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Finally someone is taking on LN and DB
I think the more interesting story would be the growing number of places with non- DB/Lion beers on tap ?
If a bar can't entice me in with the offer of a Monteith's, a Mac's, a Heineken or a Stella, then a Carlsberg or Boundary Road
ain't going to get me in there either.
I think its a step in the right direction. My understanding is that many places are contractually tied to one of the big two, in that they are not allowed to sell anyone else's tap beer. Other places have equipment which is supplied by the brewery (fridges or taps) which can only be used for their products. The second arrangement is quite reasonable, if they supply the tap/cooler/pipes/gas it is only fair that you use their equipment for their beer, but I wouldn't be surprised if there is a financial down side to this too. The first type of arrangement (in my opinion) should be outlawed.
Once places are set-up without restrictive contracts, and with their own (or hired) equipment, then they will be in a position to test their market with some better quality beers, and then we might see the occasional "craft" beer in more places.
It would be interesting to know how the big two make their contracts attractive, and how the costs compare (up front equipment costs vs ongoing beer prices).
That sounds all good and a step in the right direction. But I've been into local pubs who say that they own all the taps, fridges etc, and may serve whatever beer they choose, but their major supplier (one of the two) would then retract their 'preferential discount.' So that would make a big dent in their profits unless they made up for it on their craft taps. But in smaller towns like ours, that ain't likely to happen sadly.
It is an interesting dilema Ian, 4 years ago we set up Tahi in a small town, Warkworth. We have never stocked NZ beers from Lion or DB and have only served craft NZ beer . The issue is not what you are stocking as much as what the people are wanting to drink, There is still resistance to quality beer in this country, as much as we would love to believe that everyone wants good beer unfortunately that is not the case and many operators will continue to sell Mainstream beers because of volume and margins regardless of what ever deals breweries do...and they throw less at it now than they used to. The next step for the majors will be to have good brewers producing quality beer in small quantities for them so that they can slowly erode the smaller craft brewers margins by covert production and entry to the craft market through the back door. Then watch what happens.
That's a fascinating and astute observation you make there, Ian, and I was interested to read it. Firstly, hats off to you mate for having a vision and the balls to see it through. Maybe the proximity to Auckland is a major benefit too, seeing you must have a very small residual population?
I believe you are so right that if the big players did the covert market invasion it would be a way around their dilemma of getting a piece of the craft beer market and saving face at the same time, and we then could find more taps with real ales in our pubs. So it isn't a bad compromise...if they do it. My only reservation is that the satisfaction the craft brewer gets out of plying his craft and seeing the final consumer satisfaction, all under his own banner, must engender a passion that might not quite prevail if the big guys are copping the cudos. But alll said and done it would be better than us having to settle for generic swill in most pubs around the country. I have noticed in other countries with the same dilema that I have been to that the big brewery monopolies tend to secure distribution rights for foreign (eg. UK) ales and then import and distribute them. Also a way around the problem for them, but still nowhere near as satisfying as home grown produce direct to the public.
We run a B&B and get mostly overseas clientel. They would be flabbergasted if they couldn't buy NZ wines in pubs and restaurants, and to the beer drinkers amongst them Tui just doesn't cut it and they don't understand it.
I agree that personal taste is peculiar. People who have been drinking ice-cold bottled Tui for decades sometimes find that any actual taste in a beer is too much . Then there is a large proportion of the population who just want an ice-cold bottle with some alcohol in it and don't care one way or the other about taste, they will probably drink the cheapest on offer, no matter what it is. So you are left with a minority who appreciate good beer and are prepared to pay a bit more for it.
If you are in a big city, there are enough beer lovers to support bars which cater for them, in a small township it is unlikely that there will be enough unless the craft beer bar is the only place in town. I guess Warkworth is just big enough? I'm very interested to hear more of your thoughts on how this works Ian.
Now if we are talking about the independent bar, (like the first Ian mentioned) where they can choose which beers they offer, the pricing starts to matter more, especially how that impacts on the overall profit. To understand that, can anyone give examples of the cost to the bar of a keg of mainstream beer compared to a keg of craft beer? And how much you have to buy to get how much discount?
What I am trying to understand here is whether the big two are playing fair or not.
As to the possibility of the big two moving into craft beer, from what I've seen, I don't think they understand the concept yet. I went to the Tui brewery tour where they are still proud of their continuous fermentation process, but also do batch brews of their "special" beers. I tried a couple of their specials, and they both tasted just like Tui. They had totally missed the point. So I think it would be more likely that they would buy craft breweries as a way of getting the craft brewery's customers, then closing them down and relying on the craft brand to sell their own slop. I think the craft beer drinkers are clever enough to see through that, but maybe it wouldn't hurt if there was some legal protection against monopolies having too much power.
Some very good points there, Smiffy. I had a yarn with one of our progressive cafe owners who gets in lots of blues and other players and sells great food and liquor. He is a real fan of craft brew but says the Monteiths (I think that's what he still has) tap has universal appeal enough and allows him to sell the cheapest pint in town. He just doesn't think he'd get the return on a craft brew tap, he says. BUT, he does keep a range of Emmersons and other craft beer in bottles. That's a reasonable compromise for a cafe/restaurant, but for me, when I go to a pub I particularly look for beer on tap. Fussy old fart? Yeah, I guess so! But bottles I can drink happily at home anyway.