Saturday, March 29, 2014

Coming to a tap near you...

I'm not exactly sure what is at play, but it seems Sapporo / Sleeman (same company if you didn't know) are putting a push on in these parts to grab a share of the taps at local bars. One pub I like to go to is installing a new draft setup soon, adding three taps: two Sleeman, and Sapporo. I was at another restaurant / pub just over a week ago, and a beer rep was in, dropping off tap handles and Sapporo glasses. A co-owner was talking to servers, enthusiastically, about how they'd like Sapporo, a new-to-them light beer.

I'm always happy to see growth in beer around here at all, but, of course, I always want it my way and figure I may know a little better (come on, what Islander doesn't). Is Sapporo just footing the bill for these expansions? How are they enticing more places to take them on? I can't, off the top of my head, name a bad Sleeman beer, and Sapporo is OK, but, really... they're largely bland. If you want to attract new patrons with something different & good, why go with selections that are much like every other brew from a large commercial operation?

To support those places listed above, they both have two taps from our newest local brewery, Barnone, one has been bringing in good things from Pump House for over a year, and the other tried out some Garrison beers (why didn't they let anyone know they had the Imperial IPA on tap once?). To keep pushing them, though, why not try Unibroue if you're going to go with the Sleeman group of breweries? We have three of their offerings in bottles here now, and, overall, their beers are more interesting, appeal to more different drinkers, and, to be blunt, are just better.

One definition of insanity is doing the same things repeatedly & expecting different results. If you run a bar or restaurant, and want new customers, or more repeat customers, why offer them more of the same unremarkable brews that surround us all?

4 comments:

  1. I can’t say for sure what is happening, but I can guarantee you that money talks. The big guys obviously have deeper pockets when it comes to sales and marketing, so it’s usually as simple as that. My guess is Sleeman is gearing up for the large influx of tourist expected during the 150th anniversary celebrations.

    Here’s my thoughts on why the push on blander mainstream beers – People still want them, they significantly out sell craft, and the breweries make more money on these brands. Offering some variety in the form of the more flavour craft brands is important, but it’s the thirst quenching mainstream brands that pays the bills for both bars and breweries– Particularly during a hot PEI summer.

    Despite the fact that Unibroue and Pumphouse might have more appeal to drinkers like you or I, they’re not for everybody - “Better” is a relative term. Seeing as how PEI has always been our family’s vacation retreat, I would dearly love to see some quality offerings in the smaller tourist communities outside of Charlottetown and Summerside. Garrison, Pumphouse and Gahan are my ideal, but I wouldn’t thank you for a Bud Light Platinum or Picaroons.

    C.J.

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    1. CJ, I totally get it. I understand that they're more profitable when measuring them up against other "better" beers. It's just frustrating. Overall, I wonder how profitable it really is in the non-tourist months. At my usual Friday haunt, I almost never buy beer anymore, when (before my conversion to better beer) I used to have a couple or so every week. Or, I can think of a place in town - the one who's been bringing in Pump House and also has Barnone - that I may never go to otherwise, but will go to on a semi-regular basis for beer and food.

      FYI, The Landing in Tyne Valley is a great spot. They were early adopters of Barnone, also have Gahan, a few others on tap, and may have some different things in terms of bottles (but just from the LCC). They even brought me in to do a beer tasting night last fall.

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  2. Thanks for the tip on The Landing. I'll have to check it out this summer. We generally stay along the north shore; anywhere between Malpeque and Souris. Our favorite haunt in Charlottetown, by far, is the Pilot House - Great food and beer selection (Barnone included). When just out with the guys it's Baba's (spelling?) and the Old Triangle.

    CJ

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    1. The Pilot House removed the fermenter from their pub. I haven't found out yet (laziness, really, as the server I asked didn't know) if they aren't fermenting someone else's wort anymore, or if they just moved it to the basement or something. I think one of "their" beers are still on tap.

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