Better Distribution or Better Local Breweries?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by GetMeAnIPA, Apr 22, 2015.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Pooh-Bah (2,473) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Would you rather live an area with great distribution or a place where you have better local beers that aren't distributed? Of course the best answer is both but we can't always get everything.
    WesMantooth and Greywulfken like this.
  2. TMoney2591

    TMoney2591 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,841) Apr 21, 2009 Illinois

    Better locals.
  3. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,210) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I already live in a place with very good-to-great locals, and with decent distro. I'ma go with even more great locals.
  4. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Pooh-Bah (2,473) Mar 28, 2009 California

    That's probably the best scenario. I have some great local breweries but I struggle buying local breweries because they all seem to sell exclusively in bomber format at a premium. I rarely visit bars and breweries so my purchases are made to be consumed at home.
  5. StartedwithSAM

    StartedwithSAM Initiate (0) Feb 17, 2015 Virginia

    Better local(s). I'll pound ground for the hard to gets outside of the distribution that I want if I want them that bad, but locals are a point of pride.
  6. bennetj17

    bennetj17 Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2005 Arizona

    Locals all the way.
  7. knoxbeer

    knoxbeer Initiate (0) Jul 4, 2011 Tennessee

    I'm going to go with everyone else on this one. Better Locals
  8. Monkeyknife

    Monkeyknife Grand Pooh-Bah (4,697) Jan 8, 2007 Missouri
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    A strong local brewing scene is so important to a vibrant beer-drinking community.
  9. rgordon

    rgordon Pooh-Bah (2,605) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I live in an area with great distribution and very good locals that are distributed and self-distributed. I would always be happy for more locals and they are coming along quickly these days.
  10. mwa423

    mwa423 Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2007 Ohio

    Better distribution and I look at it this way: what are the odds the next Russian River or Alchemist will be local to me? Possible, but very unlikely. What are the odds that, if I have great distribution, that I will be able to buy the next great beer locally? A lot better...
    Greywulfken and GetMeAnIPA like this.
  11. DaveAnderson

    DaveAnderson Initiate (0) Jan 11, 2011 Minnesota

    Great local beer everywhere makes travel so much more interesting and leads to more trading.
    JrGtr and GetMeAnIPA like this.
  12. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Definitely would prefer better locals over better distribution. Not even close.
  13. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Freshness trumps most everything else so more and better beer from locals.
  14. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Pooh-Bah (2,473) Mar 28, 2009 California

    Sounds like it's pretty unanimous on local beer. I thought better distro had a chance because it gives people such a better variety. I rarely go to my local breweries, as most of them are too far and bottles are usually $8 for 22ozers.
  15. Ernest_Hooper

    Ernest_Hooper Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2012 Michigan

    I've said it before and it's been said here but locals by a mile. It's actually a pet peeve of mine to hear people complain about the freshness of beer that came to their store from across the country.

    Although now we are seeing the distribution of breweries as they open new locations. So breweries that can afford it are localizing themselves. I have to admit I never saw that coming.
  16. BrownAleBollocks

    BrownAleBollocks Initiate (0) Nov 18, 2014 Kansas

    Better distribution. More locals would be fine, but their beers are not always the best or even good at all (some are of course), so I vote for more of the known commodity.
    TongoRad and Greywulfken like this.
  17. maxifunk777

    maxifunk777 Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2015 California

    Both, but with the increasing cost of hops will make larger production impossible for many breweries thus less beer for sale outside their normal market.
  18. Blueapollo420

    Blueapollo420 Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2014 Vermont

    I live in southern Vermont so my vote is for better distribution of my local breweries.
  19. charlzm

    charlzm Initiate (0) Sep 3, 2007 California

    Why settle for one? I just want to go to a store and have awesome beers available for purchase that aren't expired. I don't care where they were brewed.
    IPAGeorge likes this.
  20. chris826

    chris826 Savant (1,081) Sep 24, 2014 Mississippi

    Mississippi has great local breweries nearby but misses out on a ton of the great distributions. You name it we don't get it, so I vote for better distribution.
  21. Ranbot

    Ranbot Pooh-Bah (2,327) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Unless you buy from the brewery, it's not always a guarantee for freshness... I often see fresher beer on shelves from breweries on the other side continent than breweries located in my area code. I know @yemenmocha complains a lot about this in his area too.

