Is Michigan becoming oversaturated with Craft Beer options?

Discussion in 'Great Lakes' started by bassfishingguy, Dec 6, 2015.

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  1. bassfishingguy

    bassfishingguy Initiate (0) Apr 19, 2014 Michigan

    While shopping at a local liquor store today, I started to think about this question. In Michigan, we have over 200 'craft breweries', and are very spoiled with all of our local offerings. In very recent times, however, it seems that the options are becoming endless.

    When you take into account all of the Michigan offerings, and many recent big additions to our distribution portfolio (see: Ballast Point, Alpine, Prairie Artisan Ales, etc...), I had to step back and re-evaluate some things. I would love nothing more than to be able to get specialty releases that were previously unavailable in Michigan, but it seems there are just so many damn options now!

    I am realistically asking this question because a) I only have so much money for beer and b) It's more difficult to select an IPA (for example) when you have a selection including a dozen+ outstanding/world class choices available at any given time now.

    Also, just to be clear, this isn't something that I view as a problem, nor do I want my post to be conveyed as being negative; rather want to hear others' viewpoints on the matter.

    #1stworldproblems :slight_smile:
  2. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    We are seeing much the same thing going on here in SE PA--lots of choices that didn't exist five years ago and lots of things to choose from. This is where I find both the BA review database and some of the forums particularly useful. Basically I can learn from the mistakes of others and not have to pay for making them all myself. :slight_smile:

    I reduce the potential bad choices by making a multi beer shopping list that I can carry in my pocket on my iPod. After spending some time checking out some of the new beers based on the reviews done by people with tastes similar to mine I add a new beer to the list and then when I go shopping I typically have a particular beer I want to look for by I've also got lots of other things to look for and don't have to decide 100% on the spot. So I recently bought two mix sixes of things I'd not tried before and already had a pretty good idea I wanted to try the beers. So far I'm batting a thousand on this last trip.
    #2 drtth, Dec 6, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
  3. cl3

    cl3 Savant (1,208) Aug 16, 2013 Wisconsin

    I'm pretty sure this is happening almost everywhere. WI is the same way. Those same breweries are now available (except Prairie) have all been available here now for a little bit now as well. Craft beer is bigger than it has ever been. Breweries are expanding their distro footprints everywhere. People on the west coast are probably saying the same thing about Bell's, popping up in their markets, that you are saying about your MI options with BP and Alpine being available now.

    It's a great idea for the business owners in the craft beer industry to expand while the market is booming. Strike while the iron is hot, right?
  4. justinp444

    justinp444 Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2015 Michigan

    I love it, the more the better. Sure you probably can't buy them all, especially if you are on a tight budget, but I love more options. I feel like with the more beers that are present and the more demand for the best it's only going to increase the amount of high quality beer we get, it'll create more competition and make everyone step their game up. Look at New Holland, they didn't have anything worthwhile (Dragon's Milk is decent but it gets old) and now they revamped their IPA's, added more, gave us more sour choices, and are giving us these fantastic Dragon's Milk variants that they had released few and far between previously. It can only get better from here.
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  5. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,281) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Store space is certainly at a premium with so many beer options, but I think it was in this thread ( that someone, who I think was from Michigan, took the time to look at state distribution numbers per state in and determined that Michigan was about two-thirds of the way down the list. So we don't necessarily have a high number of breweries; however, that study does not take into account how many bottled options are offered by each brewery.
    hopnado and westlaunboy like this.
  6. Lazhal

    Lazhal Pooh-Bah (1,804) Mar 13, 2011 Michigan
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    It always seemed to me we have many great stout options and not enough great IPA options.
  7. westlaunboy

    westlaunboy Pundit (846) Mar 31, 2010 Washington

    Yeah I did something like that with Seekabrew once, and relative to our population we were woefully far down. I think we were like 36th in #of breweries with distro despite being 10th in population. (I mention population because that seems to be the most predictive factor [Michigan notwithstanding] and that makes sense.)

