Good Beer Citizen: Why do so many beer line ups look largely the same? Or, doing your part for craft beer.
While the measures of growth and availability indicate a golden age for small producers of craft beer there is still a long way to go. Are you aware that all craft beer consumed in America, which includes relatively large producers such as Sam Adams and Sierra Nevada (great breweries by the way) only accounts for 7% of total American beer consumption? Not even one of every ten pints is a craft beer.
So what? Good question. While I have nothing in particular against the mega breweries, I do favor small producers and local businesses. I won’t drone on about job creation, community involvement, connection to citizenry and the multitude of other less tangible benefits of local ownership, but I will implore you to consider these points when making your buying decisions.
Now to the point. Why is craft beer at a mere 7% of the market? Well, without getting too in-depth about prohibition, quasi-monopolies, and other clear disadvantages that small producers face, in a word, Choice. It is about the choice of the supply chain, starting with the citizen. If a retailer gets no push back, or sees no loss by choosing cheap faux-craft, cheap domestic or simply limiting craft beer line up because of cost, convenience, relationships, or laziness, the share of the market available to craft will always be a minority.
Really, to the point now, I promise. What should you do if you agree with me? Drink Iron Horse Beer. Or don’t, but don’t walk in to a place, lament the line up of beers, and then plunk down your money. Tell the management their line up sucks (or isn’t to your liking if you are a more classy individual) and you want to see some Northern Lights, Roslyn, Snipes, Yakima Craft, Lost Falls, Ice Harbor, Rattlesnake Hills, Whitstran, Old Schoolhouse, Alpine, Horse Heaven or any other of the more than 1500 craft breweries of the country that are not Eastern Washington breweries. Yeah, that’s right, all of the above are Eastern Washington breweries and I am sure I overlooked a few. At that point if you are feeling like a real badass, after you tell them their line up sucks, walk out. Then do that every week or month, or whatever you are comfortable with. Or if you are not ready for total badass status leave it at that, but tell that retailer every single time you are in there, you want real craft beer and tell them you will stop coming in, even if it is an idle threat.
You know what happens next? The pressure builds, they cave and put on more craft beer, new citizens get exposed to craft beer, more craft beer becomes available at your favorite retailer and next thing we know, fizzy yellow beer is relegated to 7% of the market and we save the economy and the world, or maybe just the working class of America, but hey, that ain’t so bad. Even if the option to choose true craft beer, or the craft beer that you desire is not available to you, let everyone know that you would choose it if you could and your loyalty could be won by some enterprising establishment that chooses to offer you that opportunity. Brewers across the country thank you for your consideration.