I was at the Total Wine in Boca Raton last night for the wonderful fundraiser that I was advertising last night and I got to thinking. I thought about a subject that some of my friends and I have talked about before. It’s sort of a controversial topic because it seems to really get some peoples’ juices flowing. And that is what I hope by this article. I want to hear all of your thoughts on this. And the topic is pretty much are big stores good for craft beer?
Now and days you can go to a lot of large name liquor or grocery stores and find craft beer. You have your Total Wines, BevMo, Publix, Whole Foods, Wegmans. The list goes on really. But some people think that this large expansion and spot light for craft beer isn’t good. The main argument I always hear is that they put small beer stores out of business. While I won’t say that has never happened I think it happens far less then some may think.
I know many in South Florida were upset when Case and Keg in Boca closed down at the end of 2009. Many pointed blame directly at Total Wine in the same city. People went even as far as calling Total Wine the “Walmart” of alcohol. I think that is just absolute horseshit (yes I said it). For the sake of not getting to in depth with my hatred for Walmart you just have to realize based on business ethics they are no where close to the same. And calling them that is insulting to every man and woman that works for Total Wine.
People say that Total Wine doesn’t care about beer and is just trying to monetize a big movement for craft beer. I can name a good amount of people that work for Total Wine locally and on the corporate level that care about beer. I had the pleasure of meeting Greg Tuttle from the corporate offices of Total Wine a few months back and the man loves craft beer. This is also the same company that gave me free tickets to a Total Wine beer class to give out to my fans. Yes a small little beer blog like me received notice from a company that “doesn’t care about beer.”
And saying they are monetizing the craft beer movement? Um yeah so is any number of bars and small beer stores as well. What better job to have then make money doing something you love, like work in the beer industry.
Lastly one really big thing that I don’t think people realize is that if it weren’t for these big stores coming in and wanting to carry craft beer then the distributors wouldn’t be making as much money. And if they aren’t making money then they can’t try to bring in new brewers to the area. And a lack of new brews makes beer lovers sad.
In the past 12 months the always amazing folks at Fresh Beer have brought South Florida Victory, Southern Tier, Cigar City, Jolly Pumpkin, Summit, The Bruery, Magic Hat, Mikkeller, Nogne O, Shiner along with bringing Flying Dog and Terrapin back to the market after absences. And a lot of that probably wouldn’t have been possible if some bigger stores weren’t around and giving more people the opportunity to buy craft beer.
Plus I thought the craft beer community was about that, community. Bringing people together through beer. And the way of doing that is by giving people more of a chance to get their hands on craft beer. I love the fact that I see Dogfish Head and Rogue in my local Publix now. It’s awesome to see a great selection of beer in Whole Foods. Some Winn Dixie stores down here are even starting to carry craft beer. It’s growing and it needs to be in the masses.
So in conclusion while small stores like BX Beer Depot here are really great that they are small, independently owned places that love their beer I think that your big places having craft beer are great too. It is easier for a casual drinker to get hooked there. I don’t want to see people go out of business at all. Especially those that fight the good fight but I don’t think it is right to blame a bigger store that very well may have the same intentions of expanding craft beer.
What are your thoughts on this?