I don’t see any right or wrong in the growing tasting room vs. bar debate. I like drinking great beer at either.
But here’s my take (and make sure you read this first):
Without on-site tasting rooms and restaurants, many small breweries could not sustain themselves. Likewise, without retail partners, breweries cannot grow.
No breweries, no beer, nothing to sell, nothing to boycott. Nobody wants that.
Everybody who cares about the future of Philadelphia’s craft beer world needs to sit down, crack open a cold one and sort this thing out.
I have a few suggestions:
- Breweries should consider brewing varieties that are available exclusively at off-site bars and other retailers. They’ll help send traffic to their best customers.
- Bars can make a stronger effort to promote local beers over out-of-town interlopers who grab inordinate attention by bathing the area with (often) over-rated rarities. It’ll be a sign that they believe local beer is at least as good as out-of-town brews.
- Bars and restaurants can host more events and tap takeovers featuring local breweries. Likewise, breweries can promote their retail partners at on-site events.
- Philly Loves Beer, the non-profit that runs Philly Beer Week and ostensibly promotes local beer year-round, ought to refocus its support of Philly-area breweries. Serving out-of-town beer at Opening Tap, partnering with organizations whose events feature only out-of-town beer, and sending campers to a brewery in upstate New York undermine its mission to promote Philly beer.
- And, finally, to beer enthusiasts: Support your local brewery, especially when you’re drinking at your corner bar.