Friday, December 11, 2009

2009, In Their Words--Part 4

Yesterday, you heard thoughts and opinions from Howard Weintraub and Suzanne Woods. Closing out the week here today (chosen in random order) are Jim Crane, Joe Sixpack/Don Russell, and Arthur Etchells. Please be sure to click the links and visit their sites. It shows that you came from The Brew Lounge and that you care about their work :)

Jim Crane (Proprietor, Goshen Beverage in West Chester, PA) "I fear the recession has hit the beer biz. Sales for what is usually a good month were very disappointing. Perhaps it is people watching the dollars more closely, perhaps they are finding better prices by going across state lines, perhaps beer in supermarkets have put the nail into the coffin for PA beer distributors. The availability of beers from around the country and the world, as well as proliferation of brands is something the consumer says they want...I can't tell you how many times someone browses through the 500+ different beers that I have in stock, then asks for Fat Tire or Shiner Bock or Moose Drool, then walks out with Yuengling or Lionshead or Bud Light about a disconnect.......Meanwhile the pioneers of the craft business suffer because the craft customer wants "the new beer". Flagships like Stoudts APA and Pilsner are great beers, but the sales of those items would not lead you to believe it. In my opinion the craft consumer needs to be thankful for the wealth and breadth of great local beers available in our back yard, and do their best to insure that when the smoke clears they can still find these great beers on the shelves. Meaning support your local businesses, both brewers and retailers, and be careful what you wish for. Craft beer from China could be around the corner. As a retailer I will continue to stock what my consumer wants to buy, plus what I know to be some of the best beers in the world, all the while juggling space and code issues."
Joe Sixpack (Philadelphia's long-time, award-winning beer writer and promoter posing as Don Russell...too many links to include, start with "2009 was the unfortunate victim of 2008. Last year, I published two books, helped launch Philly Beer Week, spent serious time in Denver, Portland, New York, San Francisco & D.C., got stupid drunk at Oktoberfest in Munich and cheered my ass off on Broad Street. It really couldn't get much better than that, so this year wasn't so bad, but... Thank god the beer was excellent. Burton Baton on draft at Tria, the new Yards IPA, fresh Southampton Double White after picking hops on Long Island, Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, the porter at Manayunk, the R5 beer crawl during PBW with a small, tight group of beer lovers - those were my highlights. Next year? Philly Beer Week will step up to an altogether bigger, greater level. As much as I love the flattery of no fewer than 20 other cities copying our beer week, they ain't seen nuttin' yet."
Arthur Etchells (mastermind behind Philadelphia's food and beverage wealth of information, Foobooz) "2009 was.... The year Philadelphia demanded to be known as the America's Best Beer Drinking City. The second Philly Beer Week was the embodiment of that claim but the echoes of those ten days can be seen on draft lists across the area. Breweries from Colorado, California and Michigan have become common place at Philadelphia bars as these brewers have realized Philadelphia is a great market of beer lovers looking to devour the latest one off or hard to find beers from the likes of Avery, Russian River or Founders. 2010 will be.... 2010 will continue to see more brewers bringing their beer to the Philadelphia area. It will be interesting to watch which brewers can get a foothold in the competitive market and which will make a single push with little long-term traction. Philly Beer Week is already shaping up to to be the ultimate such event in the US and maybe the world. Local brewers will need to step up their marketing and beer-making efforts in order to stay on taps as Philadelphia will be only become a more crowded and competitive market. The local beer scene does a great job of supporting each other at a grass-roots level and they'll need that support to hold off interlopers. It's time for a "Drink Local" campaign aimed at local beer drinkers and bar owners."


Pete LaVerghetta said...

Having a hard time mustering up a lot of sympathy for Jim Crane. I'm sure he's a great guy and a hard working small businessman, but he - along with countless others - have been the beneficiaries of PAs craptastic liquor laws for far too long.

TJs said...

Love Arthur's "Drink Local" idea.
I may have to run with (i.e. steal) that idea.

Arthur said...

TJs, it's all yours. It was in part inspired by your excelllent if California heavy but draft list. Inspired as I guiltily enjoyed just such a beer.

- Arthur

Dr Joel said...

Having a hard time mustering up sympathy for an independent businessman serving quality beers to his community Pete?

I highly doubt Jim Crane got into the business simply to exploit a law that makes beer commerce different (and expensive) in the state he happens to live in.

Maybe he did though, seems like there's a lot of conspiracies out there to keep the craft beer drinker down.

This is a time in our state's history when embracing progression while protecting people who've had an instrumental hand in building the sales of many of our loved craft beers is very important for hard working people to keep their jobs and for other hard working people feel satisfied at retail.

Bryan Kolesar said...

It's not entirely fair me letting so many weeks go by with commenting on this.

Dr. Joel, thank you for weighing in much more timely fashion than I. You spoke much of what I was attempting to translate to the written word.

At the time, I was debating how to reply to Pete's comments, which I thought were/are unfair characterizations of retail beer distributors.

Jim, and numerous others in his position, in Philly's western suburbs are important pieces in the craft beer "movement." And, hardly any of them could be guilty of becoming "rich" off of it.

Will they always have a place in it in their capacity? Perhaps, perhaps not. But, I see no reason to bum-rush them off stage quite yet.