    From my experience living in an area with great distribution (Philly), I think the competition from abroad forces the local brewers to stay on their toes. Local breweries have many potential tools available to them to entice customers, many of which are unavailable to out-of-state brewers, so locals should have the advantage. For example, on premise brewery sales, specializing in specific styles, special releases/events, unique ingredients, a great brew pub destination, brewery tours, community outreach, etc... but I expect my locals to use those tools and not just sit back and rely on local goodwill. Competition is good for everyone. The rising tide that raises all ships...

    So put me down for great distribution.

    (@GetMeAnIPA This should have been a poll! :wink: )
    IPAGeorge, TongoRad and GetMeAnIPA like this.
  22. Greywulfken

    Greywulfken Grand Pooh-Bah (5,669) Aug 25, 2010 New York
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Uh, I'll take the distribution.

    I mean, unless, you're telling me that my local brewery is on par with all the very best breweries out there.
    TongoRad and GetMeAnIPA like this.
  23. RockAZ

    RockAZ Pundit (983) Jan 6, 2009 Arizona

    Fresh is better, so every increase in local quality keeps more of my money in town.
    drtth likes this.
  24. mstrcrwly

    mstrcrwly Pundit (888) Dec 21, 2013 New York

    Here in NYC and Long Island there are lots of good local breweries..but a lot of Midwestern,Southwestern,Northwestern doesn't get distributed that's only reason I'd go with more distribution..I'd much rather support local breweries as long as their product is good.
  25. MarshallBirdhouse

    MarshallBirdhouse Initiate (0) Feb 19, 2013 Kentucky

    I just want access to Firestone Walker.
    GetMeAnIPA likes this.
  26. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Grand Pooh-Bah (4,030) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    I think you're right on the mark about freshness. Local does not automatically equal fresh when it comes to store shelves.

    Put me down for great distribution too.

    Of course I want both. Who doesn't?

    What's happening sometimes, though, is that if you truly had an EITHER/OR situation in the past then you could avoid the local brewpubs and just hit beer bars for all the great non-local. But the trend I'm seeing is the buy local mentality creep onto the tap handles at beer bars too, so this or that top tier IPA is now being replaced by some rather mediocre IPA that happens to be local (judging by BA scores and such, not just my opinion). Again, this is the EITHER/OR metros and the like. If you're in California, Colorado, Pacific NW and other places then none of this is really an issue. They have it all.

    This is another reason why this isn't some petty complaint, and why it is naive to say things along the lines of don't worry what other people drink. No... it does matter, because it can lead to changes in choices for all of us. Some staff have told me quite a few of the local ones don't sell that well compared to the better out of state breweries, but there's a vocal subset of the customer base that gets pissy and complains about the lack of locals on tap.
    #26 yemenmocha, Apr 23, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
    Greywulfken likes this.
  27. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Sure enough, which is one good reason why the choice posed by the OP is not particularly desirable as an either or choice. Great distribution can still bring us older beers and might also contribute to slowing or inhibiting the development of the quality of local breweries when people insist on only drinking world class beers without some support for locals that are growing and in the process of improving their offerings.

    Being in SEPA I too have seen more than one or two distributorships with old and even out of code beer on their shelves but it’s typically a pretty even mix of local and national usually. That's why I have adopted the practices of a) only buying dated beer, so if what I find is old, I go somewhere else; b) being flexible when I go shopping so when I may have one case of beer in mind when I start but then swop that off my list because its not available fresh and substitute something else that is fresh; and c) drinking lots of seasonal releases which I know are fresh (e.g., I usually have my Nugget Nectar within 5-10 days of bottling, etc). Also, I've got one local retail distributor from whom I order a lot of stuff. He knows I want fresh and he's told me more than once he wasn't able to order what I wanted because he couldn't find it fresh. Also he helps me pin down things like when certain beers are expected to be available since brewery reps sometimes have information more current than web sites.

