I received a request from Anthony Simone (
@erroneousrex) , a grad school student in New York that is doing research on Craft Beer Marketing. He sent me a survey and asked that I respond to it. You will find my answers below. You may not agree with me—That’s okay with me. If you have an opinion you should answer them and email (details below) your response back to him. Words I live by:
“The World is Run by Those Who Show Up!”
Do you believe it is important to use local ingredients in beer production and why/why not? –
I do not think it is completely feasible for all beer to be brewed with local ingredients but I really respect breweries that release specialty beers that do use seasonal, local ingredients. I believe there are more and more craft breweries that are focused on utilizing local products. Many breweries are growing their own hops now and some are and using local fruit. Cascade Brewing makes some amazing barrel-aged sour beers using fruit from Oregon. Logsdon is a co-op that is growing some of the ingredients they use.
I think you will find that many craft breweries promote the pairing of their beer with locally sourced food. I would guess a large percentage of Craft Beer drinkers trend toward Farmer’s Markets, humanely raised meat and organic ingredients. Breweries like Bison Brewing help people associate the source of ingredients to the food they eat and the beer they drink.
If you do believe it is important to use local ingredients there is an instance where they would be more expensive to acquire do you believe the ethical choice of “buying local” would trump the financial decision?
I can only speak for myself but I think there are many people that feel the way I do. I will absolutely pay more to support local products. I buy 80+% of my food from local sources. With regard to beer, I support my local breweries but I am also a “beer traveler” that visits other great beer cities and brings home beer to share. I support “craft” and appreciate well-made beer from all over the country. I love to ship my local favorites to people in other places as well.
There are over 40 hop varieties in America alone not to mention multiple varieties of barley malts. Do you believe the average drinker of even high-quality craft beers can actually tell the difference between these different varieties? Do you believe it is necessary or productive to mention esoteric ingredients in a craft beer’s marketing?
I do believe people with refined palates can differentiate the more prominent hop varietals. It is no different that people with a strong palate for wine varietals. I don’t think the average person can articulate what they taste without reference points made in beer descriptives (is this a word?), but the more they sample and identify with, the more they can ell the difference between the major varietals. I think it is great when breweries call out specific ingredients because it teaches people to differentiate. The wine industry has been doing this with grapes forever. Beer is far more complex in my humble opinion. A newbie can read a label and correlate the ingredients with what they taste.
There is a perception of elitism in craft/micro-brew beer marketing and culture. Do you believe this might have the negative effect of turning off potential craft beer newbie’s? Or would you even consider this a “negative” effect?
Absolutely not! I think Craft Beer marketing actually encourages newbie’s because geeks, and socially awkward people are the poster children for Craft Beer. Look at Greg Koch from Stone Brewing. He is a brilliant public speaker but he is not a social butterfly when in a one-on-one situation. When he is on stage talking about his passion for beer – He lights up a room. People can identify with his passion. One of the beautiful things about craft beer is that it embraces the hipsters, geeks, brainiacs and yes, even the #pretty people. Craft welcomes anyone that has an appreciation for the road less traveled. Young and old come together to share an appreciation for craft.
I do believe the beer reviews and forums on Beer Advocate can intimidate people but truthfully, the few “doucebags” that talk smack on BA are a source of entertainment for many people and there are heaps of great reviews to be found there as well. I support anyone wanting to learn about craft beer and I will go out of my way to help people learn. I am not alone in this thinking. Craft Beer is an “equal opportunity” product. It does not discriminate. There is no wrong or right. Your taste is exactly that…it’s your taste. True craft beer lovers champion individual taste and they do not criticize people for having a different opinion. How I wish this would translate to other aspects of life…
There is a perception that mega-brewers are selling a lifestyle while craft and microbrewers are selling an authentic and quality product. However as craft and micro-brews are sold using contemporary marketing techniques one could say they are also selling a lifestyle and in a sense “selling authenticity.” Would you agree with this? Do you believe that the average craft/micro-brew consumer is savvy enough to realize this but consciously “buys into” the message?
I think macro-beer is selling alcohol above all else. They market to people that don’t care about quality or “craft” – They care about calories, price and being able to drink massive quantities before they toss their cookies in the toilet. Craft Beer tends to market ethics, flavor, social responsibility and the beautiful interaction with food. Just look at the growth of the Craft Brewing segment. It out-paces macro consistently. People in this country are finally waking up! They are more educated about quality, ethics and sourcing in food as well as alcohol. They understand the value of supporting local food, beer and businesses in general. Everyone has the ability to vote with his or her wallet and I believe the number of people choosing “craft” everything will continue to grow. Food, clothing, alcohol, etc…all represent making better choices. People that are independent thinkers grasp the importance of supporting local products. The masses will follow the early-adopters. It is just a matter of time.
Beer is not food but an alcoholic beverage. However, craft/micro-brewed beer marketing and culture tend to treat it like a fine food, something almost on par with artisanal cheese or caviar. Do you believe it is the responsibility of craft/micro-brewed beer producers and promoters to impress upon consumers the fact that beer is an alcoholic beverage and not food apart from the obligatory government warnings?
I do not believe brewers should have to answer to stupidity. People that cannot differentiate between food and alcohol have much bigger issues. We do not need any more government regulation. We need more individual responsibility. People need to take responsibility for their own actions. Drinking alcohol should be done in moderation, regardless of the beverage. Craft breweries advocate for this. They preach quality over quantity. This is the key. I do not drink to get drunk. I drink to experience the flavor and the interaction of the beer with the food I eat. I truly appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go into Craft Beer and I respect the people that risked it all to bring their beer to market. Capitalism at work…
Help Anthony Simone(design grad in NY doing masters on craft beer marketing. with his research)…Answer the questions above and email to him at:
Grad student at the Pratt Institute working on a Masters in Communications Design. I like water, malted barley and hops (preferably together).
New York City
Forgive my spelling, grammar, etc…Happy to answer any questions you have!