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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance: Make the switch - Replace your go-to brew with a local!

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As a brewery owner, I’d say the number one question I am asked is something along the lines of this: “How long until this whole brewery bubble pops?”

Now, that isn’t a question that anyone can answer with any certainty at this particular moment, but I often offer up something along the lines of “There are still fewer breweries than wineries and Americans drink more beer than wine, so I’d say we haven’t hit the peak yet.”

It’s an honest answer that more or less represents what I think (vaguely) about that (also vague) question.

That said, there is one troubling thing that I notice that will be crucial in setting the foundation for all of the local craft breweries to make it through this initial “wild-west” phase in which we seem to still be in the middle. The long-term success of this industry lies in the consumer making the conscious decision to not only buy beer from local breweries, but to actually replace their ‘go-to’ beer with something locally made.

What do I mean by that? I mean that those folks who buy a local four-pack here and there, who drink local on draft and go out of their way to visit local breweries are absolutely helping the industry, but until that same group of people decides that they will no longer stock their home fridge with cheaper regional or national alternatives, local breweries won’t be able to achieve the long-term sustainability that an industry with overheads as significant as brewing beer requires.

So what can you do? Instead of grabbing that cheap 12-pack of Goose Island IPA, pick up something from an independent, local brewery that does 12 packs like Geaghan Bros. or Sebago Brewing. Instead of getting the 30-pack of Michelob Ultra, get a 12-pack of it and look to pick up a Growler or some four-packs of a locally made Kolsch. Are you a Guinness drinker? Look into one of the many locally made stouts, such as John Henry Milk Stout from Fore River.

Look – here are the facts. Large national and international brewing conglomerates like ABInBev (Anheuser Busch Parent Company) and MillerCoors still control over 70 percent of the overall beer market. Until consumers are willing to put quality over quantity – and to pay a little extra for it - your local brewer will continue to have to compete with those big boys over draft lines, shelf space and price points, shrinking their profit margins in the short-term.

So be a homer. Drink local beer at home and not just at the bar! It might sting your wallet a bit at the beginning, but in the grand scheme of things, you’ll be creating a better beer world for the next generation. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

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