To Merlot or Not to Merlot..that seems to be the question according to Lost Abbey Brewing’s Tomme Arthur that is dogging the craft beer business. This Press Panel discussion lead by JT Smith of Flying Dog Brewery covered what motivates the craft beer industry to grow and yet stay small at the same time. In Tomme’s comparison of beer to Merlot, his concern that craft beer had to avoid becoming generic like the consumer readiness to focus on specific wine varietals and price points to the detriment of the character of the product.
I attended “The American Craft Beer Revolution” panel discussion held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Friday, June 3rd in order to learn more about the American craft brew story. The panelists included Paul Gatza (Brewers Association), Tomme Arthur (The Lost Abbey), Jim Caruso (Flying Dog Brewery), Sam Calagione (Dogfish Head Craft Brewery), Rick Kempen (Bier & cO), Ken Grossman (Sierra Nevada Brewing Company), & J.T. Smith (Flying Dog Brewery). As the organizer of the Mid-Atlantic Craft Brew Festival – MAC Brew Fest my interest in craft beer has grown with the production of the event. Even though MAC Brew Fest won’t be held until the Fall (October 15th, 2011) I wanted to better understand the major players in the industry.
This video interview relates to the issue that all small craft beer producers are currently experiencing: fast sales growth with the ever-present nagging of bottom-line company concerns. If your market is growing at 60% a year, but you can only produce 20% more per year, what’s a craft beer producer to do? As Sam Calagione of Dogfish mentions, sometimes the best decision is to grow slow and re-focus marketing and distribution efforts in attainable markets. If you bite off more than you can chew, you could end up swallowing big debt, production problems and frankly some pretty watery brew!
Charlie “I Drink on the Job” Adler
Categories: beer festivals, Charlie Adler, Craft Beer
Tagged: beer business, Bier & cO, Brewers Association, Charlie Adler, craft beer, D.C., Dogfish Head, Flying Dog Brewery, I Drink on the Job, idrinkonthejob, J.T. Smith, Jim Caruso, Ken Grossman, MAC Brew Fest, Merlot, National Press Club, Rick Kempen, Sam Calagione, Savor, Savor 2011, Sierra Nevada, The Lost Abbey, Tomme Arthur, washington