Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Flying Dog Brewing and Local Demand

This article in the Chicago Tribune is disturbing.  The link is here but newspapers are notorious for changing their link locations, so if you are reading this a few months from now, here is the important part of the piece: 

Beer makers such as Flying Dog Brewery of Frederick say they're dropping out of distant markets to focus on selling more beer at home.The strategy reflects the growing thirst everywhere for boutique beers made by breweries that simply can't make enough to meet the demand.

Instead of shipping beer across the country, these companies are following the lead of New Glarus Brewing Co. of Wisconsin. President Deb Carey says they decided in the late 1990s to pull out of Chicago and sell beer only in their home state.  

This potential trend is certainly bad news for the local beer industry.  Great breweries such as Flying Dog are the most likely ones to pull out of distant markets because they have the stronger local demand.  The mediocre brewers can probably ramp up production to meet distant demand since they use cheaper ingredients anyway, or they are already owned by a big industrial brewer who can carry them on their distribution network.

Either way, this could potentially mean more mediocrity in the beer available locally.  Chicago has had some pretty solid local brewers pop up; but none compete with the brewers that have pulled out of here or are about to, namely New Glarus, Surly, and, apparently, Flying Dog.  My brother told me that the Flying Dog Double Dog Pale Ale is one of the best beers he has ever tried; and it is indeed terrific and will be missed locally.  

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