You may have heard recent news about a certain beverage group’s plan to incentivize distributors that push certain “yellow beer” brands. Then again, maybe as a craft beer enthusiast you don’t pay attention to what non craft beer brands are doing. Either way, if you love craft beer it’s important to learn why where you buy your beer matters. Buying craft beer online, direct from the brewery that made it is an option that many enthusiasts are asking for. Although this method of distribution is rather under utilized, it serves as a way to help support the craft beer industry.
As craft beer’s popularity continues to rise, big beer is trying to handle the situation by leveraging greed. Will this work? Yes. There are several distributors that would love that extra cash and don’t care about the beer portfolio of the accounts they service. Can we blame them for trying to make a dollar? Not really. But when these establishments stray from carrying craft beers to bulk up on the non-craft beers, what will happen? Will their sales suffer? Quite possibly. This is exactly one of the reasons why this incentive model won’t work. These establishments that will have to make the decision about which beer to carry simply want one thing: happy customers.
How can craft breweries help win the distribution “battle”? They can start by shipping direct to their fans that are demanding their product. Over the past few years, the demand for buying craft beer online has grown from thousands of monthly searches to well over a million. Enter in the craft beer black market. Limited release and hard to find bottles are purchased and “traded” at sometimes more than 1,000% of their original selling price. If you’re a brewer – wouldn’t you like a piece of that revenue? When breweries ship from their production facilities, directly to their consumer, they have the greatest control of how the beer is handled. They also have the ability to reduce bloated beer prices that consumers find on retail shelves.
Buying craft beer online is an easy way for consumers to get their favorite beer when they can’t walk into the tasting room and grab one. Although every state has their own rules and regulations regarding self distribution and shipments entering their state, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for interested breweries. The more breweries that start to distribute directly to consumers, the less leverage large beverage groups have to manipulate the system.