I remember the day I found out my favorite local beer wasn’t going to be made anymore.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t find the beer anywhere I went. Tap handles seemed to pop-up everywhere. There were frequent pint nights and it was on tap at the brewery nearly every week and, of course, at all of my favorite spots. The sixteen-ounce cans of the delicious brew even showed up at random liquor stores that I went into in random parts of the city, where it was normally a “craft beer wasteland.” Everything seemed to be exactly as you’d expect for a beer that I perceived to popular..
Except, as I know now, it wasn’t.
Seeing a beer or brewery everywhere doesn’t mean it’s selling well. In fact, it doesn’t even mean the beer is good, although I’ll argue with you that my former favorite brew was awesome, hashtag ar eye pea. (#RIP)
In the case of the beer that I love(d), it could be argued that it could have suffered from a variety of problems circle around the fact it wasn’t an IPA or rare enough. But that probably wasn’t it. It might a consideration that perhaps the container / tap handle design just didn’t stand out to people. Well, actually I bet it was that, either.
The reality in which I was coming to grips with is this, simply: that it wasn’t selling enough, which may or may not be a result of anything to do with the beer, branding, sales or any person related to the brewery it was produced at.
It just wasn’t selling enough. Even if it checked all of the boxes, it just wasn’t happening.
Having been around the business of beer for a while (outside looking in), it’s hard to come to resolve the fact that sometimes things like this happen because of business reasons. The beer business isn’t as simple as it was a few years ago when there was only 2000 breweries in the country.
This is not just the fact there is more breweries out there. Making good beer simply isn’t good enough anymore; rarity has become the zeitgeist of today’s beer fans and it’s spreading across the American beer scene. It’s not the factor that many beers aren’t selling, but it can be argued it is a factor. You may still walk through the local beer shop and pick up a Great Divide Yeti Stout*, because it’s one of the best ones out there, but people are still going to clammer for the next Jester King Atrial Rubicite release or stand fly into Munster, Indiana for the 3 Floyds Dark Lord Day, over something they’ve had once or twice before. For some it’s simply chasing that next release, for others, like myself, it is/was because I thought that beer I liked would always be there.
But let’s not start pointing fingers, really no one is at fault. Not even ourselves.
“It had to be those beer fans fault,” I thought to myself. “They can’t even bring themselves to pick up a six-pack on the regular because their beer fridge is too full of tradable or rare beer!”
No, no, no.
I realized something.
In my full-size-completely-dedicated-to-beer refrigerator there was a six-pack of my favorite beer I’d bought some months back, but it was the first I’d bought in a while.
My fridge wasn’t full of my favorite beer. It was just 3 extra cans leftover from the pack.
Suddenly, I learned a lesson in supply and demand and it taught me that we each have a choice every time walk into the store, bar, or restaurant. That choice is quite simple and it is also quite powerful.
Luckily, there is plenty out there and the field is prime for the picking. I may miss my favorite beer, but there is plenty more where that came from. And that choice is a great thing to celebrate.
What’s next, chief?
*This isn’t to say people aren’t buying Great Divide Yeti, my point is that people are grabbing the latest and greatest first and seem to be spending their money on stuff that’s already around if they have any budget left over. Largely, with the amount of breweries around, people are finding it pretty easy to make a beer run and buy only beer they’ve never had before, or are rare. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can become a problem. Remember, buy good beer, and local if you can.