Too many Breweries? MN

Discussion in 'Midwest' started by paytonpowell, Jun 29, 2012.

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  1. paytonpowell

    paytonpowell Initiate (0) Jul 19, 2011 Minnesota

    I am curious to see what this sudden influx of breweries will do to the market and how the market will react to all the varied options. Some breweries out there are doing incredibly well for themselves and produce such wonderful brews but there are others that, at least to me, feel a little hurried or sub-par altogether, and worse yet there are some that are completely underrated and deserve more hype than they get and those which are overrated.

    How will all these breweries thrive in a state that (while drinking the second most beer in the country, and tenth most craft beer) has a fraction of the population? Hardly any of these beers make it across state lines, beyond Surly what kind of market potential does MN Craft beer have across the country, even regionally? My overall worry is that like many restaurants we will see breweries (great and not so great) shutter their doors due to a quick over-saturation of the market. I think with all the focus on what is new new new, the craft community has little focus on the sustainability of this kind of growth and rapid expansion or what that may look like long term, what are the long term goals? Our oldest craft breweries still aren't on par with the likes of Deschutes or Boulevard or Great Divide or Founders in terms of market share or accessibility nationally; I personally think that for new small local/community oriented breweries to further establish themselves bigger and older breweries should start reaching out into new markets to make room. So as drinkers (and brewers) I say yes support your local brewery, vote with your dollar, but encourage them to dream bigger and do more. I have yet to see any collaborations among brewers in our fair state and I would love to see Summit and Schells and Surly start to trickle out regionally making room for even more little guys and better yet really waving our flag to the rest of the country.

  2. minnesotaryan

    minnesotaryan Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2010 Minnesota

    Summit has some national reach, I know you can find their beer as far south as Texas and perhaps Florida?
  3. 13mikey

    13mikey Initiate (0) Aug 3, 2009 Minnesota

    You want Summit, Schell's and Surly to distribute widely and narrowly so that they can provide less-fresh beer to people in other states and in the process lowering the supply for those of us who enjoy their beers because they're local and awesome so that the little guys can have a better chance of making it?

    How about the new guys make beer that's good enough for us to want to buy instead?
    bflattum and minnesotaryan like this.
  4. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (3,497) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Two points that are weird: expanding distribution of our good locals won't "make room for the little guys". It would just crowd other markets that are already beginning to swell with loca/regional/national beer that ranges from fantastic to blech.

    And I agree with 13mikey. The new breweries, & a few that have been around for a year or two, should focus more on making good beer than dreaming big. There are several that, if they even thought for an instant about going out of state, would never make it because they'd be pushing a mediocre product to...where? Wisconsin? Maybe Iowa.

    Leaving aside I disagree with the entire post. :wink: I'd much rather the future look like New Glarus (stay focused on keeping your state/locals happy) & Dave's BrewFarm (put out a couple good beers & experiment with killer stuff in your tiny basement/taproom) & Fulton (distribute locally & build a great taproom) than our have our locals muscle up.
    psychotia likes this.
  5. Coveralls

    Coveralls Initiate (0) Sep 27, 2008 Minnesota

    They're will be a shakeout at some point. I think Minnesota can support a lot of additional breweries, but I think they may be coming online too quickly and too closely together. I see a lot of consolidation in the future. That strikes me as the best possible scenario actually.

    The most important thing for a new brewery to do is make quality product. They also need to market well and have at least one person in the organization with a solid business background who really knows what the business side is all about. Those that don't have all three are going to have the most difficult time ahead.
    paytonpowell likes this.
  6. UMNbeerhunter

    UMNbeerhunter Disciple (399) Oct 21, 2010 Minnesota

    I think there is going to be a new brewery saturation here in the next few years if the trend continues. There have been a dozen new operations that have started in the last year, not to mention that if you have been to any of the beer fests lately you'll run into another half dozen guys handing out business cards telling you to look for their new brewery thats opening in the next few months.

    That said I think its a good thing. The more the merrier. In the end those brewers that are making a good product will survive and those that don't will fall by the wayside. I see our market becoming a survival of the fittest kind of place as peoples $ become more spread out among all the breweries and people eventually migrate towards those more exceptional products. I do see a lot of room for brewers that want to get into a niche market like making sours or all belgian beers though.

