Why Would a Bottle Shop Open a Brewery

As you may have heard, a few weeks ago, we announced some big news for The Glass Jug. This fall, we'll be moving into a larger space (just a few doors down) where we'll be adding an event space, outdoor beer garden, and an on-site brewery. You can read more about that on our blog or on any of the various news articles.

I wanted to use this avenue to speak a bit about why we're adding a brewery to our bottle shop and why I am predicting that will be a more common occurrence in the near future.

First off, yes, we are opening a brewery because I love to brew and it gives me an opportunity to take on my dream job to see if I can cut it as a professional brewer. However, there is a bit more to it than that.

One trend that is worth noting is that "bottle shops" really aren't just bottle shops anymore. Not only are more and more beers being packaged in cans, but gone are the days when you could open up a small storefront with aisles of retail shelving full of beer bottles and expect to turn a profit. Unfortunately, if customers were just looking for aisles of beer bottles, they can get that at most grocery stores these days.

Instead, most of the successful bottle shops, or more correctly referred to as retail craft beer stores, are succeeding because they not only have a nice selection of packaged beer, but, because they have become a neighborhood bar and community hang-out venue.

What has been observed is that craft beer and the social acceptance of consuming alcohol has resulted in more people congregating and drinking beer after work with friends, as opposed to only in smokey bars after midnight.

The craft beer store has become the coffee shop of the evening. It's a place for meetings, a place for hanging out with friends, a place for a casual date. And, when you're finished enjoying a couple pints, you can snag a 6-pack or two to take home to enjoy later.

The other important thing to know is that people will go to the bottle shop that is closest to their work or their home - or the one that is most convenient to their commute between the two. People do not often travel out of their way to go to a different bottle shop because the assumption is that you'll find pretty much the same offerings at them all.

So, if bottle shops need to become neighborhood bars to be successful, but their reach is only inclusive of their neighborhood, they need to find a way to overcome this if they want to continue to grow.

That is where the brewery comes in. Breweries have a similar appeal with regard to the community hang-out and neighborhood bar. However, the key difference is that people will travel to try new breweries or to hang out at the ones that have the best vibe or tastiest beer. It's not just about convenience.

Additionally, breweries are creating something unique - their own beer. It's something that every other bottle shop in town doesn't necessarily have available. They're manufacturing a product that can generate demand - and they control where you have to go to get that product.

Because of this, breweries also generate more buzz in the community. Breweries are featured in marketing campaigns for municipalities. Breweries are used to attract new homebuyers. Breweries are the torch-bearers for the craft beer industry. Bottle shops simply are not. They're just an outlet to sell the products that the breweries create. Brewers are rock stars. Bottle shops are the fun neighborhood garage band.

So, what is a growing bottle shop to do? Well, after much deliberation, Katy and I decided that we needed to grow our storefront to achieve two primary goals:

  1. We need more space to accommodate the growing neighborhood where we live. New homes and apartment complexes are being built all around us, and we already have trouble making room for our crowds on Thursday and Friday evenings.
  2. We want to increase our reach beyond just our neighborhood. By adding a brewery that will  (hopefully) create some very unique and desirable beers, we will have a reach that extends beyond just our immediate neighbors.

And, we think it will be fun! We're having a blast running a bottle shop and neighborhood bar. And we both love creating new things, including beer, especially if it means I get to do it full-time. And, lets' be real, I have a pretty hard time being still. Who knows what we'll be doing 3 years from now...