Grocer X: Don’t let me sell you craft beer

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In the great state of Colorado, we grocers can’t sell “real” beer, wine or liquor. Though we still dedicate a sizable section of stores to the Millers, the Coors, Buds and the like, they’re just watered-down, 3.2% ABV versions of the drunk-inducing suds beer drinkers look for. Our measly, corporate selections can’t compete with the full-bodied, aromatic, hoppy or any other poetically described craft beer that true Coloradans know and love. We want to jump on the craft beer bandwagon.

Come 2016 — yes, I’m talking politics now — you may see an opportunity to allow the grocery industry to embark into the world of full-strength alcohol sales. We hope you jump at the chance to see your favorite local crafters adorn our shelves with "member savings" tags hanging from a plethora of stouts, pilz, browns and IPAs. What wondrous joy, Kraft Mac n’ Cheese and a double IPA on the same receipt? Sounds too good to be true…
It is. The truth: You don’t want grocery chains jumping into full-strength alcohol sales because we will put an end to craft beer.

Craft beer is referred to as such because it is a craft; it takes time. It takes time not only from the brewers — perfecting their concoctions with artistic form — but also from those lucky enough to indulge in its completion, relishing the magnificence just as they would a piece of fine art. Taking the necessary time to either brew or indulge is not convenient; it’s a dedication.

We here in the grocery industry are dedicated to convenience. We pay attention to what goods you want to buy, then we package the most popular brands of said goods into nice, convenient displays around the store. Mass quantities are convenient for us. We need to be able to order an incomprehensible amount of the goods our customers are looking for — nationally advertised brands that people know and therefore don’t think twice about buying. See where I’m going with this?

Craft Beer isn’t convenient for the grocery industry. That means we can’t [won’t] make it convenient for you, it’ll cost us too much. You can’t expect us to stock a gluten-free, dark chocolate stout for the one to five customers buying it regularly. A red wine and spirit barrel-aged Sour Black Stout? Yeah, right, like we can advertise that kind of fermented obscurity to the masses with the slightest breath of professionalism or knowledge. Forget about your beloved limited releases; remember, mass quantities.

Instead, given the opportunity, we’ll fill our liquor aisles with “real” Miller Light, Blue Moon and Shock Top — a couple truckloads of Colorado Native should add a little credibility, right? We’ll try to take your mind off craft beer completely with a stout selection of Yellow Tail, Moet and Carlo RossiZima, anyone?

Diverting your mindset from craft to corporate liquor will be easy for the most part, sans the group of forever faithful, like I said; convenience is king. Soon enough, we’ll sap the life-blood from crafters far and wide by filling carts with crappy, convenient beer. We’ll be making money and our customers will still be drinking, something. That’s all that really matters to us. Don’t believe me when I tell you we love craft beer.

Thank you for shopping with us.

The man behind the apron is Craig Lemley, digital content coordinator here at the Indy. The Colorado Springs native spent nearly a decade working in grocery stores across the Pikes Peak region before retiring his produce knife for a surprisingly less-stressful media career. Follow him on twitter (@_CraigLemley) or send questions/comments to clemley@csindy.com.

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