    Anyway what I mean to say is the more breweries we have the better chance we have at having one thats world class and all the other will either just limp along or die off.
    paytonpowell likes this.
  7. incutrav

    incutrav Initiate (0) Jan 16, 2007 Minnesota

    My prediction of the first breweires to go under....Staples Mill and Flat Earth.
    paytonpowell likes this.
  8. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (3,497) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    That sounds like a whole 'nuther topic, & a cruel one at that. But I'd play. :sunglasses:
    incutrav likes this.
  9. Yulles

    Yulles Initiate (0) Apr 12, 2009 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I'll raise you a Lucid. And speaking of them, the only thing that matters is making a quality product.
    paytonpowell likes this.
  10. minnesotaryan

    minnesotaryan Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2010 Minnesota

    can there be too much beer? I submit that there cannot.
  11. RKPStogie

    RKPStogie Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I agree with Staples Mill.
    yamar68 and paytonpowell like this.
  12. KarlHungus

    KarlHungus Poo-Bah (2,919) Feb 19, 2005 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I see your Lucid, and raise you a Boom Island. At least Lucid is charging a fair price for its mediocre/bad beer. Boom Island is grossly overcharging for lackluster beers. I see them going down before Lucid for just that reason. As for Flat Earth, I've always liked most of their beers, and would buy them frequently if they came in six pack form. Cygnus X-1 is one of the best porters I've ever tasted.
    motorhed likes this.
  13. minnesotaryan

    minnesotaryan Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2010 Minnesota

    on an aside, Steel Toe is too good to fail.
  14. Torgo

    Torgo Initiate (181) Dec 19, 2008 Minnesota

    Steel Toe did it right from the get go. Well priced (and very well done) bombers @ under $5, then a few solid BA beers which warranted the hefty price tag. I really look forward to everything else they plan on doing.
  15. KarlHungus

    KarlHungus Poo-Bah (2,919) Feb 19, 2005 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    So is Harriet.
  16. mnbearsfan

    mnbearsfan Aspirant (246) Dec 25, 2009 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    My belief, if the brewer from Flat Earth (he is gone) keeps making the infused porters and bottles them, they will have a year long buyer. As far as the breweries that are doing it right..Steel Toe is Tops, Lift Bridge is doing a great job too. Surly, please can Bandwagon....I so enjoy that. You hit a home run with that, no pun intended. It is one of the best bers I have had in the last year.

    I am excited to try Indeed, like that it is in cans.

    In fairness, I have tried many MN beers that I did not like and will never buy again ~ if that brewery has a new offering, I will always try it. Hate to be negative, but find what you like and support them with you dollar!
  17. paytonpowell

    paytonpowell Initiate (0) Jul 19, 2011 Minnesota

    I am glad to see such well thought out responses to this topic. This is my semi-sober reply:

    Market share is everything; the moment that Fulton and Lift Bridge bottled Surly shares dropped, plain and simple. This to me however isn't about competition it is about worthiness of success. I heartily agree that certain breweries are turning out less than satisfactory product many of them mentioned above (there are more bad ones come on fellers/ladies, think North) but what about the good ones that deserve more attention. Ovaldes Farm makes stellar beer but is underrated because there is not hype machine behind it. But with over a dozen brew operations coming on line in the next year and a half how can that growth sustain itself? I agree that natural market evolutionary die off will happen but I also see the die off of good and bad breweries not just bad.

    I thoroughly disagree that opening towards national markets will lead to less beer here and weaker beer elsewhere. It is all about focus. Do breweries want to gamble with the market and distribute and brew at a level that requires a third tier (i.e. Surly) or do they want to be simply destinations. I do think that local brew operations are the future, every community should have its own functioning brewery; but that is not possible right now. If the bigger breweries expand (and I am sorry but beer goes stale in a matter of quarter years not days; less fresh beer? stop buying the hype) they become less dependent upon local markets and think about it this way: is your stand-by Fat Tire or EPA, Two Hearted or Furious, sure we all love the out of state stuff but we love to buy local too! Destroying other local markets isn't a reality and is a bit arrogant as a thought.
  18. morimech

    morimech Poo-Bah (2,900) Nov 6, 2006 Minnesota

    I see a lot of room for growth in the state. If the breweries produce good beer at a decent price, there will be room on the shelves and no shortage of customers at your brewpub or taproom. Unfortunately we are already experiencing some mediocre and poor breweries in the state. It is obvious they are not all going to be winners.

    I can see stores featuring mostly local and regional offerings instead of out of state breweries. Sort of like Michigan and to a lesser extent Wisconsin where breweries just do not want to distribute to those states because it is so hard to compete with local beer.
    Ungertaker likes this.
  19. Ungertaker

    Ungertaker Devotee (447) Apr 30, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Judging by the overall sentiment (and the fact that their 1000-bottle limited releases can still be found on the shelves months after being released), Staples Mill has essentially already went under.
  20. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (3,497) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Good topic!

    "Craft Beer" as a segment is growing rapidly, & while it's still a tiny sliver of the overall pie, it grew 15% in 2011 & another 15% in 2010. So your market share comment is wrong in a couple respects: one, it's not "everything", it's just one piece of how any business measures itself. And second, it's incorrect that "Surly shares dropped" when other locals started bottling. They still can't make enough beer to even come close to satisfying the market just in the metro, much less the entire state. When the market as a whole is exanding, everyone can win without "competing" with each other as in a traditional economic sense.