    Just compare us to Ohio or Illinois - their lists on the compare page are like three times as long!
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  8. Andonato

    Andonato Initiate (0) Nov 27, 2012 Michigan

    From the retail side of things, I work for Plum Market AA, its great! Variety and the newest offerings are what most craft customers seem to want. From the Brewery side of things; in the near future I'm expecting some issues with over saturation and flooded markets. I worry that breweries sales won't be as high as they maybe expect, causing them to pull out.
  9. phildow

    phildow Initiate (0) Jan 6, 2013 Michigan

    I was just in Chicago for the Bourbon County release at Binny's - if you think we have a lot of beer in MI, go to Binny's Lincoln Park. I feel like they have everything you can get in MI and then some.
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  10. chicagogooner

    chicagogooner Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2014 Illinois

    We are very spoiled with the amount we get compared to other cities.

    I spend a lot of time in Michigan and have no issues with there being new/additional great offerings that come about.
  11. Prager62

    Prager62 Grand Pooh-Bah (4,076) May 7, 2010 Colorado
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    When you get Firestone Walker my border crossings will be complete!
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  12. MostlyMichiganBeerReview

    MostlyMichiganBeerReview Initiate (0) Aug 4, 2015 Michigan

    I like trying new beers each week (Michigan and Out-of-Towners), but there will always be Michigan beers that are always in my fridge that are year-round and seasonal. I am conflicted sometimes on delivery days with all the new brews i haven't tried, but i usually always support Michigan. Tis home.
    docoman likes this.
  13. AnchorDrops

    AnchorDrops Initiate (0) May 11, 2013 Michigan

    It's great but with everyone chasing down the flavor of the month (or week, or day) there are a lot of IPA's fading on the shelves.
    spry, Tracker83 and Fargrow like this.
  14. tommyz

    tommyz Initiate (0) May 28, 2007 Michigan

    I disagree that its great..Most stores, and yes, I say most stores who have a lot of out of state beers are grossly old..Except the typical flavors of the month and breweries who are brand new to the state in distribution..Once those new breweries distribution have been around for a bit, they turn into "shelf turds"...Our state is extremely loyal to our breweries in craft beer..
  15. phildow

    phildow Initiate (0) Jan 6, 2013 Michigan

    I talked to another Plum Market's beer buyer and he said the same thing, more or less. Look at breweries like Stone, for example - about 6 different six packs and 6-8 different bombers at any given time. I don't know if larger groceries will have to cut back on orders when that quantity sits for months at a time, but I can see how smaller mom & pop liquor stores would have to cut back when a brand doesn't move. Then they might not get the next limited release and lose customers that way.

    I have to give it to the big MI breweries - for example, Founders. 5 distributed beers available year round, 2 seasonal beers a quarter, and 4 limited series available roughly one month of the year...with the occasional Backstage series here and there. Just my thoughts though.
  16. Fargrow

    Fargrow Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2013 Michigan

    It's hard to complain about too many options. But it does affect the rotation of new stock, and therefore affects our ability to get fresh IPAs. I see way too many full-price beers sitting on a warm shelf with 2013 dating at Mega-Bev. It's bad for the drinker (flavor), bad for the brewer (rating, reputation), and bad for the store (years between expense and revenue).

    I'm not sure if oversaturation is the exact issue. But when it translates to old beer, that's definitely a problem.
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  17. FEUO

    FEUO Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2012 Canada (ON)

    Once FW lands I will finally say "enough".
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  18. westlaunboy

    westlaunboy Pundit (846) Mar 31, 2010 Washington

    Outside of some "moonshots" that will never happen (RR, New Glarus, HF, etc.), I'm pretty much with you here.

    OK, actually I would take Half Acre and Cigar City. And Maine and Brew Kettle. And FFF. They all distribute in our region already.

    But that's it.
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  19. borto1ms

    borto1ms Initiate (0) Sep 18, 2013 Michigan

    I had heard from a source about the time we were getting word that Ballast Point was coming on Black Friday that next up was Boulevard and then sometime in the first few months of the new year, Firestone Walker would be in Michigan. Looked around on here to see if anyone else mentioned it, but couldn't find any threads. Hoping that what I was told is true though.

