The Slow Rise & Fall... of Braven

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by NeroFiddled, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,711) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    https://vinepair.com/articles/brave...-44976825&mc_cid=26157f8427&mc_eid=d134f02872

    This is an interesting article that I feel is worth reading but what I really found odd was the belief that label art is really that important in getting a beer to sell. Personally I think a lot of the labels from these new breweries look bad, or seem contrived, or even stupid IMHO. Maybe that's because I'm old, or that I'm an artist, but most of these cool new labels turn me away.
     
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Jim (@NeroFiddled) my sole experience with Braven was Bushwick Pilsner which I discussed in a NBS thread:

    https://www.beeradvocate.com/community/threads/new-beer-sunday-week-657.538051/#post-5651210

    “Overall

    I enjoyed drinking this beer. If I had to choose a single word to describe this beer it would be malty.

    The flavor profile of this beer is more reminiscent to me of a Vienna Lager vs. a Classic American Pilsner.”

    As we know the Lager/Pilsner style is not what gets the Beer Geek portion of the craft beer market excited.

    From the article:

    “They had issues with their contract brewer going out of business with virtually no warning last winter, plus a high rent [$11,330 a month] for a space that was mostly used for beer production.” Frequent L train shutdowns and nearby competition were also significant drawbacks, he says.”

    The nearby competition was one of several aspects that Braven’s owners didn’t accurately forecast as they plotted their brewery. As they told VinePair in 2016, they thought that they would have the area to themselves. Instead, Interboro opened in late 2016, when that part of Bushwick was now called East Williamsburg. Then, KCBC opened in 2017, and Grimm opened just north of Interboro in 2018.

    All three of these breweries focused on weekly releases of 16-ounce cans, which revealed another flaw in Braven’s plan. A key component of Thompson and Feldman’s research and development occurred on a trip to Colorado in 2013, back during New York’s backwater days. They planned on producing beers in 6-packs, the industry norm then and for decades prior. Their aesthetic? A seemingly cutting-edge, post-millennial spin on Milton Glaser’s iconic Brooklyn Brewery labels.”

    In my opinion the above aspects played a more significant role in the demise of Braven Brewing:

    · Having a lager as being your flagship beer is not a ‘winning’ strategy for a brewery in a hip section of Brooklyn.

    · The “rent is too damn high”

    · The Beer Geeks wanted beers in 16 ounce can (I am personally not a fan of the 16 x 4 format) and preferably hazy beers.

    It is sorta a shame what happened to Braven but they simply were not a ‘good fit’ for their local market.

    Cheers!
     
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  3. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,711) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    I totally agree with all of that, especially the rent! But what about the labels? Do labels really make a difference? Especially with all of these new labels? I've looked at a few and I could barely figure out who the brewer was and what the beer was. Is that "cool"?
     
  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Jim, you are posing that question to the wrong person. I recently posted in another thread that I find the 'new' artwork on 16 ounce cans very confusing - I can't figure out who the brewery is or what brand/type of beer is in the can.

    Maybe this is a generational thing? Maybe younger beer drinkers need 'impressionist' artwork to get excited enough to purchase the beer?

    @IPAExpert69

    Cheers!
     
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  5. jhavs

    jhavs Poo-Bah (1,717) Apr 16, 2015 New Hampshire
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    A decent amount of non-BA semi craft beer enthusiasts that I know have a tendency to buy beer with interesting or appealing labels. The label probably plays a larger role in purchase decisions for those that do not read a bunch of beer media.

    My sister in law tends to buy a lot of Lord Hobo beers, because she likes the labels. Even after I screeched in horror when she tried to hand me one from her fridge.
     
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  6. joerooster

    joerooster Initiate (31) May 15, 2018 Virginia

    A lot of labels I see now are more based around art and don't provide much info about the beer or if it does, it's in some small print somewhere on the back of the can. I'm not going to search the beer label to find out what style the beer is, I'll just pick up something else.
     
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  7. islay

    islay Aspirant (258) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota
    Trader

    "Like many others, Braven was part of the Gotham craft beer explosion that transformed New York from a craft beer backwater with three local production breweries in 2012, to a goldmine with more than 30 now. That number doubles when you factor in the extraordinary brewing going on in surrounding areas in Long Island, the Hudson Valley, and northern New Jersey."

    Wow, those numbers are piddly (if accurate). Those have to be some of the lowest per-capita brewery figures in the country among non-small cities, exempting some places with unfriendly laws, and they're awfully low per square mile as well. That ain't no goldmine; that's still a backwater. Obviously, the cost of doing business in New York City is through the roof, so I get it.

    Yes, labels matter a lot, along with various other aspects of marketing including artificial-scarcity-dependent special releases. Once you* realize that the driving force in the craft beer in the late '10s, especially in east coast urban areas, is a flood of inexperienced-to-beer scenesters who are heavily prone to hype and marketing, the contemporary craft beer market and style trends make a heckuvalot more sense than if you naively assume that most people are motivated mainly by the love of the liquid or are knowledgeable connoisseurs.

    * Take that as the generic "you," not specifically @NeroFiddled.
     