    That's also how the growth will sustain itself. However, if that 15% growth becomes 3%, or minus 5%, you're going to see a shakeout, & it'll come fairly quickly.

    For a perfect example of this, look east. New Glarus is still expanding & growing, built a gorgeous new brewery a couple years ago, & the entire time, new breweries were popping up like dandelions. They're not competing for market share or anything else in a traditional sense because the market is growing rapidly. One thing that I'll find interesting is to see if the "Love Thy Brother's Brewery" attitude continues once there is some fallout.

    I think this is just a matter of that people have different priorities. I'd prefer breweries in Minnesota, especially the good ones, just continue to concentrate on our market: it's a win/win situation in my eyes.

    But I can see how your thought leads to good breweries spreading too. The Bruery has put up an interesting model: make big, expensive, hyped beers, & sell small quantities of them all over the country. It seems to be working, & good for them. But you also hear the inevitable complaints from locals (Goose Island, Deschutes, Firestone Walker, you name the big brewery it's happened) that they're sending all this good beer out of state while the brewery "forgets the people that got them where they are" & sends regular or low allocations locally. I'll freely admit it's a tad selfish, but I'd prefer that Surly et al continue to focus their efforts here, on us, rather than some liquor stores in Tennessee. Frankly, they're doing just fine, should for the foreseeable future, & I don't give a rat's ass about Tennessee. :stuck_out_tongue:

    Either way we have some world-class breweries here. I just hope the recent-and-coming wave doesn't make such shitty product that it turns people away who might otherwise have turned into beer lovers.
  21. RKPStogie

    RKPStogie Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I agree with everything that's been said.

    When more local breweries are producing great beer, I find myself buying more of their product and less of an out of town beer. I too have been disappointed in some of the newer local brews like Boom Island, Lucid, and Leech Lake.
  22. dj420

    dj420 Initiate (13) Aug 9, 2007 Minnesota

    Leech Lake...I have tried their beers 2 yrs at the St Cloud Craft Beer Expo...they taste like it was brewed with the water from Leech Lake; complete with dead fish & Loon poop.
    motorhed likes this.
  23. jera1350

    jera1350 Poo-Bah (2,093) Dec 15, 2007 Minnesota

    I was talking to Jim, the beer guy at Blue Max, the other day. He said imports are in a big sales decline there so he will be cutting down that inventory to make more room for american craft beer.

    Bottom line is that the beer needs to be good and needs to be priced fairly.

    Also, people will need to support their neighborhood breweries just like what is happening at Harriet right now. The couple of times I've been to the tap room I think there were a minimum of twenty bikes parked outside. Seems like this will happen for places like Indeed and Dangerous Man when they open too if they have a solid product.
    LittleGus and morimech like this.
  24. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (1,898) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota

    I know this is an old topic, but I just read through it, as I wasn't on the site much in June. I felt like bumping it because I have been thinking along the same lines as most of these comments, even the contradictory ones because I am unsure what will happen.

    However, I wanted to add one thing. I think that Brau Brothers is really here to stay, as their new lineup is light years better than what they were making even two or three years ago. Plus, their just released Hopsession is flat out incredible (and I know that most agree who have had it). The point is that Brau did make some mediocre or even shitty beer, and turned it around. Maybe that provides some hope for breweries like Brainerd, Leech Lake, Lucid and Boom Island (I actually haven't had any of those beers as I have been scared off by reviews). Or is the competition too much this time to give a brewery a few years to come into their own, such as Brau Brothers?

    Oh, and now Third Street is officially in the market since this thread was active a month ago. Solid stuff, but can it stand out? The value component is certainly there ($8 six packs), which many of these new breweries seem to be missing.
  25. mnbearsfan

    mnbearsfan Aspirant (246) Dec 25, 2009 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    I think those breweries that produce 4/6 packs will be around a bit longer. Also, those who are in an area like Leech and Brainerd will be able to survive, the locals will support them. I remember my father-in-law drinking Brau Bros years ago and he lives in SW Minnesota. Beer has always been a "local thing" and after everyone and his brother tries to put out a product, it will all shake out and the ones who are good and have a niche will survive
  26. mnbuffalo

    mnbuffalo Aspirant (235) Jul 26, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I shake my head at the New Glarus hype. I keep trying their offerings and really want to find it amazing, but feel the mystic of a small, rural brewery only available in WI is fueling the love for that beer. I'd drink Rush River any day over anything from New Glarus.

    Back to the topic, I think we have three world class brewers in Minnesota and one outstanding brewer.

