How can craft bars differentiate themselves

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Craig
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How can craft bars differentiate themselves

Postby Craig » Wed Nov 11, 2015 1:17 pm

It's bloody near impossible to have a special beer list these days. You can either try to import your own, which basically nobody does any more, or you can spend a lot of time on the phone with brewers begging them for kegs of their special stuff, which I think normally comes with lower margins for the brewer. Even then, you're just adding yourself to the list with Volo, Barhop, The Only, Wvrst, and so on, so you're not really setting yourself apart. The sad reality in this sheltered market is it's very hard to differentiate yourself with your beer selection. Blame the 'BO.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby admviolin » Wed Nov 11, 2015 4:38 pm

Craig wrote:It's bloody near impossible to have a special beer list these days. You can either try to import your own, which basically nobody does any more, or you can spend a lot of time on the phone with brewers begging them for kegs of their special stuff, which I think normally comes with lower margins for the brewer. Even then, you're just adding yourself to the list with Volo, Barhop, The Only, Wvrst, and so on, so you're not really setting yourself apart. The sad reality in this sheltered market is it's very hard to differentiate yourself with your beer selection. Blame the 'BO.


It's sad the way our province handles imports, everyone has the same access to the same brokers. Coupled with the fact that most of the great imports come via keep6, esprit, r&r etc. anyone new to the scene (or anyone trying to catch up) can only try to have a bottle list that resembles volo, bar hop etc.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby atomeyes » Wed Nov 11, 2015 8:38 pm

Craig wrote:It's bloody near impossible to have a special beer list these days. You can either try to import your own, which basically nobody does any more, or you can spend a lot of time on the phone with brewers begging them for kegs of their special stuff, which I think normally comes with lower margins for the brewer. Even then, you're just adding yourself to the list with Volo, Barhop, The Only, Wvrst, and so on, so you're not really setting yourself apart. The sad reality in this sheltered market is it's very hard to differentiate yourself with your beer selection. Blame the 'BO.


blaming the provincial govt and limitation on keg distributors is the key to our misery.
otherwise, your points are completely off.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby Craig » Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:52 pm

Is the LCBO suddenly not the part of the government tasked with controlling liquor distribution?
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Re: beerbistro

Postby biegaman » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:35 pm

Craig wrote:The sad reality in this sheltered market is it's very hard to differentiate yourself with your beer selection. Blame the 'BO.

You are absolutely correct (both keg and bottle). And this makes bar owners either not try at all or be forced to settle for whatever they can get (local) regardless of quality. We have a generation of new craft drinkers in Ontario that aren't aware of (or don't fully appreciate) iconic beers from the UK, Belgium, Germany or the US. It's problematic. There's a lot of poor beer being sold and people don't know any better or have no choice but to support it.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby ercousin » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:02 pm

I think there are still a few ways to differentiate your draft list that people aren't doing.

There are 125 breweries, 38 brew pubs, and 47 contract brewers in this province, yet draft lists at Volo/Bar-Hop etc focus on a subset of about 20-30 of them. You can make arguments that these 20-30 brewers are the "best" ones, but there are still 150 breweries out there that are making beer, there has got to be some gems left to discover. There's a whole smattering of breweries in Ottawa with very little presence in Toronto, Beyond the Pale for example.

It would be cool to see more bars branching out and getting kegs from some of the further out breweries. Like Lansdowne is doing by focusing their draft list on homebrewers that have gone pro. One of the only places in Toronto that carries 5 Paddles, Garden Brewers, etc...
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Re: beerbistro

Postby midlife crisis » Mon Nov 16, 2015 3:56 pm

ercousin wrote:I think there are still a few ways to differentiate your draft list that people aren't doing.

There are 125 breweries, 38 brew pubs, and 47 contract brewers in this province, yet draft lists at Volo/Bar-Hop etc focus on a subset of about 20-30 of them. You can make arguments that these 20-30 brewers are the "best" ones, but there are still 150 breweries out there that are making beer, there has got to be some gems left to discover. There's a whole smattering of breweries in Ottawa with very little presence in Toronto, Beyond the Pale for example.