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  8. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,767) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    It is a definite trend here on BA:
     
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  9. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,851) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    A question then, given your knowledge, how does one determine the difference between artificial-scarcity-dependent special releases and limited-brewing-capacity-dependent special releases?
     
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  10. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,711) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Ahhh, yes, that's another part of it that I kind of understand but kind of don't understand, the "various other aspects of marketing including artificial-scarcity-dependent special releases".

    I think that these days that's starting to die down a bit, but I never really understood it, chasing beers that weren't even proven to be good.

    Myself, I'd have never even considered that as part of a business plan.
     
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  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Jim, if you utilize Tired Hands as a 'barometer' then it is indeed dying down in our area.

    Cheers!
     
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  12. islay

    islay Aspirant (258) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota
    Trader

    Well that's easy: Are they selling out quickly time after time? Are there any lines involved because people at least think they need to show up early to avoid an immediate sellout? If so, they're knowingly underpricing their product to generate artificial scarcity and the hype that accompanies it (or to avoid negative word-of-mouth). Limited supply coupled with high demand at ordinary prices should be met with high prices in the short term unless the producer intentionally wants to create a shortage.
     
  13. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,445) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
    Society

    Pretty easy...

    Do they have the capacity (including ingredients, barrels if applicable, etc.) to brew more?
    Yes -> artificial scarcity;
    No -> limited capacity
     
  14. islay

    islay Aspirant (258) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota
    Trader

    I'm sure there are a few Forrest Gump-types who stumble into artificial scarcity without marketing motives in mind from a combination of poor pricing strategy (from a purely market clearing standpoint) and dumb luck, but it's absolutely a very intentional business tactic in most cases. A head-turning long line and breathless posts here on BeerAdvocate and social media talking up a rare beer can be worth much more to a brewery in the long term than the short-term revenue sacrificed through artificially low pricing. Artificial scarcity functions a lot like annual parties that many breweries throw: They probably don't make much money on the events themselves, but they generate a lot of buzz and goodwill that buoy sales all year long.

    Every time someone is standing in line waiting or chasing trucks for a release, he should think, "I'm using my time to provide free marketing to this brewery" (as well as, "If the brewery simply doubled the price of this beer, it would price out the less committed consumers, and I could buy it at my leisure without having to waste hours of my time in a fucking line"). I agree that queuing -- thankfully from a consumer, cultural, and common sense standpoint -- seems to be on the wane.
     
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  15. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Defender (684) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    Label art/info is a big factor for me. If I can't read the brewery name/beer name/beer style/date code relatively quickly, I move on.
     
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  16. Mattttt

    Mattttt Initiate (55) Feb 20, 2018 New York
    Trader

    as a local, who lived within minutes of braven at the time, i can say what killed them was not standing up to competition. they didnt make anything that made me feel like i had to go there and try/buy it. its brutal but thats really all it comes down to.
     
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  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Which of the competing breweries did you prefer to visit/purchase from? What are your preferred beers styles and packaging (do you prefer 16 ounce cans)?

    Cheers!
     
  18. BeyondDescription

    BeyondDescription Disciple (315) Feb 9, 2009 New York

    What's wrong with Lord Hobo beers and their current price point right now in the regional scene? When you can get past the troll-like bashing I've read here, they have a good rating with the overall consensus of BA.
     
  19. CheapHysterics

    CheapHysterics Aspirant (222) Apr 1, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Maybe it's because I'm old too, but I also hate the majority of new labels. I think Maine brewing has about the best style of labels. I wish a lot more breweries would keep it that simple.[​IMG]
     
  20. islay

    islay Aspirant (258) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota
    Trader

    I too find Maine's labels aesthetically pleasing. I suspect they've played a huge role in the success of that brewery, both commercially and critically. I'm not saying Maine Beer Company doesn't make good beer, but I think the labels implant in drinkers' subconsciousness that they're consuming a sophisticated product, almost regardless of what's in the bottle. Keeping it simple and classy is as much marketing shtick as are the crazy colorful arty labels that have become so common on bottle shop shelves.
     
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  21. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (102) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    It's because the cans look great on Instagram in shallow depth of field shots, not because they're easy to pick out in a crowded cooler.
     
  22. ecpho

    ecpho Aspirant (243) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    I never had the desire to pick up a 6 pack of Braven as they seemed to me like a Brooklyn beer marketing company using a contract brewer. I can see how in our Instagram society they struggled by not offering cans and by not releasing near identical NEIPAs just with different labels and names on a weekly basis.
     
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  23. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,711) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Two great points here. I'd have probably felt the same way considering that they were contract brewing - why visit them if they're not even brewing the beer?

    And, separately, I'm really tired of the near identical NEIPAs, not just for can releases but in general. There's a brewery in my area that I won't name, but who has 3 NEIPAs on tap that taste just slightly different. What's the point of that? Would anyone put three APAs on tap that were almost exactly the same?
     
  24. beernuts

    beernuts Disciple (334) Jan 23, 2014 Virginia
    Trader

    Whether you like new label art or not, it definitely makes a difference. Labels are what create a brand identity to most consumers. Most people will not admit it but they tend to identify with and favor a product that they find aesthetically pleasing.
     
