I was recently watching a special on CNBC about Costco. I have no business watching CNBC as my money is not tied to the stock market and the only thing of value that I own is a car, but I’m really interested in business for some reason. CNBC does a great job of finding successful businesses and showing the story of how they became successful. I eat this stuff up as someone who wants to open their own brewpub one day. Usually I like seeing how a unique, but good idea can become a great success story, but still have major hurtles to overcome. Call it the American Spirit, but I dig it.
While watching the Costco special they had a 10-15 minute section about wine sold at Costco. Apparently Costco offers around 200 different types of wine at their stores while local liquor stores generally stock 2-3 times that amount. Wine is a big part of their profit margin and makes up about a tenth of their business. The reasoning behind carrying a smaller selection is to not overwhelm the consumer and help them find a solution quickly. It also helps the consumer discover new brands and styles more easily. It’s an interesting take on business that Costco also applies to all of their departments.
It really made me think about the local beer store that I visit. They have an outstanding selection of beer with 400 or so “normal” beers and a rotating seasonal selection of about 50. Some would call me lucky (and believe me I’m lucky), but when I think about it through the Costco lens it doesn’t make sense. How many IPAs does a beer store need to offer to keep people happy? IPAs are particularly bothersome because with more selection comes an increased chance of beer sitting for longer. IPAs lose a lot if they sit unrefrigerated for too long.
As a craft beer nerd I love going into my store and finding new beers to try, but someone new into craft beer may actually be turned off by the intense selection. Now my store is really good about asking if you need help, but I don’t know if that applies everywhere. Surprisingly the demographics of Costco and craft beer drinkers is interchangeable. So that leads to the question is less selection of craft beer a good or bad thing?
Personally, I want more selection as I love having more choice. I think that most craft beer people would agree with me as well. Would you rather have a smaller selection, say 200 different beers, with the promise that they are fresher and better rotated?
If you were not aware, today was the start of American Craft Beer Week. This is the seventh year of the week and there are thousands of events in all 50 states scheduled. Check out CraftBeer.com for all of the events.
Speaking of CraftBeer.com they have a great craft beer quiz to take in celebration of this week. I scored an 80% FYI. Are you doing anything for the week? Personally, I don’t have any big plans but I am hoping to brew at some points. I kind of wish that they week had a bit more of the weekend, i.e Sunday. I know that I have been slacking on review these past two weeks but I will rectify that situation later this week with a bunch of new reviews. Thanks as always for visiting the site and let me know if you have anything fun planned for ACBW.
I found this while browsing the web today and I thought that I should share it. The file size to too big to put on the main page but you can click here to view it.
I’ve explained in the past my views on beer rating and why there is not “rating system” on this site, but I do want to find a better way to review beers and understand them. Why are all IPAs not created equal and what makes one better then another even if they use the same recipe? Some of these questions can be answered through homebrew knowledge but it does lead to an interesting set of research. For the most part most beer reviews follow the path below:
I generally follow this as well with the addition of some background on the brewery and/or beer. I’ve been reading Moneyball recently and it has me thinking about beer. The general preface behind Moneyball is that the “typical” ballplayer may not be the best person for the position and that the scouting system is out of wack. Regardless if you buy into the idea (it’s had mixed results) it takes on an interesting flavor when you look at it through a beer lens.
Out of all of the beer rating sites out there, not one of them can match a beer with another beer that you would also like reliably. There are a number of apps out there at that attempt to do this, but they have mixed results at best. It shouldn’t be terribly hard to come up with some hard stats on beers and find other similar beers that match, but for some reason, no one has done it yet. In Moneyball the author talks about batting average and errors being overrated statistics and that the only thing that really matters in on base percentage. The book argues that you can look at batting average, but you need to get on base in order to score. Some players might not have a great batting average but they get a ton of walks, which raises their on base percentage and therefore value.
What stats do we look at in beer that tell us about the beers we love? And what stats are overrated? We have the basics of ABV (measure of alcohol), IBUs (measure of bitterness), SRM (measure of colors), and others, but which ones really matter? Which ones haven’t we discovered yet?
We need to take a look at how beers are rated and what we are actually rating in order to get a better understanding of what makes a great beer. I can taste a beer and tell you if it is good or not, but I would like to put a bit more “science” into it. If we understood the stats to make a beer great, then we could more easily find similar beers that we like. We could also find deeper connections between beers and find the different pathways through which we discover craft beer. For instance, why do most people dig IPAs right out of the gate? I don’t have any answers to the questions I pose, but I think we should be considering them. Do you have any thoughts on ways to better view beers?
I’m feeling a bit under the weather today but I stumbled across this great interview that made me feel a bit better.