Would you line up for Ontario beer?

Discuss beer or anything else that comes to mind in here.

Moderators: GregClow, Cass

User avatar
Cass
Beer Superstar
Posts: 3299
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2001 7:00 pm
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Would you line up for Ontario beer?

Postby Cass » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:27 pm

Back from a weekend in Vermont and I can't help but be continually amazed and fascinated at the lengths people will go to get the "hot" beers. Was talking to Squeaky from the forum about this down there and I thought I'd bring it up here.

At Hill Farmstead, there's a line up for beer EVERY DAY. Doesn't matter what beer it is.

With Heady & Lawson's, there's line ups at beer stores that get the product EVERY WEEK. People follow the delivery trucks. And this has been sustained for what seems like a couple of years.

And it doesn't seem exclusive to VT. I was talking to a guy from Rhode Island and he was telling me about some new Massachusetts breweries where it's 2-3 hours at the brewery to get the beer. So clearly it's happening in places that aren't simply top-ten rated brewers.

So it makes me think, could or would this kind of thing happen in Ontario *regularly*, and what the conditions would be for this to happen? We've seen big lines before with Bellwoods, GLB & Amsterdam (plus Westy), but those seems to be one offs - it's not like there's a line up at these places every day.

Is this due to the fact that Ontario has no beers in RB or BA's top charts to froth at the mouth for?

Are Ontarians just less likely to bother to line up for beer on a regular basis?

Is it a supply and demand issue – too much beer to go around for who wants to drink it? Or do brewers do a better job at meeting demand?

Is the quality of the beer not “frenzy-worthy”?

Or do we need some kind of external validation, like the publicity that Vermont brewers get?

So, do you think the type of thing seen in Vermont is possible here? I'm not advocating that I'd necessarily want this, but genuinely curious if our beer culture would produce this phenomenon.
Kel Varnsen
Bar Fly
Posts: 641
Joined: Mon May 25, 2009 8:25 am
Location: Ottawa

Re: Would you line up for Ontario beer?

Postby Kel Varnsen » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:37 pm

Cass wrote:Back from a weekend in Vermont and I can't help but be continually amazed and fascinated at the lengths people will go to get the "hot" beers. Was talking to Squeaky from the forum about this down there and I thought I'd bring it up here.

At Hill Farmstead, there's a line up for beer EVERY DAY. Doesn't matter what beer it is.

With Heady & Lawson's, there's line ups at beer stores that get the product EVERY WEEK. People follow the delivery trucks. And this has been sustained for what seems like a couple of years.

And it doesn't seem exclusive to VT. I was talking to a guy from Rhode Island and he was telling me about some new Massachusetts breweries where it's 2-3 hours at the brewery to get the beer. So clearly it's happening in places that aren't simply top-ten rated brewers.

So it makes me think, could or would this kind of thing happen in Ontario *regularly*, and what the conditions would be for this to happen? We've seen big lines before with Bellwoods, GLB & Amsterdam (plus Westy), but those seems to be one offs - it's not like there's a line up at these places every day.

Is this due to the fact that Ontario has no beers in RB or BA's top charts to froth at the mouth for?

Are Ontarians just less likely to bother to line up for beer on a regular basis?

Is it a supply and demand issue – too much beer to go around for who wants to drink it? Or do brewers do a better job at meeting demand?

Is the quality of the beer not “frenzy-worthy”?

Or do we need some kind of external validation, like the publicity that Vermont brewers get?

So, do you think the type of thing seen in Vermont is possible here? I'm not advocating that I'd necessarily want this, but genuinely curious if our beer culture would produce this phenomenon.


I imagine there are a lot of issues at play. I assume a big one is word of mouth and the fact that it is relatively easy to drive from say New York State or New Hampshire to Vermont if you want some Heady or HFS. So they basically have the entire US north east as their customer base (something like 50 million people). If someone from NY state wanted an Ontario beer right now they would need a passport and only 30% of the population in the US even has one.

On the other hand it kind of blows my mind that tiny operations like Hill Farmstead or especially lawsons, can make enough money to stay in business. I mean Lawson's especially. I looked it up and they have only like 20 draft accounts, and maybe 5 retail accounts. They don't even have a retail brewery store. It just amazes me that you can produce and sell that much beer and make enough of a profit to stay in business. Of course it helps if you sell everything you make. But say for Ontario, what with higher taxes and other costs, I am not sure running an operation that small with minimal interest in expanding would even be possible.
User avatar
Cass
Beer Superstar
Posts: 3299
Joined: Sun Jun 17, 2001 7:00 pm
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Re: Would you line up for Ontario beer?

