4) Let me steer us back to the core purpose of the question, which wasn’t meant to be an indictment of your portfolio! Let’s look at an example. The Standard Tap, for instance, posted a link to its tap list yesterday. 20 taps that are 100% craft, primarily local and not one Bella Vista brand is on there. The craft brands at the two local MillerCoors houses have about 75% of the market share of the taps at this bar. With the Greater Philadelphia area being at least 90% on-premise how do situations like these affect how you do business? Do you tend to focus more on retail than bars and restaurants?
We love the Standard tap and we love the fact that they do the local thing (minus NY – apparently we still have a chip on our shoulders when it comes to NYC). We currently don’t represent any locals that fall within their parameters but we are fortunate enough to be a part of their themed events throughout the year such as the IPA, Triple, and/or wood aged beer events. Hopefully when Neshaminy Creek Brewing comes on line, we will be able to fill that mile marker void many pubs demand their beer be produced within. Voodoo Brewery is in Meadville, Lavery is in Erie, both being over six hours away from Philadelphia. Sixpoint is only 93 miles away, however it is an NYC brand, and in all honesty if they wont carry Sixpoint, they wont carry Brooklyn so I’m ok with that. The Miller/Coors/Bud Houses are the old guard and due to the purchasing of Edward Friedland Co., each one got some of the most mature and most recognized of the locals in our area. It makes sense to see that tap list. However, with so many beers on tap at Standard Tap, it is nice to see more variety from other local brewers coming up, and again hopefully Neshaminy Creek can help us there on that accord.
5) Getting even more in depth, I’m looking at the tap list at a bar called Misconduct. I see one of the beers you carry, an imperial stout called Voodoo Cow Bell, is on draft. Is this a dedicated tap line for BV where beers from your portfolio get swapped in and out? And why this beer in particular at this particular bar?
Misconduct is a great place in the heart of Philly that has a great rotation of draught and bottles. Bella Vista merely started going after those pesky Guinness lines because it seemed that, in general, there usually are multiple taps and usually a nitro line- one of those was always tied up with Guinness and what not. So we started asking other breweries for variations of nitro/low gas beer so that a bar can have more options on the nitro line. With success, we have gained over 80 new nitro lines this year with Boulder offering variations of nitro, Sixpoint making a nitro beer, and Voodoo to name a few. We don’t ever assume we have any permanent lines. We merely try to fill the needs of our customers when they need them filled. To be honest, Voodoo Cowbell has a huge following. When it comes out, we dont have enough to go around. Cowbell has become the rocky horror picture show of beer!
6) What are the differences between Philadelphia’s beer market vs. other major beer markets like Portland, New York City, Chicago etc.?
Philly from Portland? BrewPUBS! We don’t have anywhere near the amount Portland has; isn’t the ratio like 1:1? Seriously though, we think that there needs to be more local beer made in our region with a much more diverse selection. Cities like Portland have Lagers, English Ales and heck, even Sours! That’s why we bring in Cascade from Portland! We are anxiously awaiting the opening of local BrewPub, Tired Hands, and Terry of The Famers Cabinet to start producing some out-of-this-world wilds, saisons, and all sorts of other inoculated beers!
The one thing we did notice is the level of camaraderie on the brewpub level that doesn’t seem to exist all that much here. For instance, our local brewers hang out with each other at events and collaborate on beers, but don’t necessarily think of putting their colleagues’ beers on tap as a guest tap or a comparable tap- unless there is some sort of big event like Belgium Comes to West Chester.
Chicagoland has great brewpubs. Two of the best brewpubs we’ve seen, Flossmoor Station and The Pub at Three Floyds, always have beers from other brewers. Are we going to Three Floyds for Avery or Cigar City beer or is there a requirement for doing so? Heck no, but it is quite cool to see they respect other brewers enough to always have a selection of guest taps.
As for Philadelphia, our distribution is barnone the best in the land! So many unbelievable highly regarded sought after brewers make it a point to send their beer to the Philly market, and even then, sometimes they will send certain packages only to our market due to the outstanding job the wholesaler has done. For example, Boulder Beer has made sure that 12 oz. bottle formats have been made for us and Ballast Point has publicly stated that they were only sending Sculpin in 6-packs to Philly for being their best out-of-state market by far.