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  25. deadwolfbones

    deadwolfbones Initiate (102) Jun 21, 2014 Oregon

    Some of the newer breweries, like Brouwerij West and Highland Park, are killing it with the new-school designs. Clean but still eye-catching, despite not having a consistent brand identity.





    Others, maybe not so much.
     
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Amen!
    I am pretty sure you know the answer but... The Haze Bros are in constant search for the next new shiny thing. Providing them with three choices permits them to conduct their search and explore three 'different' new beers! The business plan of Tired Hands is predicated on this business model: 'advertise' that some spelt is used in beer A, 'highlight' that oats are used in beer B, etc.

    Cheers!
     
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  27. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,711) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
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    Haha! I wasn't thinking of Tired Hands, but yeah, I totally get that. And of course I see the money-making plan behind it, it just seems pretentious.

    I also thought, considering the size of the place I was at and how busy they were, did they just split one batch into three and add some extra hops and an odd ingredient to the second and third? I would not be surprised!
     
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  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Do you know the size of the brew kettle of this brewery? Aren't fermenters typically the same size or larger than the brew kettle?

    Cheers!
     
  29. NeroFiddled

    NeroFiddled Poo-Bah (10,711) Jul 8, 2002 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    7 bbl but seemingly with larger fermenters. They could ferment 14 bbls, and then split it between two or three tanks for a few days with additional hops or extras. It's not a bad idea if it allows you to put more beers up on your board - except that they're really similar. Timing out those other open tanks would be the only real issue.
     
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  30. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,445) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    I wouldn't call it pretentious... more like cynically manipulative.
     
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  31. tinoynk

    tinoynk Initiate (75) Sep 25, 2010 New York
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    There's 8 million people in NYC. That even dwarfs Chicago, which admittedly seems to have a pretty stacked brewery scene. But if our brewery per capita ratio was anywhere near even average, there'd be a brewery on like every other block. I'd love that, but it's not really realistic.

    As the article touched on, it was a total wasteland here for a while due to certain legal restrictions, but has exploded in a huge way in the last 5 or so years.
     
  32. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,012) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    “In November 2014, however, Gov. Cuomo signed the Craft New York Act, and selling beers at breweries became legal.”

    Another example of how government regulations (and their relief) can impact businesses.

    Cheers!
     
  33. islay

    islay Aspirant (258) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota
    Trader

    Sure, but only 30-something breweries in the New York City limits? That's about the number in Minneapolis* proper, which has one twentieth of the population and one fifth of the square mileage, and Minnesota only legalized taprooms in 2011. That's really remarkably limited. I do understand that high rents and challenging logistics along with cumbersome regulations make industrial operations such as breweries in the New York city limits uneconomical in most cases. The consumer demand probably exists to support well over 100 breweries in New York City at midwestern cost levels.

    * I'm not trying to brag about my hometown; that's just the market I know best. I'm a St. Paul guy at heart anyway.
     
  34. tinoynk

    tinoynk Initiate (75) Sep 25, 2010 New York
    Trader

    NYC is only about 460 square miles. I've been plenty of other places in this country, and I don't believe 1 brewery every 5 miles would be close to the norm. And if you consider that those 30 breweries are almost all concentrated in Brooklyn and Queens, that's probably about 25 breweries in a 275 square mile area, with about 5 million people.

    Also, the craft beer ecosystem here is as much about the bars as the breweries, especially since bars can actually afford to operate in Manhattan and the more populous areas of Brooklyn.

    Ultimately, I'm just bristling at the idea that the brewery per capita metric is any sort of indicator as to the beer scene here since the city is such an outlier in terms of population, density, economics, etc.
     
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  35. ecpho

    ecpho Aspirant (243) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    What is the point of this statement if there's no way to have midwest rents in NYC?
     
  36. islay

    islay Aspirant (258) Jan 6, 2008 Minnesota
    Trader

    That the dearth of breweries in New York City is not for lack of consumer interest. It's a supply-side, not a demand-side, phenomenon.
     
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  37. ecpho

    ecpho Aspirant (243) Mar 28, 2011 New York

    I think there are more than enough breweries in NYC and surrounding areas - maybe too many in fact. Plus just about everything is distributed here, we aren't lacking for options.
    We could always use more that make things besides pastry IPAs and half assed sours but I guess that's why Braven failed?
     
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  38. mambossa

    mambossa Disciple (370) Jun 30, 2015 Ohio
    Society

    At this point, the contract-brewed 4pks blend together and beers like Maine stand out. I’m all about well-designed packaging, but there needs to be restraint. As much as I like how Maine looks on the shelf compared to others, they still, in the nature of good design, have a terrible design haha.
     
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  39. Giantspace

    Giantspace Crusader (707) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    Love the labels and beer.

    Won’t pay the Price$

    Enjoy
     
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  40. Mattttt

    Mattttt Initiate (55) Feb 20, 2018 New York
    Trader

    -all of them
    -all of them
    -all of them
     
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