Have you ever tried to be all things to all people? What I’ve found over the past few months, is that you just end up being a mediocre version of what you could’ve been had you focused on less. I’m the VP of a PR firm, the owner of a personal training business and a craft beer blogger amongst other things. And, time and time again, as I’ve tried to add more to the list, I’ve found that the most important items suffer.
So, how does this relate to craft beer? Well, without sounding like a massive jerk, I think that the majority of breweries out there would put out better product if they focused on less. Let’s look at a few Midwestern outfits to prove the point.
New Glarus Brewing, in New Glarus, WI, has made the decision not to distribute outside of the state. Because of this, they can continue to be creative and innovate, without the pressure of producing massive quantities of beer to satisfy market demand. They have a “money-maker” in Spotted Cow, which frees them up to produce high-caliber, small batch beers when they so choose.
Metropolitan Brewing, in Chicago, IL, produces nothing but German-style lagers. Because of this, they can focus on honing every recipe to perfection. They can deliver on a promise of providing the top lagers in Chicagoland because there is no pressure to produce the IPAs, Double IPAs, and barrel-aged stouts that many consumers expect from craft breweries.
Sun King Brewing, in Indianapolis, IN, only cans three of their beers for distribution even though they’ve produced well over 100 different brews in the past couple years. They’ve won quite a few GABF medals, but they’ve realized that to keep the quality where they want it, it’s more prudent not to produce each and every one of those beers for the masses.
Now, obviously, there are a handful of breweries out there that produce a ton of great beer, in a ton of different styles and distribute it to a ton of different markets…but they’re the exception. Quite frankly, every brewery out there isn’t going to be the next New Belgium or Stone. Those looking to make a name for themselves would do well to focus on being the best at less.
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