Serious brewery criteria

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by VitoFerrante, Feb 18, 2013.

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  1. VitoFerrante

    VitoFerrante Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Here are my thoughts as to when a brewery is serious about making beer. I don't think you can call a brewery a contender, for the most part, until they start bottling beer. They become a serious threat when they can their beer. Until you can ship your product in cans or bottles, you can only really be local and "up and comer" status. A brewery cannot make serious money for re-investment into their facility and product with just kegs and growlers. They are just spinning their wheels or growing organically at that point. Your thoughts?
  2. victory4me

    victory4me Zealot (547) Oct 16, 2004 Pennsylvania

    A contender for what?

    I see no problem with a brewery that wants to have 100% control of their product and only have interest in providing for the region they are in. "Spinning their wheels?" Not really sure what that means, there are many small brewpubs that are very profitable and well regarded without having to bottle anything. Is a fine restaurant spinning its wheels until they become a massive chain or a food production center?
    Jacurdy60, Gatch, weatherdog and 9 others like this.
  3. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,449) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I like the fact that there are several excellent small breweries that are " local only" and applaud the owners for wanting to avoid all the extra expenses and losses of quality of life associated with "going big." We don't need another ABInBev in our lives. As for "serious money," once you've found the life you want to live more money only makes your lawyers and accountants and other bean counters happy.
  4. MrDanno96

    MrDanno96 Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2009 Ohio

    This is inaccurate, IMO. There a several brewpubs around the Cleveland area that make EXCELLENT beer, but do not bottle (or bottle extremely small amounts for local bottle shops) and don't have any plans to start doing so. I still call these places breweries, and frankly I think it would be disrespectful to say they don't qualify as a "brewery" simply because they don't bottle. You don't have to have super-wide distribution to be a world-class brewery. See Westvleteren, Hills Farmstead, Alchemist, Portsmouth, Jackie O's, etc.
    gpawned, DarkDragon999 and tgchief like this.
  5. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    Kuhnhenn doesn't bottle much of their stuff, and when they do, it's usually in pathetically small numbers and doesn't go far from the brewery itself. And I don't think anyone would consider them "wheel spinners".
    tommyz, Gatch and tgchief like this.
  6. VitoFerrante

    VitoFerrante Initiate (0) Sep 11, 2012 Pennsylvania

    I just like to walk into a brewery and leave with their product in a bottle or can.
  7. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,535) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    I don't think the canning or bottling capability has anything in common with the ability to make a quality product. Brew Pubs grow as they need too, as the popularity grows and it's financially feasible to do so they start bottling. The only thing that would change this would be a big infusion on cash. If they rush to bottle, finances could be an issue and quality could be affected, then it unravels.
    yemenmocha and Hopsiam14 like this.
  8. TheBeerAlmanac

    TheBeerAlmanac Savant (967) Mar 3, 2011 Kentucky
    Beer Trader

    I think there's a disconnect in your reasoning. "Serious about making beer" and "serious about making money" are not necessarily the same thing.
    dasenebler, jglowe77, jgluck and 3 others like this.
  9. Nectar

    Nectar Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2013 New Jersey

    Not serious until they bottle or can?

    Serious about money? Or beer?
    jglowe77 and ColdOne like this.
  10. ColdOne

    ColdOne Aspirant (225) Jan 19, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    Tell it to the guys at Peekskill. Sure, I wish I could get their stuff here in central NY, but that doesn't change the fact that they're going to be producing some world class sours.

    If I'm correct, they built their new facility with the idea that they would never bottle. They can supply regional bars and restaurants, but mostly people can hop on the train and visit the taproom/restaurant.
  11. Nectar

    Nectar Initiate (0) Jan 17, 2013 New Jersey

    Heady Topper is rarely shipped from the brewery. Is The Alchemist not serious?
    Stormfield likes this.
  12. mellowmark

    mellowmark Aspirant (263) Mar 31, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    And because they don't cater to you personally they are "spinning their wheels"? What's wrong with growlers anyway?
    beerepiphany likes this.
  13. TheFunGuy

    TheFunGuy Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2011 Virginia

    Exceptions to this rule:

    Golden City Brewery.