It would be cool to see more bars branching out and getting kegs from some of the further out breweries. Like Lansdowne is doing by focusing their draft list on homebrewers that have gone pro. One of the only places in Toronto that carries 5 Paddles, Garden Brewers, etc...


Yeah I agree. I was going to mention Lansdowne, as I was out that way not too long ago and stopped in for the first time. Very impressed. Rainhard/Clifford/Garden, etc -- some interesting, harder to find stuff. Another example might be Tequila Bookworm. But it's not easy. V and BH set the bar very high. As for beerbistro, which the thread was originally about, I had my visit in a medium-sized group last week. I generally agree with the recent commentary above. Food, unfortunately, was quite lacklustre. Even the mussels were mostly small and shrivelled; not the plump and juicy beauties of days gone by.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby Craig » Mon Nov 16, 2015 5:23 pm

ercousin wrote:I think there are still a few ways to differentiate your draft list that people aren't doing.

There are 125 breweries, 38 brew pubs, and 47 contract brewers in this province, yet draft lists at Volo/Bar-Hop etc focus on a subset of about 20-30 of them. You can make arguments that these 20-30 brewers are the "best" ones, but there are still 150 breweries out there that are making beer, there has got to be some gems left to discover. There's a whole smattering of breweries in Ottawa with very little presence in Toronto, Beyond the Pale for example.

It would be cool to see more bars branching out and getting kegs from some of the further out breweries. Like Lansdowne is doing by focusing their draft list on homebrewers that have gone pro. One of the only places in Toronto that carries 5 Paddles, Garden Brewers, etc...


I think it's harder to get kegs here from far-out breweries. Most of them are likely selling out closer to home, especially if you're trying to get out of their core lineup.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby groulxsome » Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:32 pm

Craig wrote:
ercousin wrote:I think there are still a few ways to differentiate your draft list that people aren't doing.

There are 125 breweries, 38 brew pubs, and 47 contract brewers in this province, yet draft lists at Volo/Bar-Hop etc focus on a subset of about 20-30 of them. You can make arguments that these 20-30 brewers are the "best" ones, but there are still 150 breweries out there that are making beer, there has got to be some gems left to discover. There's a whole smattering of breweries in Ottawa with very little presence in Toronto, Beyond the Pale for example.

It would be cool to see more bars branching out and getting kegs from some of the further out breweries. Like Lansdowne is doing by focusing their draft list on homebrewers that have gone pro. One of the only places in Toronto that carries 5 Paddles, Garden Brewers, etc...


I think it's harder to get kegs here from far-out breweries. Most of them are likely selling out closer to home, especially if you're trying to get out of their core lineup.


And someone from those breweries has to deliver from whereever to the bar and then get the keg back when it's done. If you're outside Toronto, you need enough accounts to reliably sell and turn kegs to make the trip worth it (if you're even two hours out, getting in and dropping kegs can eat a whole day). It isn't like breweries can be on a truck with other breweries so it's not like a shipment can come down from Ottawa from a few breweries (i.e. Beau's can let BtP piggy back on a truck for a few kegs). If you're a small brewery where your keg stocks (even empty kegs!) is at a premium, making a trip to some of the hardest bars to get into in the city is a big time investment. Especially if your already selling all your beer in your local market.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby matt7215 » Mon Nov 16, 2015 6:43 pm

groulxsome wrote:
Craig wrote:
ercousin wrote:I think there are still a few ways to differentiate your draft list that people aren't doing.

There are 125 breweries, 38 brew pubs, and 47 contract brewers in this province, yet draft lists at Volo/Bar-Hop etc focus on a subset of about 20-30 of them. You can make arguments that these 20-30 brewers are the "best" ones, but there are still 150 breweries out there that are making beer, there has got to be some gems left to discover. There's a whole smattering of breweries in Ottawa with very little presence in Toronto, Beyond the Pale for example.

It would be cool to see more bars branching out and getting kegs from some of the further out breweries. Like Lansdowne is doing by focusing their draft list on homebrewers that have gone pro. One of the only places in Toronto that carries 5 Paddles, Garden Brewers, etc...


I think it's harder to get kegs here from far-out breweries. Most of them are likely selling out closer to home, especially if you're trying to get out of their core lineup.


