Monday, June 13, 2011

In Fredericksburg, It’s Not about the Beer – It’s about Marketing and Selling the Beer.

I was in Fredericksburg, TX, this weekend – Barbara and I went for a wedding. It’s been years, maybe decades since I was last in this Hill Country town. It was crowded, a typical summer tourist weekend in F’burg…as with so many towns with their summer festivals.

Thanks to the Internet and the boom in craft-brewed beers, I knew enough to want to stop at the Fredericksburg Brewing Company (est. 1994); have a fresh beer or two. Did that first thing.

Barbara had a pint of the Pioneer Porter – smoked style, good. I coddled a glass of the brewpub’s Maibock which was very tasty. To my mind, it was the weekend’s best beer. The curious part: the same people who own Fredericksburg Brewing Company created the wonderful Hangar Hotel where we stayed overnight, 3.5 miles off Main Street at the airport. Lovely place, great room.

I was saddened to learn the hotel bar does NOT serve the beers from its sister company, the brewpub on Main. Strange oversight; maybe it’s regulatory. Kelly Ayers, Marketing & Events Manager for the associated companies*, confirmed it in a responsive email today:

We would love nothing more than to serve Brewery beers in the hotel bar; unfortunately laws for brewpubs are different than they are for microbreweries.

As a brewpub, we are only able to sell our beer on site; we cannot distribute to other retailers (even our sister businesses). We’ve been crossing our fingers that this law would be changed and have been watching closely Texas HB 660, which would allow brewpubs to distribute their beer.

You can follow updates on the bill on the Texas Legislature website. Right now it looks like it has been left pending in committee. If we can get a bill like this passed rest assured that we will not only have Fredericksburg Brewing Company beer in the Officers’ Club at the Hangar, but also in grocery stores!

By the way, I entirely agree with your review of the Maibock, it is one of my favorite brews!

Now one serious lapse is mine: Why didn’t I leap into the car and speed the 3.5 miles back to Main Street to buy a growler of the Maibock? And get back to the hotel lickety-split with that brew all fresh and cold? Well, I didn’t. My bad.

Passage of Texas House Bill 660, which Ayers mentions, is the consumers’ best hope for allowing craft-focused brewers to more effectively market and cross-sell their beers.

We can all help. It doesn’t even have to include drinking the beer – though that sounds strange. First, get your social media caps on. Go to Texas Beer Freedom on Facebook and sign up. Friend your local microbrewery or brewpub while you’re at it.

If your favorite bar or pub doesn’t carry fresh Texas microbrew, try a few encouraging words to the manager or the bartender. Because this post isn’t just for Fredericksburg and its tourists…it’s for all of us.

Think of this as our summertime “Freedom to Market” mission.

*To complete the set, let me mention that Ayers is also responsible for marketing the third of the sister companies, Fredericksburg Herb Farm. Photo courtesy of TripAdvisor.

No comments: