. But I’m certainly not going to knock the top guys in the industry every chance I get. So instead of mocking the guy ordering a Bud Light at the bar, give him a pull off your craft beer and you just might make a convert, or at the very least pick up his mouth herpes virus.