Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Big Box Store Brand Beer? Say it ain't so!
I don't really like the idea of big box companies jumping into the craft brew market, but that's just what Harris Teeter is planning to do. Besides the obvious reason I don't like the idea (less shelf space), it could also slow the craft brewery movement currently underway. When a company is primarily concerned with profits, they look for short cuts. Cutting corners almost always produces lower quality beer loaded with adjuncts (like corn & rice) instead of natural, high-quality ingredients. If I put my brown ale next to a harris teeter (or a michelob/budweiser/miller/coors etc) brown ale, and if their beer is $7.99 and mine is $9.99, the consumer is going to go with the cheaper one. If the cheaper one sucks...do you think they're going to come back to the $9.99 brown ale from Hob Knob? Of course not.
I think it is also a bit deceptive to put a different label on it other than Harris Teeter (instead calling it 'barrel trolley'). It's obvious why you would change the brand name. No one's going to buy a harris teeter beer, or sam's choice beer, or kroger brand beer.
Craft breweries do one thing. They focus on producing unique, high quality, fresh beers (makes my mouth water just thinking about it!). The margins are ok, but not huge by any means - unless - you skip on the quality, slap a label on it with a 'crafty' name, and an interesting label, and market it as craft beer. That's what I'm afraid we'll run into if big organizations try to take over the market from the little guy. At Hob Knob, we have one goal for our first year. We're looking to try to break even during our first year of business! Profits are important, but if I wouldn't drink what I'm producing, I certainly wouldn't create some pretty marketing label and catchy slogan and try to market it. I'd rather see us place in the top 3 of a few beer competitions.
With that being said, I don't plan on boycotting HT or anything silly like that (they're actually the best grocery store chain in my opinion). Of course, I could be totally wrong, and HT might produce some high quality brews. I plan on trying their Belgian white because I'm a fan of blue moon, and it sounds similar in characteristics. I'm skeptical of the quality of their product because every store brand I've ever tried, while being cheaper, has also been a lower quality and value than the original brand. Think cereals, vegetables, etc. I guess we'll see. One things for certain, that's one less area on the beer shelves for a smaller guy to come into the market, because they certainly aren't going to take shelf space away from the big box brew companies like inBev (formerly Annheiser-Busch - now owned by a foreign company) even though they have singles, 4 packs, 6 packs, 12 packs (in bottles AND cans), 18 packs, 24 packs, and more. One of the harsh realities of the fierceness of competition in the beer marketplace.
Posted by Notorious L.E.V. at 10:19 AM