Vote: Organize beer shelves by style or brewery?

beer by style

beer by style

A complaint and discussion that followed about Total Wine and More’s organization of beers by style instead of by breweries got me thinking: which way do I prefer? The ‘Bike. Bus. Beer.’ blog covered this over the summer with comments from a rep from The Bruery and Total Wine & More. Worth reading…

What craft beer they carry tends to be organized by brewery. This of course applies only where they carry more than one beer from a given brewery. Where we see a bit more variation is in bottle shops (those places whose focus is beer, wine and spirits). It is in these stores that the wine approach sometimes takes over the beer fridge. Rather than seeing all of a brewery’s product in one place, things get spread out by style. Tripels over here, IPA’s over there, Stouts all in one place, etc, etc, so on and so forth.


via Beer Displays and Brand Equity | Bike. Bus. Beer..


email newsletter signup box anonymous tip form

13 thoughts on “Vote: Organize beer shelves by style or brewery?

  1. Brewery for sure. I like seeing all the offerings from a particular brewery in one place. That way I don’t have to search in a number of places to see everything they have to offer and risk overlooking one of their gems because I didn’t realize they made a particular style or that the store considers it a different style than I do.

    Maybe you’re not into saisons so you don’t look in that section but if you had, you’d find that one of your favorite breweries has a special saison out that you would have bought had you know it. Not a problem when they’re grouped by brewery. Many people just getting into craft beer may be scared off by certain styles and not look at them but could overlook something they would have bought and tried had they seen it was made by someone they knew they liked other beers from. I know thats kind of how I expanded my tastes years ago and branched out into other styles.

  2. My local beer store does a bit of both. Definately by brewery first but thereafter by region. This leads to an appoximation of style too (all the Trappists together, British bitters together, North American IPA’s in roughly the same area).

    What I prefer depends on the store. At my local, I could care less so long as they don’t change it. I generally know where things are and will come in looking for a new release or a specific style. In other words, I usually know what I want because I have been thinking about it on the way over.

    At a store I don’t know, by brewery is a preference as I am generally either browsing for something I couldn’t get at my local or quickly nipping in to find something I know.

  3. I much prefer them grouped by style. I tend to always know what styles I am in the mood for, or will be in the mood for, and I think the organization by style lends itself well to this. In addition, I think it helps limit the amount of information overload. When I go in a store, it takes me much, much longer to select something when it is organized by brewery. I also tend to try more breweries when organized by style, so I can see why a brewery would probably prefer the opposite, especially an established one.

  4. For beginners, grouping by style helps them find other beers they may like and, in the process, discover new breweries as well. But as a distributor, and a Total Wine vendor, the grouping by style is annoying to merchandise as you constantly find yourself walking up and down the aisles and doing a lot more searching with this new system.

  5. I’d say by style then by brewery within each style category would be a pretty nice and easy to look through compromise!

  6. By country, then by brewery. It gets people who think they like “only one style” to try other beers, i.e., “If I like the pale ale from this brewery, I’ll also try their IPA. Oh this brewery has a special summer style? Oh, and something else that’s new?” Grouping by brewery gets people to branch out and explore more styles, encouraging them to discover new beers…and ultimately, new breweries.

    For those who like to shop by style, extra labeling can be created to quickly identify styles. We do this at our beer shop by tagging stouts & porter tags with red dots, IPA & pale ales with green dots, and wheat beers with yellow dots — as those are the most commonly requested styles/types of beer.

    There’s also some natural style grouping that occurs when grouping by country as most sours are in the Belgian section and most lagers are in the German, Eastern European, and Asian areas.

    When breweries are split between the cooler and ambient shelves, there tends to be “seasonal” groupings in the ambient areas.

  7. I prefer by style. If im in the mood for a russian imperial stout say, or a somethign light like a pale, but im kind of in the mood to try somethign from another brewery it makes it nice to see them all in one place. where i can look and them and maybe read a couple labels and see hop choices or ABV. rather than walk up and down the aisles trying to find a stout that maybe i havent had before. i dont believe ive ever thought to myslef…”hey, man a deschutes sounds really good right now” or “god id kill for new belgium”. from a vendors stand point yes, it is nice to see all my product lined up in one location. certainly makes my lifve easier. but as a customer id find style to be much more convenient.but, with that in mind i see both sides. and could agree either way

  8. I don’t believe I’ve ever been in a shop where the beer is not organized by brewery (and typically country – brewery), so I’d have to go with brewery organized. A lot of the time when I walk into the store I don’t know the style of beer I want, so having them all mixed together via brewery can spark an interest. I also agree it helps finding new beers from a particular brewery easier (if I didn’t know the brewery was putting out a stout, and I only went over to the stout section occasionally, I would miss it). I like Tiffany’s ( suggestion of putting colored dots on certain styles so those stick out a little more. If I knew the particular style I wanted, I would probably know the particular beer I wanted too, so I would head straight for that, but most of the time I enjoy browsing through the beers saying “do I want this, or how about this… well this looks interesting…”

  9. Organizing by style makes it a nightmare for brewery reps and distributors when they come in to try to restock things. Keep in mind that much of the stocking and order suggestions at many stores is done by them, not always the store employees.

  10. At my shop we organize by brewery – east coast to west coast along the wall (although we stock the American Belgian style ales with the Belgian Ales).

    It’s easy for the guys that know what they want to navigate. It’s also easy for me to navigate and point out variations on a style for the person that needs help…

  11. The biggest issue with the “by style” method is that a lot of assuming happens. Style isn’t black and white, whereas the brewery on the package is. I think brewery organization just makes far more sense, both from a consumer standpoint and a stocking standpoint. It leaves on the subjective of determining if you need to have an American Strong Ale area. And then what makes a beer an ASA? The styles aren’t the same on BA & RB? What do you use for the style…

  12. Pingback: Poll results: Two-thirds of beer enthusiasts want shelf space organized by brewery |

  13. I would say that I am indifferent as long as the organization method is clear and consistent. Many beer stores are not, and that is worse than any of the other options.


Leave a Reply