Postby Cass » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:46 pm

Kel Varnsen wrote:On the other hand it kind of blows my mind that tiny operations like Hill Farmstead or especially lawsons, can make enough money to stay in business. I mean Lawson's especially. I looked it up and they have only like 20 draft accounts, and maybe 5 retail accounts. They don't even have a retail brewery store. It just amazes me that you can produce and sell that much beer and make enough of a profit to stay in business. Of course it helps if you sell everything you make. But say for Ontario, what with higher taxes and other costs, I am not sure running an operation that small with minimal interest in expanding would even be possible.


Just an aside - found out this weekend that Lawson's is now contract brewing at Two Roads in Connecticut. Not sure if that will affect the 'frenzy' with more of the beer coming into circulation.
User avatar
Craig
Seasoned Drinker
Posts: 1670
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:23 am

Postby Craig » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:49 pm

The Lawson's lines don't even know what beer they're going to get that day. You might be getting a single bottle (oh yeah, one or two bottles per customer too, unlike the case of Heady you get) of Double Sunshine, or you might be getting a Kolsch or a Blonde or a Maple IS. They line up anyway, to spend 10 bucks on a bomber, even though you can get a pint down the road for like 8 bucks.

I think it's a lot of things in Ontario's case, but supply and demand is certainly one of them. How many releases have there ever been in Ontario where they actually ran out of beer on the first day? The only two I can think of off the top of my head are the last Karma Citra release and this year's Motley Cru. Even those took several hours to run out of stock, so you didn't really have to line up so much as you had to make sure you got there within a few hours of it being on sale. Heck, even Double Tempest had stock a few days later.

This leads to the hype. Motley Cru got lines because of hype. People had no idea at all what it was going to taste like but Bellwoods is trendy and hip so people wanted that special bottle. I think if we had beers in the top X lists that had limited supply, you'd see lines like that up here too.

I've lined up on both sides of the border. Hype makes beer taste better.
PeenSteen
Bar Fly
Posts: 716
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 10:41 pm
Location: Toronto

Postby PeenSteen » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:57 pm

I think there isn't just one issue at play as to why this sort of thing doesn't happen in Ontario. I think the most important is quality, while there are some killer IPA's coming out of Ontario that can compete with some top tier offerings in other markets in my opinion there isn't any stout (BA or not), saison, sour, Barleywine etc. that can even compete with off shelf standard American offerings (3 min to midnight, BOYD are obvious exceptions)
Kel Varnsen
Bar Fly
Posts: 641
Joined: Mon May 25, 2009 8:25 am
Location: Ottawa

Postby Kel Varnsen » Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:59 pm

I really think that population density is a big part of it (it helps if the beer is really good though). I mean a person from Boston or Hartford can be in Burlington Vermont in under 4 hours. Someone from New York City can be there in a little over 5. You can barely make it from Toronto to another Province in 5 hours. And outside of Toronto and Ottawa most of the ontario population is pretty spread out. So if you are a toronto brewery releasing a beer (in the manner that HFS or Alchemist might), you are pretty much relying on selling it to the local Toronto population.
User avatar
Craig
Seasoned Drinker
Posts: 1670
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2013 9:23 am

Re: Would you line up for Ontario beer?

Postby Craig » Mon Jul 21, 2014 3:04 pm

Kel Varnsen wrote:I imagine there are a lot of issues at play. I assume a big one is word of mouth and the fact that it is relatively easy to drive from say New York State or New Hampshire to Vermont if you want some Heady or HFS. So they basically have the entire US north east as their customer base (something like 50 million people). If someone from NY state wanted an Ontario beer right now they would need a passport and only 30% of the population in the US even has one.

On the other hand it kind of blows my mind that tiny operations like Hill Farmstead or especially lawsons, can make enough money to stay in business. I mean Lawson's especially. I looked it up and they have only like 20 draft accounts, and maybe 5 retail accounts. They don't even have a retail brewery store. It just amazes me that you can produce and sell that much beer and make enough of a profit to stay in business. Of course it helps if you sell everything you make. But say for Ontario, what with higher taxes and other costs, I am not sure running an operation that small with minimal interest in expanding would even be possible.


