How long do you give a new brewery to get their act together before you write them off?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Hanzo, Feb 21, 2013.

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  1. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    A new brewery opened recently near me, and while I like a couple of their beers well enough you can tell they are very green and only brewing run of the mill "safe" beers, but because of this they are getting overlooked locally because of all the great beers we have access to.

    So the question is, how long (if at all) do you support a new brewery before you realize they aren't going to think outside the box and they are just going to keep cranking out mediocre beer?
  2. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    No reason that a "write off" needs to be permanent. If you don't like what they're making now, drink other things for a while (as you noted, there plenty of other options), then come back and try one of their new products in 6 months or a year.

    Either they will hit a target audience with whatever they're making, or adjust their products to find a target audience, or *poof*, building for lease.
    GRG1313, Vonerichs, jglowe77 and 3 others like this.
  3. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    I guess what I meant was, in order for the place to grow it still needs to be supported, meaning people will have to buy the current beer they are producing in pretty large quantities to allow them to stretch their legs in the future. I'm not suggesting people buy beer they don't like, but if it was just meh would you still buy it almost as if you were investing in the future of that brewery....

    I don't know if that makes any sense.
    Ernest_Hooper likes this.
  4. FlakyBiscuit

    FlakyBiscuit Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Abita sure has hung around a long time:slight_frown:
  5. JoEBoBpr

    JoEBoBpr Initiate (0) Feb 26, 2004 Missouri

    Here in St. Louis we've had about 4 or so breweries open up within the last 1 year. They are all very active within the local craft beer community and reach out to other establishments (i.e. restaruatns) and to each other. For this reason they seem to be doing really well and people support them.

    With that said all of them brew pretty good to great beers but there is always some duds when making beers. Its just the bussiness. Some things shine and others flop. So I woudlnt necesariily write a brewery off because they arent taking risks.

    One of the breweries that opened here is specifically intersted in brewing classical low ABV styles (inside of the box). If they stick to this they might not blow the doors of the craft beer world but they keep the locals happy with tasty beer that is drinkable.

    Just some thoughts.

  6. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (740) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    Tough question. If the beer is well made, but not exciting, I might have a glass with dinner. If the beer is flawed, I'm going to ask for samples at the bar before purchasing again.
  7. fishtremble

    fishtremble Initiate (183) Jan 18, 2010 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Great question Hanzo I guess I'm the elephant that never forgets. Typically if I find a brewery that does not put out anything at least average they more likely than not will never get a revisit from me. I think someone would have to show up at my house and pretty much prove to me that the said brewery has turned it around for me to ever dare support them again with my money when I have so many choices around me these days. Of course this site also helps for me to gauge if a brewery has started turning it around so if I started to hear talk about beer x being great by a brewery that I didn't use to care for I might be prone to take another shot at it.
  8. HappyHourHero

    HappyHourHero Initiate (0) Jul 8, 2003 Indiana

    I enjoy unique and one-off beers and I would support experimentation. If they are screwing up standard beers I would go back a few times over the first year to see if they are making progress. I would stop wasting my money on beer I don't like at some point, and if they're still around in a couple years and I start hearing good things I'd go back.
  9. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    One man's "safe" beer is another mans "well crafted, balanced, drinkable, drink a case a week" beer and become loyal repeat customers.

    I don't care if a brewery thinks outside the box. I would much rather them give me the best inside the box beer ever made at an affordable price.

    Way too much mediocrity results from the plethora of breweries thinking outside the box. Also many breweries' best sellers are beers people here would consider safe/boring/mediocre.
  10. LCB_Hostage

    LCB_Hostage Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2013 Pennsylvania

    I'd suggest trying to get in and meet the brewmaster and any other principals in the business and feel them out about what their ambitions are. If it sounds like they're making safe beers to build some capitol but they really can't wait to start getting more experimental, then I'd be inclined to give them some business. I might even talk them up to some semi-craft drinkers (people who want to drink a little better than AMC, but aren't really into true craft beers) since it sounds like this is about the right market for them right now. If, on the other hand, they start talking about how they're all about getting "big" and you don't hear anything about trying to get "better," then I'd put my money elsewhere.
  11. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I hate to the guy that says, "end thread", but end thread.
    beerinmaine likes this.
  12. kmello69

    kmello69 Defender (618) Nov 27, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    I dont think a brewery should go to market with their product unless its at least "pleasant" (couldnt quite figure out which work I wanted to use there....). If they're rushed a mediocre product to market, then they're just out for my $, which they won't be seeing any more of (I'm looking at you, South Austin Brewing).

