Poor Business Sense

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BenwayPHD, Jun 16, 2015.

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  1. BenwayPHD

    BenwayPHD Aspirant (289) Sep 4, 2014 California

    I recently went to a fantastic brewery in California's central coast, I would rather not name any names, but they made some of the best beer I've ever had. They had a menu of around 15 beers. The only problem was that they only had two beers that were available for growler fills, and they only had two beers that were available in bottles, which were not available on draft and priced at $20 which basically meant i had to buy it without trying it. I wanted to take some beer from them home for my girlfriend, but the beer I loved I couldn't buy, and the beer I could buy, I couldn't try. On top of this, they did not offer tasting flights. Their smallest pour was six ounces so i only had the opportunity to try four beers from the menu. It seems like they were going out of their way to make supporting them difficult. Have you come across any breweries whose business policies seemed to make no sense and got on the way of sales?
  2. Mr_Abner

    Mr_Abner Initiate (112) Aug 22, 2014 Michigan

    Pretty clear which brewery you're talking about. I'm pretty sure the limited growler fills are a way of trying to balance a number of factors: supply/demand (where the demand far exceeds supply, so far as I can tell); allowing some draft beer to go/wanting to have a good variety available for consumption on premises, etc. I guess the practice always struck me as a reasonable compromise.

    FWIW, if I am visiting a brewery of this caliber, you can bet I'm taking home some bottles and a growler or two! ... No complaints from me about having to try a new beer at home.
  3. edd562

    edd562 Initiate (0) Jun 11, 2014 California

    I used to run into this problem a lot at breweries mainly about the growler fills. I went up to the chain of command and they told me it all boils down to "laws" not allowing them in to put beer with an abv of a certain amount in a growler. Which was total bs to me because if I was gonna get wasted at home on high abv or at the brewery by buying 4oz/8oz pours until I reached the 64oz of growler size (while trying to hold my composure) what's the difference? It amazes me how BS like that be tolerated.
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  4. JouerAvecLeFeu

    JouerAvecLeFeu Defender (688) Apr 17, 2015 Washington

    It does drive me nuts when a brewery is selling bottles - especially bottles that are priced up in the high numbers - and don't have the beer on tap so you can taste before buying... I mean, I do understand that many beers are bottle conditioned. But still. I want to know what I'm getting myself into.
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  5. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (510) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    Just like alcohol laws in general, growler regulations can have their own peculiarities and they do vary from state to state, but I've also seen what you're referring to where the owners/managers make up their own "laws" to justify their actions, knowing few patrons will actually look up the regulations.
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  6. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (4,006) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    More often than not what I've seen is that the gal/guy at the brewery, thinks s/he knows what the law says and can't afford or hasn't bothered to get legal advice rather than listen to "word of mouth" law from buddies. That leads to a lot of really weird local interpretations. Doesn't help that the laws are written by lawyers, for lawyers. :-)
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  7. youbrewidrink

    youbrewidrink Initiate (0) Apr 9, 2009 Vermont

    Hill Farmstead sells tons of bottles that you don't get to taste and I don't hear a whole lot of complaining about it.

    Would you be willing to pay full price for a bottle to drink on premise like Cantillon, just because you have heard others say it's great.

    Do a little home work on BA and check reviews on the bottled beers or live on the edge and take a chance.
  8. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    I'm guessing this is SARA? I also went for the first time a few weeks ago. I actually loved the limited-growler-option set up. Rather than a line out the door of people filling growlers a la Hill Farmstead, it means the people going there were there to drink beer. Made it a much more relaxed experience. My guess is that if they needed to sell growlers of any beer they would, so the fact that they aren't means they don't need to. Flights would have been nice - agreed. But wasn't a massive deal. As for bottles available that you didn't get to try first - is that really that uncommon? Seems like it's fairly standard practice at a lot of the breweries I've been to.
  9. GreesyFizeek

    GreesyFizeek Poo-Bah (8,318) Mar 6, 2013 New York
    Society Trader

    If this is SARA, which it def seems like it is, it seems that you should've just bought the bottles, as there was a 99% chance that were going to be tasty.
  10. LambicPentameter

    LambicPentameter Meyvn (1,428) Aug 29, 2012 Nebraska

    I'm not sure that having a setup that is counter to your personal preference counts as "bad business sense", OP.

    Of course, you are absolutely welcome to have said preferences for how you'd like to experience/enjoy your beer, but having good business sense is more about aligning your business setup in such a way that you maximize returns from the entire market. And I'm not sure that the setup you describe is going to be much of a turnoff for most people.

