A beer retreat sounds like a great thing. Just not for the brewery doing the retreating. Such bullet-biting regional breweries include Dogfish Head, Left Hand, Oskar Blues and Allagash, which all recently announced they’re pulling out of select states. Generally pulling out is not considered an effective method, but we’re talking beer here.
Rather than resulting from diminishing demand, dialing back distribution is the consequence of rapid growth and increased demand in their other markets. It is a lousy thing to do to the distributors in the retracted markets – to say nothing of the actual consumers – but is it really so terrible on the whole? Okay, so beer lovers in Connecticut can’t get Avery, nor Great Divide anymore, but then again, it’s not like Coloradans find New England Brewing’s Imperial Stout Trooper on their shelves. And are the cheeseheads up in Wisconsin going to bemoan the loss of Stone when they have a literal lock on all beers New Glarus?
Variety is fantastic. But isn’t it better to support your local brewery? New Glarus withdrew from its neighboring Illinois almost a decade ago and since then Wisconsinites have supported it to the tune of becoming the 21st largest craft brewery in the country. And yes, while their Wisconsin Belgian Red is one of the most traded beers out there, it just tastes better at their Tasting Room.