Lawson's has a 7bbl brewing capacity and no plans to expand, according to their website. That's what, 8 hl? Bellwoods had 4 17 hl fermentors when they opened, if memory serves. That's soooo small.
midlife crisis
Seasoned Drinker
Posts: 1952
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 7:00 pm
Location: Toronto

Postby midlife crisis » Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:22 pm

Hype, external validation (RB, BA anointing the beers as "world class") and limited supply matched against high demand fuelled by factors 1 and 2.
TheSevenDuffs
Beer Superstar
Posts: 2584
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:40 pm
Location: Mississauga
Contact:

Postby TheSevenDuffs » Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:47 pm

PeenSteen wrote:I think there isn't just one issue at play as to why this sort of thing doesn't happen in Ontario. I think the most important is quality, while there are some killer IPA's coming out of Ontario that can compete with some top tier offerings in other markets in my opinion there isn't any stout (BA or not), saison, sour, Barleywine etc. that can even compete with off shelf standard American offerings (3 min to midnight, BOYD are obvious exceptions)
Exactly. That's why some of the few lineups we have seen in Ontario have been at GLB recently for IPA releases.
iguenard
Seasoned Drinker
Posts: 1270
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 2:25 pm
Location: Ottawa
Contact:

Postby iguenard » Mon Jul 21, 2014 6:58 pm

Not being a US state kinda kills it for Ontario. Sorry folks!
User avatar
Tapsucker
Seasoned Drinker
Posts: 1652
Joined: Fri Apr 28, 2006 5:21 pm
Location: Toronto

Postby Tapsucker » Mon Jul 21, 2014 7:57 pm

Meh. The bigger the crowds, the more people show up.

I'm glad there are so many people brewing great beer (o.k. maybe not RB-nerd great) locally that I can get without the aggravation. Some would say you only live once, so why no go for the best. I say, you only live once, don't waste it in line.
Brands are for cattle.
Fans are cash cows.
The herd will consume until consumed.
atomeyes
Beer Superstar
Posts: 2151
Joined: Fri Oct 14, 2011 12:39 pm

Postby atomeyes » Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:41 pm

here's what i'd do.

1. open a brewery in Niagara
2. make sure it's off the beaten path
3. have a 7 bbl system. nothing more.
4. keep odd hours
5. tear up the concrete road and replace it with gravel roads
6. do some sours and fun stuff
7. have the word of mouth drive people and always sell out, giving the perception that the beer is insanely sought after
8. don't worry about maximizing profitability or expanding
User avatar
boney
Seasoned Drinker
Posts: 1209
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 3:49 pm
Location: Hamilton

Postby boney » Mon Jul 21, 2014 11:17 pm

Different cultures (broadly speaking and specific to beer nerdism), different economic platforms and pressures, and different paces of development. There may be line ups in Ontario's future, but why it happens and how craft culture develops after that point will likely be different in Ontario than in the US.
User avatar
Belgian
Bar Towel Legend
Posts: 9761
Joined: Sun Jul 04, 2004 6:15 pm
Location: Earth

Postby Belgian » Tue Jul 22, 2014 12:17 am

As a semi-reformed Beer Hunter I think there is definitely a completist mindset, a desire to try everything once whether as a competing ticker or as an experiential devotee.

I've bought a lot of cellar-worthy beers just because they were highly recommended or hard to get. Many I've yet to even try, so there's a bit of compulsiveness to collecting what other people want, maybe at least in part by definition of collecting.

But lineups don't appeal to me. I recall a Double Tempest lineup I skipped, big excitement and anxiety over bottle limits, then it was freely available at some LC stores and soon after that not spoken about hardly ever again. I do support all the brewers' special efforts within reason, but I'm not chasing any unicorn bait!

Who thinks IAH is at least as good as Bellwoods?
In Beerum Veritas
zane9
Posts: 429
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 1:05 pm
Location: Hamilton

Postby zane9 » Tue Jul 22, 2014 7:25 am

I don't know if this still happens, but a few years ago I would see wine lovers (snobs?) lining up on a Saturday morning outside LCBO stores with a big Vintages section. They had eagerly devoured the latest release catalogue, and circled some brutally overpriced cab sauv. The LBCO would limit purchases of that particular swill to 2 bottles per person. The entire stock would be gone in 20 minutes.

The wine industry set the bar high in terms of marketing, and has perfected it over the years: create an artificial scarcity, get a favourable review, set the price high, give the product an aspirational vibe, tie it to lifestyle and income...and they'll line up outside your door.

When Ontario craft brewers become "crass brewers" and adopt the wine trade's practices, will we fall for that and be in the line-ups? I won't.

Return to “Random Talk”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 10 guests

cron