And someone from those breweries has to deliver from whereever to the bar and then get the keg back when it's done. If you're outside Toronto, you need enough accounts to reliably sell and turn kegs to make the trip worth it (if you're even two hours out, getting in and dropping kegs can eat a whole day). It isn't like breweries can be on a truck with other breweries so it's not like a shipment can come down from Ottawa from a few breweries (i.e. Beau's can let BtP piggy back on a truck for a few kegs). If you're a small brewery where your keg stocks (even empty kegs!) is at a premium, making a trip to some of the hardest bars to get into in the city is a big time investment. Especially if your already selling all your beer in your local market.


^this^
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Re: beerbistro

Postby admviolin » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:32 pm

groulxsome wrote:
Craig wrote:
ercousin wrote:I think there are still a few ways to differentiate your draft list that people aren't doing.

There are 125 breweries, 38 brew pubs, and 47 contract brewers in this province, yet draft lists at Volo/Bar-Hop etc focus on a subset of about 20-30 of them. You can make arguments that these 20-30 brewers are the "best" ones, but there are still 150 breweries out there that are making beer, there has got to be some gems left to discover. There's a whole smattering of breweries in Ottawa with very little presence in Toronto, Beyond the Pale for example.

It would be cool to see more bars branching out and getting kegs from some of the further out breweries. Like Lansdowne is doing by focusing their draft list on homebrewers that have gone pro. One of the only places in Toronto that carries 5 Paddles, Garden Brewers, etc...


I think it's harder to get kegs here from far-out breweries. Most of them are likely selling out closer to home, especially if you're trying to get out of their core lineup.


And someone from those breweries has to deliver from whereever to the bar and then get the keg back when it's done. If you're outside Toronto, you need enough accounts to reliably sell and turn kegs to make the trip worth it (if you're even two hours out, getting in and dropping kegs can eat a whole day). It isn't like breweries can be on a truck with other breweries so it's not like a shipment can come down from Ottawa from a few breweries (i.e. Beau's can let BtP piggy back on a truck for a few kegs). If you're a small brewery where your keg stocks (even empty kegs!) is at a premium, making a trip to some of the hardest bars to get into in the city is a big time investment. Especially if your already selling all your beer in your local market.


I thought it was crazy when Stack Brewing was at C'est What. I'm happy for those guys, but what a drive just for one delivery.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby ercousin » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:35 pm

Curious, does it have the be the brewery making the delivery?

Could the bar make the pick up? What funny laws we have....
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Re: beerbistro

Postby admviolin » Tue Nov 17, 2015 5:57 pm

ercousin wrote:Curious, does it have the be the brewery making the delivery?

Could the bar make the pick up? What funny laws we have....


That's a good one...the general public can buy kegs from breweries...I'm sure bars can't.
I've heard you can't just walk into an LCBO and buy alcohol to stock a bar.
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How can craft bars differentiate themselves

Postby lister » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:18 pm

admviolin wrote:
ercousin wrote:Curious, does it have the be the brewery making the delivery?

Could the bar make the pick up? What funny laws we have....


I've heard you can't just walk into an LCBO and buy alcohol to stock a bar.


Sure they do. I've seen bar owners and bartenders do that all the time. I've been stuck behind some of them and their huge carts. I've also been screwed out of getting stuff because they've cleared out the shelf. :evil: They have to say they're a licensee and give their number.
Last edited by lister on Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: beerbistro

Postby MattS » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:28 pm

lister wrote:
admviolin wrote:
ercousin wrote:Curious, does it have the be the brewery making the delivery?

Could the bar make the pick up? What funny laws we have....


I've heard you can't just walk into an LCBO and buy alcohol to stock a bar.


Sure they do. I've seen bar owners and bartenders do that all the time. I've been stuck behind some of them and they huge carts. I've also been screwed out of getting stuff because they've cleared out the shelf. :evil: They have to say they're a licensee and give their number.


Bars can go to breweries to get product - for instance, the Wooly in Guelph has been known to go to Bellwoods to pick up a few kegs.

As for the LCBO, you can only buy items there if they're not listed at the Beer Store. So, liquor and wine is easy, but beer is generally limited to seasonal releases etc. And, of course, no kegs.

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