The Goat Rodeo

Life, Beers & Brewing in a secluded (and slightly off kilter) nook in Northern California

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A brewer's bed time story (part 2)

So where did we last leave off  ? Oh yes - "And the beer drinkers across the land were sad." well, sort of, but about the same time that the the regional breweries were going the way of T-Rex  an unusual thing was happening. The vacuum left by the rapidly vanishing regionals sucked in some strange flotsam and fuzzy from another beer universe.  They were small, loud, unsophisticated, wild and unpleasantly young; they wore funny clothes, sometimes ....well .... they smelled odd, and they were far hairier than one might hope to see in one of the big boy's gatherings. They brought with them thier own products that were as odd as their makers appearances - and they always insisted on sharing it. No one was sure what to make of them and to be sure no one really took them seriously. They were a oddity, a novelty (really something of a Joke). But there they were and like it or not one thing was for certain it WAS hard to ignore them. 

At first they were eschewed, then the more persistent of them was grudgingly allowed to congregate and wander among the initiated. These new ones, they mostly tried to behave. On occassion they tried to participate, but usually they were mostly ignored. These new ones they were always asking questions - like a child - newer completely satisfied with the answers they received. And always they brought their wares. It went on like this for some time; the distance between the Giants and these new comers remaining. 

Then one day, as if drifting on a wind from a far and distant place came a memory, a memory of an earlier time, befor the fall of so many regional breweries, it dawned on one of the initiated Giants, that these new ones were doing something that most of the initiated had once done themselves  - these new ones, they were creating something, something they loved. 

The Giants began to be more interested in what these new comers were up to. They started to interact with them more and on a more of an even field. Discussions bubbled up here and there, ideas were exchanged, conversations were had. But still the new comers were just an interesting oddity. And for a time it went on like this. 

Time pasted. The older parts of the initiated began to retire or some passed on. Soon these new ones were active participants, some of them even taking charge in some areas. And it came to pass that people outside the circle began to take notice of the new ones. The public seemed far more interested in what the new ones were doing and they began to ask them about it. And this gave a nice shiny new face to the whole, both old and new, the giant and the small. The new ones were called micros, because after all that term seemed to fit, no one of them was larger than an bug (and easily as squash-able). The public seemed to love them and besides what harm could they do - they were so small. And for a time it went on like this. 

Time passed and these new ones - these micros - they began to grow and to multiply. So much so that soon their overcommsumption threatened to topple the whole industry. The giants had learned to survive on so very little, but the micros, small though they were, had an insatiable appetite. Soon they were consuming an ever greater portion of the pie, but what could be done. The giants thought about choking them out (while they were still small and not yet strong) but  the people might notice and then turn against them. A few of the Micro had grown bigger than even those old regionals, and the public had fallen so deeply in love with them too.  

The giant were growing older and as they did they began to look duller in comparison to these new micros - and is want to happen; as they grew older, they began to shrink some. Just a tiny bit at first, but they were shrinking, and these micros were growning - and no longer just a little bit. And After the giants had worked so hard to drown the old regional like the decrepit grandparents they were, now almost unwittingly, they had allowed this new brand of trouble to flourish right under their noses.  The micros were no longer the cute (somewhat unwashed) hippy dippy types they were at the start, now they had become a serious issue. And maybe worst of all some of the giants own people had gone over to the other side and now they were micros. It was getting very serious. Something had to be done, but what ? 

A brewer's bed time story (part 1)

Once upon a time, in a place not so far away, there were a great many regional breweries strewn across the land, and each of these breweries made different unique beers with different flavors for each of their local areas. Each of these regional brewers had different beers and different brands and different marketing to offer. The local beers appealed to the people who lived in the area. The beers were fresh and the money made and spent on the beers remained in the community. And these regional breweris were strong in their home markets.

And life was good.

Then one day the Regional brewers looked outside of the local market and saw other regional breweries and even a couple of national brands. And they decided they wanted to be bigger. They expanded their sales beyond their region with the hope of becoming a national brand. But as they did so they had to make their beers more and more standardized so that they would appeal to a broader and broader spectrum of the new markets they were entering.

Then, One day, they found that they were all making the same beer – the same beers as all the other regional breweries, and the same beer as the national brands too. It seemed that many of the regional breweries had the same idea and at the same time – they were all trying to expand their markets and as they all did so they came into competition with each other - and into competition with the national brands as well. All those regional breweries and the national brewer's brands fighting for the same market shelf space and tap handles.

But what separated all these breweries from one another ? What different did they have to offer ? Why should consumers want to buy THIER beer and not the other brands ? (I’ll give you a hint, it was not the beers, because the beers were all the same now) - it was the price.

But - These once unique regional breweries found they could not compete on price, quality or marketing with the bigger national brands and (because they bladed up their own beer to appeal to broader and broader spectrum of the market) they had nothing interesting or unique to offer in the way of their own brands. Now it was obvious - they could never compete with the bigger, more consistant, better financed and better marketed national brands.

Woe were the regional brewers - what had they done ? They were all spread so thin now and they had no way to compete, their home markets were no longer strong (invaded by other regionals and national brands).

And so - they all died.

Some were bought up by foreign investors and bled dry, others collapsed under their own weight, their innards sold off as scrap, their shells converted to apartments for yuppies, and a few (the lucky few ?) were bought out by the bigger national brands who made the once proud regional brands into cut rate “value” brands . There were no more regional brewers left.

And the beer drinkers across the land were sad.

The end