    As has been suggested here, all it means is that they've chosen to focus on in-house consumption sales (which might have a higher margin) as opposed to to-go sales. I don't know if this place sold food or not, but if they do, in-house consumption also increases the likelihood of a customer purchasing more beer or some food.
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  11. drbenderdo

    drbenderdo Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2013 Michigan

    I can understand the growler and bottle restrictions, but what I don't get is the absence of flights. One of the most enjoyable parts of the craft beer experience for me is sitting at the bar and drinking through the chalkboard lineup with multiple flights. This is especially helpful if I'm just visiting the area and won't ever be a regular.
  12. SaisonRichBiere

    SaisonRichBiere Savant (969) Mar 23, 2011 Michigan

    Was the brewery good enough to trust "taking a chance" on the bottles? If so, just buy them and give them a try- at least you can say you did. If they aren't awesome, oh well, better luck next time. I can't say everything I've bought at a brewery (for whatever price point...$-$$$) was mind-blowing, but that's part of the trial-and-error of trying a new beer. Are we so spoiled these days and scared that a $20 bomber from the source isn't going to be Pliny? Not that I have a money tree in my backyard dedicated to beer purchases, but for every sub-par $20 beer you buy, there's probably one out there for $5 somewhere that can blow your mind. Thrill of the hunt and the chances you take. Live a little.

    As a consumer, this can be frustrating, but as a business owner myself, I can see it from both sides. The breweries can do whatever they want without being chalked up to "poor business sense". 99% of the time, it's a very detailed calculated plan for what they have to do to keep the doors open, pay their people, pay their investors, etc., so we can come in and have a nice experience. 20 buck bombers that you can't try, and limited growler offerings are just part of the deal.
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  13. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Defender (634) May 29, 2011 Florida

    Margins generally are higher per in-house pour than growler fill. Perhaps it is more than just about margins. Maybe they have limited supply of those other beers not available in growler format and want it to be consumed in-house so that more people have access to it and the product doesn't move lightning quick.

    Whatever their rationale is, it's their brewery to run. There are a ton of moving pieces that consumers don't see at a brewery and a lot of information you, the consumer, don't know and don't have access to. We can sit here and postulate all day whether it is good or bad business, but in reality there is infinitely more to a small business and operating brewery than which beers they package to go.

    Personal opinion, if it is SARA... their reputation for quality precedes them and I would have no issue pulling the trigger on bottles without sampling. When you go to a bottle store, how often do they sample out beers before you buy?
  14. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Which I suppose is an argument in favor of not offering flights.
  15. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (4,006) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I'm reading though this thread and I keep thinking. I don't remember ever being in a bar, whether owned and operated by a brewery or not, where every bottle on offer was also on tap for tasting.

    Edit: I also keep thinking that if I had the opportunity to visit a place like that I'd be bringing with me a list of beers I wanted to sample and a list of beers I'd be happy to find on bottle because you never know what you'll find on offer in such places until you get there.
    #15 drtth, Jun 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2015
  16. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (7,575) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
    Society Trader

    Maybe one of the reasons for not offering taster trays is that they're a huge PITA. They're a time sink for the staff, and you've got so much more glassware to stock, wash, and replace.
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  17. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,127) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina

    Perhaps they feel like having people drink their beer instead of taste their beer is a better business model?
  18. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    And then to top it off the person never returns!
  19. atpca

    atpca Zealot (540) Jun 10, 2013 California

    The last few times I've gone to SARA I've showed up 15-35 minutes before they open and there have always been others waiting. By the time the doors open there were at least 20 people in line. I don't think they're having trouble selling their beer.
  20. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,847) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    have to agree with @LambicPentameter and actually their strategy is arguably good business sense. There's probably a good number of people who will just buy them to try them anyway, and they're avoiding all of the nuisances that accompany a generous tasting policy.
  21. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Defender (634) May 29, 2011 Florida

    I have mixed feelings on flights. It slows down service and reduces efficiency. One could also argue that flights reduce sales per customer. Think about it. You want to sample what a brewery has and order two $8 flights. You've now sampled 8 beers (32 oz) for $16. If no flights, I'm more likely to have 3-4 pours to really sample what I want. Now I'm spending $18 - $24 on 48oz - 64oz. I'm in favor of giving people 1oz splash samples if they don't know what they want. I would rather increased sales on quicker moving product than higher margins on slower moving product.
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  22. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Actually thinking about it, SARA was probably one of the best brewery experiences I've had in the US. Had around six small pours, with each beer being very good to outstanding, and with no waiting involved. Then bought two bottles to go. And then napped for a couple of hours while my wife drove us to Tomales Bay.
  23. drbenderdo

