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.
A little under two years ago I wrote about some trends in craft beer that I was noticing. You can read the full thing here, but the skinny of it is that oak aged and sour beers were making a mark in the craft beer world. I still think that the trend that I talked about then is true now, but there seems to be a bigger emphasis on “big” beers and frankly, I’m tired of it.
I do dig the occasional bourbon aged imperial stout, but they are becoming a dime a dozen. They aren’t special anymore and they ones that I have had range from decent to poor. Consumers seem to be getting caught up in these “special” release beers and I’m not sure that it is having a positive effect on the craft beer industry. I’ve fallen victim to this type of ploy as well, but I’m learning to shy away from it.
How many 10% bourbon aged imperial stouts can one drink and how different can they all really be? I’m getting tired of big and bold, I would prefer smaller beers with more delicate flavors. There is something to be said for a solid 5% beer. I think it shows a level of skill in brewing that a 10% stout just doesn’t showcase. As any homebrewer which style of beer is easiest to make consistently. I bet stout would be the number one answer.
Hopefully this trend starts to calm down and we can return to more “normal” beers. There is still plenty of room for experimentation, but the bourbon and barrel aging has run its course. Am I alone in this?
On of my favorite beer blogs to read for interesting insights, The Mad Fermentationist, recently posted a pretty good rant about craft beer bottle sizes. You can read the full rant here, but a snapshot of the rant reveals two things:
- Why do craft breweries insist on putting big beers in large bottles?
- Why do large bottle cost more per oz than a smaller bottle? Shouldn’t be less?
I think The Mad Fermentationist did a great job at looking at the second point closely, but the first point really irks me with craft beer. It annoys me greatly that a lot of the wonderful big beers that can be had only come in 22 oz or 750 ml bottles. I don’t understand the idea of making big bottles of big beer. Shouldn’t higher ABV’s push the size of the bottle down not up?
I find it irresponsible to a point to put the high alcohol beers in larger volume containers. Beer isn’t like wine, it can’t stay fresh once opened. When you commit to opening a big bottle, you commit to drinking the whole thing. I’m not generally one who has a bunch of people over to share bottles with, when I drink, I do it at home with my wife and my dog. My wife isn’t a huge fan of big beers so it usually is up to me to knock out the large majority of a bottle of beer. There are times when a giant bottle of beer is just too much, but I can’t justify pouring some out or letting it go flat. I paid for the beer, I’m going to drink it.
Judging by the responses to the original post, I’m not alone in my thoughts. In some cases, I would actually be happy getting a 7 oz “pony” of a big beer than even a 12 oz bottle. In the homebrew world, big beers equal more production costs. I would be fine with paying 12 oz bottle prices for a 7 oz bottle of big beer. I doubt this would ever happen (with the exception of Rogue Ales who does a number of beers in 7 oz bottles) but I would love to see this come about.
While I know I’m not alone in my thoughts, am I being too picky or do I (we) have a legitimate grip here?
Did you know that today is the International IPA Day? I wasn’t aware of this until a few days ago, but I’m glad I have an excuse to drink some IPA. From the site “hosting” this event:
Greetings Craft Beer Drinkers! Welcome to International #IPADay — the world’s largest celebration of craft beer.
International #IPADay is a grassroots movement created to unite the voices of craft beer enthusiasts, bloggers, and brewers worldwide, using social media as the common arena for connecting the conversation together.
On Thursday August 4th, craft beer drinkers across the social sphere and across the globe will raise pints in a collective toast to one of craft beer’s most iconic styles: the India Pale Ale. This celebrated style represents the pinnacle of brewing innovation with its broad spectrum of diverse brands, subcategories, and regional flavor variations – making it the perfect style to galvanize the craft beer’s social voice.
To participate, share your photos, videos, blog posts, tasting notes, recipes, thoughts with the world on Twitter Facebook, YouTube, WordPress, RateBeer, Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Untappd or any other social media platforms you may use. Use the hastag #IPADay in all of your posts and then see what others are saying by searching the hashtag on google, twitter or other social media resources.
What IPA will you be drinking today?