A clash of perspectives is raging in the beer aisles across the country. How should the aisles be set? Are they set by brewery, with all of the beers from that particular outfit grouped together into one big billboard for the business? Or are the beers all grouped together by style, with all the IPAs gathered into one section, or by season, or vintage? Are they grouped by country, region or state?
It’s fun to see what a favorite brewery has that’s new and exciting. If you like a particular style, it’s also great to see what other examples are out there. And if you really feel that there’s a regionalism to beers (West Coast IPAs vs. East Coast IPAs) then stocking shelves by region makes a lot of sense. For example, everyone is eager to see a collection of beers from Belgium. Even with this set, the beers can be subcategorized by brewery or style.
Walk to the next aisle and take a look at how wine is set up. You’ll see it is generally organized in two directions. They’ll have a set that is all about region, which makes sense given the wine industry promotes terroir, where specific places become significant contributors to quality because of the unique quality of the soil or the microclimate. They also will organize the shelves by style giving the consumer a chance to browse a shelf full of one varietal. I don’t know a lot about the wine industry, but I do know most of the wine-loving people that I associate with will look for a certain varietal, from a specific region, for occasions. A California Chardonnay for a dinner of light pasta is an easy request to fill in most aisles.
What you hardly ever see in the wine aisles are sets by winery. There are some who feel that this is one of the principal reasons why the wine industry has had such a challenge in creating brands. Of course, there are well-established winery brands, but there simply aren’t that many Yellowtails out there.
Now turn around and look at the brewery aisle. Brewery brands. Aisles of them. We know their names. We look for those breweries. You don’t have to go very far into our brewing history to bump into brand partisanship and loyalty that could become militant at times. This passion has returned with the recent beer renaissance. We all have our own local and regional breweries that have earned our undying loyalty. We all have our favorite breweries that reflect some passion or aesthetic that moves us. We follow these breweries. Even if it’s just a single style of beer that’s caught our fancy, we invariably take a journey through the whole portfolio. We support them. We talk them up. We build their brands. That’s the beauty and magic of the world of beer.
Tell your favorite beer retailer that you want to see your beers set by brewery so you can stay on top of what your favorite breweries are brewing. Share their passion.
Daniel Bradford is the publisher of All About Beer Magazine.