Friday, November 6, 2009

New Pubs Aplenty

Friday. Beeronomics day. But I am busy and later I shall be making my own beer, so I'll farm this beeronomics post to the Portland Biz Journal.

Here is a teaser:

Even though it won’t open for two months, success could be on tap for Coalition Brewing.

The new brewpub will occupy a neighborhood, near Portland’s East Burnside Street and 28th Avenue, known for innovative restaurants and bars. Coalition’s space is also well known because it formerly housed the popular Noble Rot wine bar.

Coalition will join an industry that, thanks to Oregon’s brewing pedigree, is sizzling. Coalition is one of 15 breweries or brewpubs — which sell beer made on the premises and food — that will have started operating in Portland between summer 2009 and early 2010.

The 2009 openings, which roughly double 2008’s, defy national trends. Just 80 such operations will open across the country this year, down from 112 in 2008.

The openings stretch from Portland, where eight new pubs or breweries have begun or will begin operating, to Joseph in northeast Oregon.

“To see so many opening in one state is highly unusual,” said Paul Gatza, director of the Boulder, Colo.-based Brewers Association. “But Oregon does continue to be fertile ground for craft brewing.”

Monday, November 2, 2009

Artisanal Products and the 'Novelty Curve'

Busy day today (week actually) so I'll farm this one out to Beervana blogger Jeff Alworth who has a fascinating tidbit about what Karl Ockert of Bridgeport calls the 'novelty curve.'

Here is Jeff's quote from Karl:

"Every beer that comes along goes through a novelty curve, and ours is no different. [Brewery X] is the current big one on the streets. They’re going through a novelty phase where people are out there trying and sampling. All breweries go through that. If I left BridgePort now and went out and started a new brewery, I could do the same thing. I could take tap handles right and left and get a lot of sampling. But it’s that “stayability”—being able to develop loyalty. That’s the tough part."

This is true of lots of industries, especially ones in fashion (Crocs), technology (Palm) and food (restaurants in general). There is always a new trend, fad, technology, chef, whatever that captures the attention of consumers. But artisanal products like beer are particular in my mind. They can be recreated faithfully over time like cheese, bread, etc., but are always subject to new varieties and tastes. So it has always seemed to me a challenge to stay faithful to the core products and yet maintain interest through new creative pursuits. Bridgeport and Deschutes seem to me the exemplars of this strategy at the moment with their core beers and their special offerings (Stumptown Tart, The Abyss).

But overall this says to me that the market for craft beer is exceptionally healthy. From a Schumpeterian point of view this innovation and creativity will leave some breweries behind, but this is all part of a healthy creative destruction process. So it is both a pretty exciting time and a pretty scary to be in the business, bit overall it seems lie a market that has huge potential to keep expanding for a long-long time and the winnowing out of less exceptional and creative breweries will actually help this process.