    There's a local brewery here in Austin, called Hops & Grain, that cans only 2 beers, and uses that money to fund them brewing other really experimental stuff only available in their taproom. But those 2 beers are both EXCELLENT, so they make money on them, thus allowing them to experiment and grow. Thats how it should be done.
    MostlyNorwegian likes this.
  13. darknova306

    darknova306 Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2005 New York

    I've seen a lot small breweries open up in my state that brew a very uninteresting lineup of very uninteresting versions of safe beers. I'll always try a new brewery when I find one, but I'm not going to pay money for beer I don't like.

    There are a lot of mediocre craft breweries out there. If you don't like the beer, don't pay for it. Don't force yourself to support a local business just because it's local if you don't like the product. And don't feel guilty for not spending money on a product that doesn't provide you value. Vote with your dollar, essentially. If a brewery starts losing money with their 'safe' lineup, they'll either go out of business or step their game up. Either way, the consumer wins.
  14. Oxymoron

    Oxymoron Meyvn (1,471) Aug 14, 2005 Colorado

    6 months. It takes awhile to figure out your equipment.
    Domingo likes this.
  15. BeerMeInStl

    BeerMeInStl Aspirant (203) Jan 26, 2013 Missouri

    I'm in St Louis and I have yet to find a locally brewed beer that I thought was anything special. There's some decent stuff but I haven't found anything yet that I would specifically go looking for. I have not tried the Schlafly TIPA or AIPA though. I usually avoid Schlafly because everything that I've bought by them in the past has been nothing more than average at best.

    Hopefully the new breweries can continue to improve and I'll have a local brewery that I can really get behind.
    dt_gbpackersfan likes this.
  16. JoEBoBpr

    JoEBoBpr Initiate (0) Feb 26, 2004 Missouri

    Fair enough. I mean, taste is subjective. I hope you find what you are looking for.
  17. mrelizabeth

    mrelizabeth Initiate (0) Jan 22, 2012 California

    In San Diego: I usually say one year. That should give a brewery enough time to adjust to using new equipment and tweak their batches appropriately.

    There seem to be two schools of thought when opening a brewery.

    1. Know your beer shit before you open. Brew very good beers with solid recipes and the knowledge to replicate on a larger scale. The adjustment time for these breweries is much faster (usually two or three batches) and consistent beer is usually flowing within a few months. Keep in mind that a solid beer plan doesn't always have a solid business plan behind it.

    2. Know your business shit before you open. Some guys just want to run a tasting room. They want to make beer, sure, and they've home-brewed for a bit. The best case scenario is a gastropub with a 10 gallon system in back. If the food is right, you don't even have to sell your own beer unless you like it.

    Right now, we have a handful of breweries that are great on both fronts. Societe jumps to mind. Automatic, paired with Blind Lady Alehouse and Tiger!Tiger! Monkey Paw has done a great job, and champions the homebrewer. Offbeat is good example of a brewery that has some personality and business saavvy, and after a year is just starting to catch up on the beer front. They brew solid stuff, but I think that many people come in for the food trucks and parties.

    Hess makes great beer, but they've re-branded (Mike Hess Brewing Company?) and they really lack when it comes to distribution/marketing. I've seen them on tap at two locations in the past two years. That will change with the new brewery opening up, but I do worry that San Diego might not be willing to wait for them to adjust to their new equipment. Also, they use Latin to name EVERY beer they make. It was cute at first, but now I can't remember which was which, and I have no clue what I'm ordering by name alone. Where Offbeat is very accessible and friendly and has no problem selling mediocre beer, Hess is off-putting and inaccessible, and I think they will have problems selling good-to-very-good beer.

