From Away: Non Local Beer In Maine August 02 2016, 0 Comments
I recently read a great article on GoodBeerHunting.com entitled "You're Not From Around Here Are You? -- Imports In The Age of Local" that was an analysis of how imported beer has fared in the current locavore movement in craft beer. It got me thinking about imported in another way, just just from another country, but from even another state. Here's my $.02 on how that's playing out in our little shop.
Maine has always been a Buy Local state, it's one of the things I love the most about my home state. The support of locals during those cold non-tourist months help breweries, restaurants and shops survive, and those businesses in turn help make Portland and Maine a destination for beer, food and shopping. But the past couple years has seen that Buy Local ethos shift in to overdrive within beer. We hear from sales reps from other states that Maine is a tough market if you aren't from here, akin to Vermont. Part of that is intuitive, with the craze of drinking IPA's that are minutes old, those IPA's can't be shipped across the country. But for styles like sour/wild ales and other beers that can handle some age, something else is at work.
Since March of this year, only 2 beers out of our top 25 best sellers didn't come from the State of Maine. The sole outlier was Lord Hobo, located about two hours south in Woburn, Massachusetts. So clearly, at least in our four walls, customers have a local preference. I know most of you are yelling, "because we have great beer in Maine", and we obviously do. Bier Cellar has been a champion of local brewers since we opened our doors in 2012. But does this explain 100% of these trends? There are styles/beers produced outside of Maine that are superior to those being produced inside our border. I know, blasphemy, right?
What does this mean for brewers from outside (and inside increasingly) the Maine market in 2016? You better have your game on lock. You better make a world class example of your style. Your quality control, marketing, packaging, social media better be on point. The classics (Orval, Saison Dupont, Rodenbach) and our shop favorites (De La Senne, Kerkom, Blaugies, Trou du Diable, and more) all have a place on our shelves. But every other inch is being fought for every day. Everytime a new brand launches, or we bring in new beer, another beer or brewery loses it's spot. It's great for the consumer, because as that happens, and we bring in better beer and other beers don't make the cut, the quality just goes up. Curating a beer store in 2016 means painting with much higher quality brushes and paint then we did in 2012.
Never has there been a better time to be a beer drinker than in 2016. We just gently suggest that every once in awhile, let your palate leave the borders of the great State of Maine, you might find a higher appreciation for the beers produced within those borders.