Would you risk running into your burning house to save your beer? Well, perhaps if you are seeing your latest attempt at a craft beer recipe going up in flames, I thought when I read the headline Man-risks-burning-building-to-save-beer. Turns out, the guy was only thirsty and a bit selfish.
It did remind me though of the passion that goes into craft products. The experimenting, trial and error, the excitement of establishing a brand, designing packaging… And then, to have people enjoy your product. This small scale hands-on approach often has a personal story and family involvement and is a favourite of the media.
There are however a few challenges.
One of them, distribution. In South Africa, the distribution of alcoholic products has changed quite significantly over the last few years and redistribution has become a very important part of the chain.
Redistribution is when a company combine various products in its offering to offer the customer (restaurant owner or retailer) a one-stop-shop. Customers love that. Rather than seeing different reps for spirits, wine and beer, they now gets all their alcoholic products from one supplier.
It therefore became important for the distributor to add interest to the offering. It is of strategic importance to have a look at your portfolio and add something like craft beer and spirits. The challenge is though, that because it is craft, volumes are small and often can’t fulfil stock requirements – it is not always commercially viable from a retail perspective. Craft beer’s sell-by-date also offers a challenge.
Entrepreneurship and distribution are very important for craft products, but so is quality. These products are more expensive because they are not mass produced and commercial, but therefore quality is non-negotiable.
The small brewer can be more creative and produce exceptional flavours, but has to employ very strict discipline for hygiene and need to be up to date with brewing technique.
“Beer quality is the holy grail for any self-respecting brewer,” Hook said. “What makes the modern craft beer revolution so exciting is that we are able to benefit from technologies that the global brewers have used for decades and apply them to beers with more inherent flavour qualities.”
It is important not to get caught up in the romance of your own small brewery and the possible financial rewards.
“Often craft beer can be not just hazy but actively soupy, flat and/or oxidised, and people are expected to pay a premium for these beers. In addition, some newer craft breweries are concentrating heavily on marketing without paying the same attention to the quality of their beer, something they could probably learn from the big boys.”
The allure of craft can also be its challenge and while everyone enjoys a bit of ‘rock and roll’ in the drinks industry, some regulation is required to ensure consistency, reliability and in the end, viability.
Do read the complete thedrinksbusiness.com article here.