    Keep an eye on Modern Times. They will be opening soon, but they are in no rush. They've done their homework on the business front (schooled by Stone) and beer front (hiring THREE reputable local brewers). They are as friendly as can be (open source brewing, anybody?) and have a very central location (Point Loma near the 5).
  18. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    My experience with this - a somewhat local place whose initial beers were 'meh' and I stayed away for a while. Then went to a holiday party at their place, found it was packed with tons of folks from a different crowd (in this case, hipsters) who loved the products. So there was no need for me to support them by buying a product I didn't like, because someone else liked it and they had plenty of support.
    JoEBoBpr likes this.
  19. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    I believe in giving a "home town discount." The beer doesn't have to be the best you've ever had for its style, but if you like it and it's in the ballpark, stick with them. If it tastes like they're not even playing the same sport, let them go.
    Hanzo, johnnybgood1999 and JoEBoBpr like this.
  20. leezy

    leezy Initiate (65) Sep 13, 2009 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Living and working in Minneapolis, I have access to many established and many new/up and coming breweries. Typically I find myself intrigued with a breweries line of beers and I specifically seek them out, so far I have not been disappointed so far
    djsmith1174 likes this.
  21. darknova306

    darknova306 Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2005 New York

    If you don't like a beer, there's no reason to force yourself to pay for it on a regular basis. That's just stupid. Pay for beer that you enjoy, regardless of what that beer is.
    leezy likes this.
  22. wyatt

    wyatt Aspirant (263) Nov 18, 2009 Louisiana
    Beer Trader

    The new abita spring IPA is surprisingly unabita.
    FlakyBiscuit likes this.
  23. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (580) Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Industry Beer Trader

    This is the dilemma with all the breweries in my city (San Jose). Not all of them are outright bad but some don't even do the basics well, and others seem to have no interest in trying new things. that's fine if that's your market, but you can't expect someone to keep coming back when Sierra, Firestone, Anchor, Sam Adams, etc do it better for the same or better price. I especially loathe the local brewery that does a lot of contract brewing under various names. It's a bit deceitful and the beers are almost unanimously lackluster to outright gross. I don't understand how a place can have any good reputation when their entire line of single hop IPAs tastes like butter or worse... *end rant*
  24. Blanco

    Blanco Devotee (458) Oct 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    I don't "support" businesses for the sake of "support." I buy the products I like and while an up and coming brewery might have some growing pains, if they are brewing the types of beer I don't want to drink I won't go there. I'll cut some slack on operational issues that I know can be sorted out, but for the most part, if a brewpub/brewery is brewing a certain style of beer, that's probably what they want to brew and if enough people want to buy it, they don't need my "support."
    darknova306 likes this.
  25. TheMonkfish

    TheMonkfish Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2012 Chad

    I'll check out their flagship beer off the bat - that's usually the one that made them make the leap from homebrew to commercial brew. If that blows I'lll keep them on the list, and down the road if they make something else in a style that I like then I'll usually check that out. If that beer is a dud then they are died to me unless I hear otherwise.
  26. johnnybgood1999

    johnnybgood1999 Devotee (441) Oct 31, 2008 Virginia

    I'm in Virginia, so I wonder if I have access to this brewery. I've dealt with the same thing. Williamsburg has been a very, very, pleasant surprise, while others have been mediocre at best, excluding Hardywood, due to the fact that I don't have access to them. I have looked at buying from Devil's Backbone and have not done so, because their styles have been boring to me. Loe and behold, they now make a Dubbel and I think I'll give that a shot, since I like that style. Give them a bit to open up and hopefully it will work out. If not, Williamsburg and Hardywood seem to be putting out superb beer. I just had a Barrel Aged Porter from Williamsburg and am sipping on a Coffeehouse Stout as we speak. And their pumpkin is second only to Schlafly and Pumpkinator in my experience, when taking into account price, flavor, and ABV.
  27. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Defender (602) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Hmm, not sure. However, Indeed Brewing is close to being stricken off. Their American Black Ale was terrible, despite the decent reviews I've seen on here, and it's a flagship brew.
  28. kojevergas

    kojevergas Poo-Bah (7,374) Aug 15, 2010 Texas
    Beer Trader

    It depends on the market. Here in L.A., where they have access to such a massive amount of people that their turnaround should be fast, I have short attention span. If Golden Road sees fit to brew repugnant shite like Burning Bush (a smoked IPA - and as terrible as that sounds, for the uninitiated), why should I support them?