    drbenderdo Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2013 Michigan

    Quite a number of people include highly sought after craft beer brewpubs/breweries as part of a vacation destination. So yes, I find it very helpful and a great service when such places offer tasting flights, since the chance of me ever returning to said place may be very unlikely. I regular a few great places here in Michigan, all of which offer flights and all of which are extraordinarily successful. Do I order flights from these places regularly....no. Especially if its the same rotation.....I'll try what looks good and then go back and drink more of what I like.
  24. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Of course. I do too (re making a brewery a vacation destination). When I visited it was part of a vacation. That last part was a joke. But all I was pointing out (as have others, and as have you with your last post) is that flights are a labor-intensive way of getting beers to the people who are least likely to become regulars. So I can understand why somewhere may not do it.
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  25. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (134) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    Don't assume they lied to you just because "the law" sounds stupid. There are no shortage of stupid laws, especially when it comes to how beer is distributed.
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  26. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (134) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    This, Trillium as well. But those breweries have a well-earned reputation for consistently producing quality beer, so I'll take a flyer on something I haven't tasted yet.

    I'll usually take a flyer anyways. I've yet to have a beer that I had to drain pour in doing that, though I've had a few that just weren't to my taste.
  27. mwa423

    mwa423 Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2007 Ohio

    A lack of flights is a pet peeve as well, but if they don't offer them, they don't have to buy the glassware and spend the time pouring 4+ small glasses (though it usually is a higher revenue/oz on a flight). As for growlers, I know several breweries who don't offer growlers on many of their beers because they're selling every drop they brew by the pint. (Do the math $5 pint = .31 cents/oz, would need to be a $20 growler for the same revenue/oz). Also, it's possible that only one small batch of a given beer was made and a couple growlers could be 20% of the entire 5 gallon batch or something. While I wish there was unlimited capacity of all beer I wanted, I live in the real world and wouldn't call it "poor business sense".

    Anybody who claims that there are weird laws relating to growler fills when there are none in their state should be forced to drink nothing but Natty Ice for a year. That'll teach them to BS people. I'm looking at you every brewery/store in Ohio and Kentucky who won't fill other people's growlers.
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  28. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (134) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    ^MA is in the process of attempting to change that law. We'll see how it goes.
  29. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Also to note about SARA. It's in a small industrial zone of an unassuming town. I imagine the only people that go there are either regulars, or beer nerds making the trip. I don't run a business, and anyone who does should or shouldn't offer flights as they see fit, but I would have thought flights make sense if your brewery is a large destination-type place (like Firestone Walker), or if you're located on a busy main street in a town. Basically places/situations where non-nerd non-regulars are likely to show up.
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  30. jlsims04

    jlsims04 Devotee (489) Jul 14, 2013 Illinois

    If your talking about SARA what are you complaining about? The only gripe I buy is no tasting flights. When a brewery like that has such an excellent track record you buy bottles and look forward to trying at home. Thats like going out to Hill FarmStead and not bying any bottles because they are not available to taste.

    Again I really dont get why you would complain about getting such excellet beer without tasting it. Have you never gone to a beer release? You ususally never get to taste limited or special releases.
    #30 jlsims04, Jun 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2015
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  31. jlsims04

    jlsims04 Devotee (489) Jul 14, 2013 Illinois

    Could not agree more. That being said SARA I think is next on my list after crossing HF off several weeks ago.
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  32. bostonwolf

    bostonwolf Initiate (134) Jan 20, 2015 Massachusetts

    Hill Farmstead actually switched to a "ticket" system like our local brewery Treehouse uses. You get there, fill out a ticket for what you want and then they call your name when it's filled. You can go wander around, do your sample pours, etc.
  33. jlsims04

    jlsims04 Devotee (489) Jul 14, 2013 Illinois

    Yea but you still have to wait in line to hand them your ticket. (At least you did when I was there)
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  34. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Meyvn (1,011) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

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  35. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Understood. But if there's 50 people ahead of you, then you're still waiting a while. Just not in a line. So replace "line out the door of people filling" with "group of people milling around waiting for"

    Guess the point was that there are pros and cons to not offering a comprehensive list of growler options. A pro for SARA is no/limited waiting.
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  36. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Sante Adairius Rustic Ales - a brewery in Capitola, CA
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  37. dennis3951

    dennis3951 Meyvn (1,011) Mar 6, 2008 New Jersey

    Thanks, never heard of the brewery or the city.
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  38. TheGator321

    TheGator321 Initiate (0) May 29, 2013 Connecticut

    I'll usually take the risk. But, I can understand how it's a pain.
  39. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (878) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    I'm going against my own set of rules and using too many acronyms. Need to stop that haha
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  40. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Savant (952) Sep 4, 2010 California

    It's possible that they did have it on tap for a few kegs but the kegs kicked and they still had bottles to sell.
    GamehendgeBrewingCo likes this.
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