    Not that it will help with "oversaturation" or my wallet, but would love to have FW in Michigan.
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  20. FEUO

    FEUO Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2012 Canada (ON)

    And Revolution for dat fresh Anti Hero.
    Spare me Cigar City and even Half Acre. Brew Kettle, yes. Maine, if I have to. FFF... wishful thinking. Even then it would likely be an onslaught of Robert the Bruce and some english IPA's wit crazy labels that don't move in IN.

    I'm vaguely remembering hearing/reading this too....
    While the Barrelworks stuff would be amazing I'd be "over the moon" for Pivo and Easy Jack cans.
  21. westlaunboy

    westlaunboy Pundit (846) Mar 31, 2010 Washington

    I'm more of a Daisy Cutter > Anti-Hero guy. And from CC I would be happy with just Jai Alai, though I'd also love to try Zhukov and some of their other stuff.
    SeanBond likes this.
  22. FEUO

    FEUO Initiate (0) Jul 24, 2012 Canada (ON)

    Yeah, Daisy Cutter didn't blow me away like I hoped it would whereas I could drink Anti-Hero everyday. Hits all the right notes for me.
    Jai Alai is nice stuff too. Zhukov is ok. Nothing so extraordinary that it beats long time favorite MI stouts (Expedition for one).
  23. Blutz

    Blutz Devotee (378) Mar 25, 2014 Michigan

    Some very good points here and a really interesting topic. But if you look at the issue from the perspective of the smaller mom and pop shops that don't have endless isles to utilize, over-saturation will certainly have an impact. You only have so much shelf space, and obviously it will be devoted to the beers that move, possibly making it harder for smaller upstarts to compete. This is not to mention the impact on local breweries being pushed out for higher selling, more established national brands like Stone, Sierra etc. As additional brands hit the market, something will eventually get cut back, whether it be the number of varieties, or the number of breweries carried. There is only so much beer a store can carry.

    On another note, because of the increasing number of varieties, I've found myself buying more single bottles than ever before. For me personally, six packs are now reserved for the must-haves and seasonal favorites. There is just too much out there to try. Not a bad thing...for now.
  24. beer_pilgrim

    beer_pilgrim Initiate (0) Jul 5, 2015 Michigan

    That is funny, as I always felt IPAs are over represented. I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side, eh?
  25. bassfishingguy

    bassfishingguy Initiate (0) Apr 19, 2014 Michigan

    I appreciate all of you chiming in on this one. While waiting in line to fill out my BBPT5 order I was discussing this matter further with some other BA's. It then hit me (which has already been mentioned here), more choices will lead to more shelf turds. I mean most stores (even the reputable ones) store quite a few IPAs and room temp vs. refrigerated. That alone to me makes a noticeable difference in those beers in a much shorter span of time. More options = more bad beer (which from the sounds of it is already an issue). It's one thing to carry a damn good selection, while it's an entirely different beast to carry of a damn good selection of beers that are in their prime.
  26. BeerNDoggerel

    BeerNDoggerel Initiate (0) Mar 13, 2011 Illinois

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  27. BeerMeBro720

    BeerMeBro720 Initiate (0) May 2, 2013 Ohio

  28. AnchorDrops

    AnchorDrops Initiate (0) May 11, 2013 Michigan

    A well-known bottle shop in MI posted on their blog that they have run out of shelf/fridge/floor space and will be adjusting their inventory to eliminate some beer that simply doesn't move. They cited the sheer numbers of beer available.
  29. spry

    spry Initiate (0) Oct 8, 2009 Michigan

    As some posters have mentioned above, the problem is that a lot of beers just sit on the shelf for far too long. This is especially true of lower alcohol beers that are not very popular with craft beer drinkers in Michigan. While I agree that the options for IPAs and stouts available in Michigan has grown recently, I think this is making it even harder to find a get fresh German pilsner or British ESB on the shelf. So given my preferences, this is actually a negative.
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