    Most brewpubs in Michigan, until Chaldeans came to run the state liquor control commission and allowed different licensing of different floor areas. (They also put in a Christer pro-feminist which is a whole nother mess).
  14. coreyfmcdonald

    coreyfmcdonald Savant (953) Nov 13, 2008 Georgia
    Beer Trader

    They also sell some of their beer for $15/6oz. I don't agree with the OP - just playing Devil's advocate.
  15. SaCkErZ9

    SaCkErZ9 Poo-Bah (2,214) Feb 27, 2005 South Carolina
    Beer Trader

    What about growlers? Those are to-go and some offer different sizes of growlers. In some states, it is illegal to sell bottles or cans from the brewery.
  16. JM03

    JM03 Initiate (0) Nov 12, 2010 Ohio

    I'm sure these breweries would like to have bottles/cans of their beer to sell to you. Not everyone is able to do that though.
  17. brewbetter

    brewbetter Initiate (0) Jun 2, 2012 Nauru

    How about this? "You're not a serious craft brewery until at least one of your beers is rated at least a 90 on BA."
    jglowe77 and DarkDragon999 like this.
  18. daysinthewake

    daysinthewake Initiate (0) Nov 13, 2010 California

  19. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (740) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    That's the most bizarre way of judging quality I've ever seen.
    jgluck likes this.
  20. mecummins

    mecummins Initiate (0) Nov 16, 2012 Illinois

    I can think of several excellent breweries here in Chicago that don't sell outside their brewpub (except in growlers.) Some of them have even won awards for their beers. Of course awards don't actually mean all that much in the grand scheme, but at least the Great American Beer Festival considers them serious breweries and that's a good enough qualifier for me.
  21. teal

    teal Initiate (78) May 3, 2012 Wisconsin

    So most, if not all home brewers are "serious breweries"?

    After all - I can go into my brewery and walk out with a bottle at any time. I perform the exact same steps as any other brewery with my grains and yeasts, just smaller amounts. I bottle. I'm a serious brewery....
    salzar likes this.
  22. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Meyvn (1,167) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    Blanket statements and broad standards do not fairly cover each individual brewery. You really have to look at what the intentions of each individual brewery is before you can apply your standard. You can have a very serious brewery with out distribution, bottles or even growlers.

    We would all appreciate the option of walking out with products in hand if we so desired but that should not be the criteria used to judge if a brewery is "serious" or not. Plenty of breweries have made money to reinvest and expand prior to distribution and bottling.
  23. MetalMountainMastiff

    MetalMountainMastiff Initiate (0) Oct 1, 2012 California
    Beer Trader

    I Can' believe this to be true. For example I LOVE barleywine ale....Yet over buying most bottled I would gladly go to 50/50 to drink Old Conundrum one of my favorite beers. Which means in some way they're beating out the "competition".
  24. blivingston1985

    blivingston1985 Disciple (326) Jan 7, 2010 North Carolina

    I think what you meant to say is that a brewery isn't serious about making a LOT of beer, not just serious about beer, unless...
  25. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,554) Mar 18, 2010 California

    A brewery isn't serious about making beer until BAs determine they are.
    Beerontwowheels likes this.
  26. BKBassist

    BKBassist Devotee (439) Jan 24, 2013 New York

    That's like saying a band isn't serious until they put out a record on vinyl. If a business is able to sustain its financials using only keg sales and a taproom, and put out a consistently good product, why should they have to bottle and can?
  27. reverseapachemaster

    reverseapachemaster Aspirant (244) Sep 21, 2012 Texas
    Beer Trader

    This is among the worst threads I've seen started on BA. What a baseless assertion.

