American Craft Beer Tug-O-War Part 2

By scot in Beer, Lounge on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

I recently mentioned the tug-o-war that is going on in American craft beer at the end of the line: people buying the beer. This time around it is time for a bit on the retailers. It might not be a perfect assessment of the situation but at least it is my perceived notion.

There are two major areas that I am aware of to this point:

  1. Larger retailers (chains) getting clout over the one-off mom-and-pop shops.
  2. Price gouging.

There is a chain in my area that gets every release but there are many releases that they corner the market. I have heard from someone that used to work there that they actually put pressure on the distributor, because they move so much product, to only sell certain short releases to them. This kills the fair market. This chain is usually higher on beer prices than other beer stores; strike one. This cornering of the market creates an unfair advantage for the store as customers will look to them for not only the rare beer but start using them for more of their needs; strike two. Usually the head beer guy at the store will promise people the beer, they won’t even put it on the shelves, limiting those who have exposure to the beer; strike three.

Don’t be niave to think that similar activities aren’t happening in your own area. I stay away from this liquor chain at all costs. I am too the point that certain releases are ridiculously difficult to get to begin with so why bother.

Price gouging is a shorter but sicker story. This practice centers on short releases, of course, and the price jumped up $5, $10, or more over the normal retail price. I think this is more in smaller shops (they aren’t saints either) as they are more aware of the happenings on the gray market of reselling beers for ridiculous amount. It is awesome how it is all related. I don’t know what is worse, the retailer raising prices and/or people paying the prices.

Both of these point are troubling to me. I like the small stores as they are more customer oriented rather than bottom line. They get to know you and you know the people will be there for a long time. There will be more goofiness coming, I just hope it doesn’t drive me to drink. Enjoy!

Useless Fact: A grasshopper can leap over obstacles 500 times its own height. In relation to its size it has the greatest jumping ability of all creatures.


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