    If a brewery was located in a smaller market (say, a town in South Dakota), I'd give them longer to sort their product out.
  29. beerme411

    beerme411 Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2010 California

    I would say while you're trying their brews get to know the staff, see if they are in this because it sounded cool and they think can jump aboard the money train then ditch them. If not well it depends on their answers such as experience in the industry (did they work at other breweries, have a nanobrewery before, homebrewing etc.), do they seem to have some sort of business plan, do they care about customer service, and of course do they care about the beer. Also when tasting their beer is it disgusting or does it seem like they have the start of something special once they work out the kinks.

    When doing the initial flight of beers, talk to the staff and/or brewer to see if they know their shit or not.
  30. DaveAnderson

    DaveAnderson Devotee (479) Jan 11, 2011 Minnesota

    You and I inhabit different universes. Midnight Ryder is delicious.
  31. WYVYRN527

    WYVYRN527 Initiate (0) Jan 8, 2007 Minnesota

    I'm in the same boat. I really enjoy both Midnight Ryder and Day Tripper. One brewery I almost wrote off was Brau Brothers. When they first emerged on the scene they had some of the most watered-down, flavorless brews I have ever tasted. Then they started getting creative and perfecting their recipes. Now just about everyting they put out there is solid. Their everyday lineup is now solid, and their barrel-aged one-offs are outstanding!
  32. JohnSnowNW

    JohnSnowNW Defender (602) Feb 6, 2013 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    We definitely do. That beer doesn't even remotely hit the profile they've listed on the can/website. It tries to be malty, but is completely destroyed by the hops...and not in a good way. All the hops do is come across as bitter...I like a little flavor profile in my hoppy beers. I'm glad you enjoy the beer, though, because it's hard not to support a local brewery.
  33. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    In some senses, I never give up on it.

    I may try it a few times and stop drinking from them, but if I hear great things sometimes down the line from people I trust, I will try again.
  34. mychalg9

    mychalg9 Champion (849) Apr 8, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Until their first IPA's hops fade
  35. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    By "think outside the box" you mean brew a DIPA, big stout, or something of that nature?

    If they only brew "run of the mill" beers and I like them, then I would support them. I don't know why you would write a brewery off when you even stated you like some of their beers...
  36. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,459) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Thanks for articulating this opinion. I've encountered quite a few folks who don't think this mentality exists. I think it is very common.
    JoEBoBpr and Mothergoose03 like this.
  37. Ernest_Hooper

    Ernest_Hooper Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2012 Michigan

    Good question. A brewery just opened right next to where I live, meaning a two minute walk close. I went there and had a very 'meh' stout. I wasn't feeling an IPA at that moment so I asked what their seasonal offerings were. They were serving a 'tangerine wit' and 'blackberry wit', in zero degree weather, in February. I just left. I'm going to revisit them, maybe tonight.
  38. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    I think its silly to say it doesnt exist. Unless you only drink the absolute best of any style, you are always doing this.

    I think of it as sort of rings, with the inner ring getting a large "discount". Local gets the largest, then regional, then US brewers. Foreign brewers dont get a "discount". Others may do it differently, but that is how it works with me.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  39. Mothergoose03

    Mothergoose03 Poo-Bah (2,035) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Supporter Subscriber

    I visit new breweries when I travel, and my experience has been that frequently the small breweries don't dial in their recipes before opening, but a well-financed operation that opens 'big' usually does it right and the beers are all good from the get-go.

    If I don't like the beers from the breweries that are not dialed in I'll give them the benefit of the doubt (along with some feedback) and be willing to visit there again to see if improvement was made. It might be a year later (give or take), so I can't answer the "how long" part of the OP's question, but after that next visit, if I don't like their beers yet, that will be my last visit.

    Here is Michigan we are fortunate to have so many good breweries that I shouldn't have to suffer too much, and I'll just drive 30 more miles to a brewery that has proven itself.
  40. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,318) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    The big well financed places can hire a brewer that has experience - Perrin.

    There are all sorts of places around that have been started by homebrewers that thought they can make good beer, but in reality do not. These struggle and take time to get their act together. Will not name names.

    There also the ones that are opened by homebrewers that do make good beer, and are able to get good beer on the taps out of the box. OG and Witches hat.
    Mothergoose03 likes this.
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