    At least OP came back around and admitted what he meant to say is that a brewery isn't serious about making beer until it develops the entire business to accommodate his personal preference.
    spicelab likes this.
  28. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,535) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Being remote is a real plus here, imagine if they would have put up shop in a bigger town? I'm sure the demand would exceed the production capabilities, as it is now you can roll in on a Mon and buy 10 cases if you want. The only place to get it on tap is Prohibition Pig, and your right every once in a blue moon they send some teaser cases to Boston or Philly.
  29. ColdOne

    ColdOne Aspirant (225) Jan 19, 2013 New York
    Beer Trader

    Sorry, this is about to get borderline political. But what the heck?

    Smaller breweries (and local everything) will be the nature of the new economy. As gas prices continue to rise, people are already staying closer to home. Economies of scale are starting to work in reverse: a business can sustain itself by appealing to local needs and reducing costs that way. Look at CSAs (farm coops) as a prime example of businesses thinking big by staying small and local. It's great for communities and it's great for the environment.

    /end rant
    brewsader and beertunes like this.
  30. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,554) Mar 18, 2010 California

    Isn't it like this in Germany already?
  31. keysburg

    keysburg Initiate (138) Mar 28, 2012 Massachusetts

    I think the only thing breweries become a "serious threat" to when they start bottling is my wallet.
    SDJason likes this.
  32. afrokaze

    afrokaze Zealot (586) Jun 12, 2009 Arizona
    Industry Beer Trader

    My favorite local brewery has only bottled 3 beers and less than 200 bottles each time, does that not make them serious about their product? The head brewer likes to have control over his product and can't invest in a big new space/bottling line, etc. but they've still been getting lots of attention because all that matters at the end of the day is that the beer is good.
  33. MacNCheese

    MacNCheese Initiate (0) Dec 10, 2011 California

    I think the OP is drinking out of the wrong end of the bottle.

    Canning/Bottling has absolutely nothing to do with a brewery being serious about beer.
  34. ShogoKawada

    ShogoKawada Meyvn (1,247) May 31, 2009 Pennsylvania

    whut about a growler?
  35. joelwlcx

    joelwlcx Initiate (198) Apr 23, 2007 Minnesota

    So, you come here, onto a forum where we, as the majority of a group, openly criticize big breweries for putting revenue before quality of product...

    ...and you start this thread?
  36. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    And your evidence for this is....... ??

    Why must every brewery seek to grow into a behemoth? Why can't a small brewery make a small amount of money to invest into their facility in a small way?
  37. tommyz

    tommyz Devotee (420) May 28, 2007 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    And? I dont understand this post...
  38. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I don't know what website you've been reading, but beeradvocates that I see aren't criticizing big breweries that put profits first. They are linning up to buy their stuff, trading unheard of amount of beers to get their stuff and talking about the triumphs of their stuff. Don't believe me, look up threads regarding Bourbon County Brand Stout and it's variations.

    BA's love the big brewery now. They hated it because they didn't sell a good product, now they sell a good product and BA's love it. I think the mindset of the OP is one that a lot of beeradvocates are starting to share. They want the perfect beer and they want it accessible to them 24/7 at a reasonable price.

    I wish it weren't true.....but as far as I can see, it is.
    victory4me likes this.
  39. tommyz

    tommyz Devotee (420) May 28, 2007 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I didnt know BCBS was accessible to me 24/7..................:rolling_eyes:
  40. Kinsman

    Kinsman Champion (873) Aug 26, 2009 California

    I know of a couple of guys named Shaun (well, one of them spells it Sean but close enough)in Vermont who would beg to differ. BA's are going apeshit over their beer but neither have expressed much interest in expanding much beyond local status. Yea, they both could make a lot of money by upscaling their breweries and hiring more guys to help them but at what expense to their quality of life? If their content with the way things are then all the BA's don't have access to their beer are just going to have to suck it up and drive up there.
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