Because of immense growth in the number of breweries across the country, the idea of “world domination” may not necessarily be a reality any more. Domination, like many start-ups’ distribution network, can be accomplished in a city, town, state or region.
Is it realistic for any new brewery to become the next Sierra Nevada or New Belgium these days? More importantly – does that matter?
One of the great things about our craft beer boom is that as breweries start small, many are staying “small.” Or, at least, staying committed to their hometown audience.
That’s good because in recent years, consumer behavior has shifted toward the “buy local” movement, especially those that emphasize the ideals and practices of “local” or “community” within their business. Essentially, if a business is good to its local, loyal customers, they’ll be loyal right back.
“From a business standpoint, local consumers are a huge component of a brewery’s fan base, and in many cases their bottom line,” said David Ackley, founder of the Local Beer Blog. “A brewery taproom offers a significant profit margin that can be especially useful, if not critical, to smaller breweries just getting off the ground. The local fans are also usually the first to spread the word about a new beer release or a special event, either over social media or by word of mouth.”
Local, dedicated business is important – no doubt – so what is it exactly that makes people think “local” when it comes to their beer?
There are varying opinions on what “local” means when it comes to food. One survey highlighted a 50-mile radius from consumers while another was as high as 100 miles. Of course, some respondents in both surveys thought anything created within our country’s borders could be considered local.
However, us beer lovers have it good – a majority of Americans live within 10 miles of a brewery. Now that’s local.
This is important because this close proximity ideally creates stronger feelings of community. In recent years, that’s equaled sales for breweries. For local microbreweries to become regional, they need to increase sales, something that 94 percent of “regional” breweries did in 2010.
The “little” guys are doing well, so it’s only natural we’d have a party crasher.
Budweiser is now billing itself as “America’s Largest Local Brewer” because, you know, they’ve got a dozen production facilities across the United States. Just like every other local brewer.
You can even join the “Track Your Bud” campaign and plug in each bottle’s tracking information to find where it came from, the brewmaster who made it, the beer’s ingredients and more.
The ironic part of Budweiser’s attempt at showing it’s “local” roots is it opens this commercial with the question, “Do you know where your beer is brewed?” For millions of Americans, that answer is quickly becoming a resounding “yes,” but not in the way Budweiser wants it. It’s about those person-to-person connections you won’t get from smiling faces on the TV.
“It’s just cool to be able to go down the street to the local brewpub, see the equipment and talk to the people who make the beer,” Ackley said. “In that sense, local beer is part of the overall movement towards local food, towards people wanting to learn about where their food comes from the people who produce it.”
That’s the local I want.