    Two of my three world class offerings won't surprise anyone- 1. Surly 2. Town Hall
    The 3rd in the class Harriet. West Side and Wodan Weizen are light years ahead of their other offerings, but those two are my two local favorites at the moment. An employee told me a few weeks ago they are looking at bottling small batches in wine bottles. I think capacity is an issue now, but Surly did it right by growing organically.

    I know it isn't new, but Summit is outstanding and people need to pay attention to what they have been releasing lately. 25 Year and Black Ale were impressive, and Saga is really stellar.

    Steel Toe is quality and should make it, but I feel a lot of the celebration is fueled by the guys at the store across the freeway.
    wunnie likes this.
  27. bsp77

    bsp77 Poo-Bah (1,898) Apr 27, 2008 Minnesota

    Very much agree about Summit. Most of the recent Summit offerings have been outstanding, either in regards to their style or just flat out great period. This includes most of the Unchained series, the new Summer Ale, and of course Saga.

    Also, Harriet, please don't do wine bottles. Way too expensive, even compared to bombers that are almost the same size. I understand their Belgians are relatively expensive to make, but can't they just make four packs for like $12? That would be a better deal. And the Pilsner and Hefe should be cheaper. Actually, it would be cool if the Hefe was put in a proper 500ml bottle, like Weihenstephaner or Franziskaner, but that probably is not an easy setup from an ops perspective.
  28. minnesotaryan

    minnesotaryan Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2010 Minnesota

    I think the celebration is fueled by the awesome beer.
  29. mnbuffalo

    mnbuffalo Aspirant (235) Jul 26, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    What Steel Toe selections do you prefer?
  30. maximum12

    maximum12 Poo-Bah (3,497) Jan 21, 2008 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Size 7 kicks major beer geek butt.
  31. minnesotaryan

    minnesotaryan Initiate (0) Dec 27, 2010 Minnesota

    rain maker, size 7, before the dawn. all the others are great too.
    laymansbeerfan and dc55110 like this.
  32. dc55110

    dc55110 Aspirant (282) Oct 24, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

  33. mnbuffalo

    mnbuffalo Aspirant (235) Jul 26, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    I've had 7 and the red. I think it is good. I'm just glad it isn't 2000 anymore and I'm not buying Stella, Guiness, and Blue Moon, or begging people visiting Montana to bring me back Alaskan.

    I do remember as a college student ordering an Anchor Steam around 1995 in Superior at the Anchor Bar and just being taken back. I spent time in Alaska in 1999/2000 and saw there was life beyond Honey Weiss.

    I'm thankful that I can buy good local beer. Even Surly canned within 24-48 hours in some instances.
  34. grantcty

    grantcty Initiate (86) Feb 17, 2008 Minnesota

    Thanks for the laugh, I needed that.
    Ish1 and Chaz like this.
  35. incutrav

    incutrav Initiate (0) Jan 16, 2007 Minnesota

    No doubt. Try Black top, Moon Man, Dancin Man, Oktoberfest and any of the Thumbprints/750's and report back.
    Ish1 and GeezLynn like this.
  36. RKPStogie

    RKPStogie Initiate (0) Nov 4, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Tops for me: Schell's, Surly, Summit, Steel Toe, Lift Bridge

    Enjoying more and more: Brau Bros, Fulton, Harriet

    I will not drink any more: Staples Mill, Leech Lake

    Second chance (eventually): Lucid, Boom Island, Flat Earth, Third Street
  37. mnbuffalo

    mnbuffalo Aspirant (235) Jul 26, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Had them all, and many Thumbprints. Good, but not enough for me to mention the brewery in the same breath as Bell's, Deschutes, Surly, or Maine. But New Glarus is always in the mix when people discuss elite brewers. Put a Summit Black next to Black Top and compare quality.
  38. grantcty

    grantcty Initiate (86) Feb 17, 2008 Minnesota

    I hate to get into a subjective argument over which tastes better because I couldn't disagree with you more on most of your choices. But that's your tastebuds and my tastebuds and we're never going to agree. I thought Black Top was better than Summit and I liked them both.

    My comment was on hype. I guess you could say the average Joe sixpack "hypes" New Glarus cause they like Spotted Cow. I definitely don't see that much hyping on here. Especially not compared to the breweries you just listed.

    Edit: What do you mean by "quality"?
  39. mnbuffalo

    mnbuffalo Aspirant (235) Jul 26, 2012 Michigan
    Beer Trader

    Quality, I meant New Glarus consistently appearing on top 10 brewery shortlists.
  40. grantcty

    grantcty Initiate (86) Feb 17, 2008 Minnesota

    I don't know what lists you're referring to, but clearly many people must think they are "quality" if they're on so many lists. I usually take those lists with a grain of a salt. I don't think they're any measure of hype either.
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