    So my preferred situation is to have the best of both good distribution (which we have) and of good local breweries (which we have).
    #27 drtth, Apr 23, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
  28. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Based on my personal experiences here in SE PA this is an area that can be added to your list of places where its not an issue. I'd have trouble naming a place where "local" automatically trumps "quality."
  29. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Grand Pooh-Bah (4,030) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    There's a long list of great beer areas. I was just naming a few.

    It's not a strange phenomenon. The homerism terminology (I think) comes from sports teams. You see this all the time with a vocal subset of fans who are not only avid supporters, but perhaps a bit... inaccurate... about how good their team is compared to the others. Then there are extreme cases like some folks I know who are Cubs fans. Some cities have beer fans that have a lot in common with them. Sometimes it's innocent and perhaps admirable. Other times you wonder.
  30. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The thing I find encouraging since I began watching the beer scene more closely the last 7-8 years is that the list of places is growing, so I think there is hope for continuing growth in the long term. Once upon a time (several years back) someone asked me where I went to drink beer (they meant which local bar). Without giving it any deliberate thought I replied "England." And realized it was true. I hadn't had a beer in the US for well over 10 years when they asked me that question. However, that's not been the case the last 8 years or so (since I first discovered Troeg's and the changes that had taken place in the US beer landscape without my noticing). Now if I want to easily find something on cask I might need to wait till a trip to the UK, but even properly done beer on cask shows up around here.
    #30 drtth, Apr 23, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
    yemenmocha likes this.
  31. mudbug

    mudbug Initiate (0) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    yemenmocha said,"If you're in California, Colorado, Pacific NW and other places then none of this is really an issue. They have it all."
    Not necessarily true. I live on the beach in central Oregon. If I want to get a good selection equal to Portland or the I 5 corridor I have to travel 50 miles inland to get it. Hell, we don't even get Hop Hunter out here.
  32. CMB2012

    CMB2012 Initiate (0) Nov 26, 2008 Colorado

    The best of both is what we all want and yes it is far from reality now. I live in one of the best cities for distribution from both coasts and have great local breweries, but the scene is far from ideal. As much as there are exceptions in each category, I argue we (as lovers of beer) are obliged to make informed decisions that will lead to both great distribution and great local beer by our actions in product purchasing. We have a long way to get there and need some time to pave the road of accessibility, however we can create a beer market that we desire by supporting good producers. Yes to distribution and yes to local breweries, but most of all yes to developing them both.
    IPAGeorge likes this.
  33. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Grand Pooh-Bah (4,030) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Well, often local is equated with being within one's state. So yes, you're right if you take it in the way you did.
    mudbug and drtth like this.
  34. SFNC

    SFNC Savant (1,073) Apr 7, 2013 North Carolina

    I want to have my cake and eat it too. Both!
    yemenmocha likes this.
  35. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    My suspicion is that you're not native to a western state. :-)

    I've known people who would think nothing of driving 400-500 miles one way to a University of Colorado football game because it was their local college team... :grinning:
    yemenmocha likes this.
  36. RLM15

    RLM15 Initiate (0) Dec 12, 2013 California

    Drink local!!
  37. PA-Michigander

    PA-Michigander Grand Pooh-Bah (3,248) Nov 10, 2013 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I would take a slightly above average really local beer over an above average one made across the country. Of course it's taken me 98 trades to figure it out, or maybe just having Pizza Boy in my backyard did it.
    IPAGeorge likes this.
  38. Das_Reh

    Das_Reh Initiate (0) Mar 25, 2013 Florida

    Better locals. I live in NW Florida, so we -do- get CCB which is fantastic, but the only other local breweries I ever see are Pensacola Brewing Co. and Grayton Brewing, both of which are pretty mediocre IMO.
  39. draheim

    draheim Grand Pooh-Bah (3,979) Sep 18, 2010 Washington

    Somehow all I heard was

    OP, for me I'll take better locals too, but yes I still want great and always improving distribution too. Especially imports. In some places you truly can have it all.
    GetMeAnIPA and mudbug like this.
  40. zid

    zid Grand Pooh-Bah (3,036) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader


    In my area, I regard drinking local as more of a draught experience than a bottled one... and I've recently decreased the amount of beer I have on draught vs from a bottle at home. The one thing that makes me second guess my choice is that greater distribution basically amounts to more product crowding up the shelves.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.