Monday, March 14, 2011

So Long And Thanks For All The Dogfish Head

So, as you may know by now, last Friday Dogfish Head officially announced that they will no longer distribute in the state of Wisconsin. This is just the latest in a long line of defections - most famously, perhaps, was Stone's brief dalliance in the state. Perhaps a little less well-known was the microsecond that Boulevard and Steamworks spent here.

Of course, this doesn't bode well for those of us that like a lot of selection. It bodes very well for Wisconsin breweries looking to continue serving Wisconsinites beer. Perhaps most ominous is what this means for hopes of attracting other high-profile National (or large regional) breweries like Green Flash, Brooklyn, Surly, or Schlafly. Or what it means for other non-Wisconsin breweries like Upland, Squatters, or even a brewery like Great Lakes.

So, why does this happen? The short answer is that Wisconsin is a very attractive market for craft brewers. We drink, per capita, a lot of beer. We have a high number of breweries per capita (in 2008, we were 10th nationally [pdf], but 6th among states that actually had more than 25 breweries). Yet per capita income is barely in the top half in the United States. Which means that it isn't surprising that our percentage spent on craft beer, a higher cost, luxury, good is a mere 8%. Conversely, our cost of living is in the top 50%, as well.

While we don't make a ton of money here (we are right around the national median), it also doesn't cost a lot to live here (again, right around the national median). So, it shouldn't be a surprise that our consumption of craft beer, is approximate to the national average (about 7% by sales, and 4.3% by volume or so). But even look at that one statistic for a moment. 7% by share of sales ($), but only 4.3% by volume; that means that craft beer is selling for a lot more than "macro" beer, but it's barely making a dent in the amount of beer that is being consumed.

Let's step back and unwrap that all for a moment. We live in Wisconsin, a state where people make around the national average. Craft beer sells for a lot more than macro beer. There are a lot of craft breweries (as a percentage) in Wisconsin. So, if someone is going to spend their hard-earned money on craft beer, and there are a lot of local options, what do you think that means for Stone, Dogfish Head, Boulevard, and all of the others that sell the same product but have even higher price points and lower margins because of the transportation costs required to get the beer to you?


  1. It means i'm going to buy some India Brown Ale while I can.

  2. Bummer, I'm going to miss the selection for sure. I really like the Raison- among others. Tough call. We are fortunate to have such great craft breweries in WI. This weekend I did a 'Beermuda Rectangle"- Central Waters tap room Friday night, Saturday Bull Falls for the Bock, Red Eye for dinner/beer and managed to close O'so tap room. Just missed out of Marshfield's Blue Heron for a 'pentagon'. Do they deliver to Illinois? Road trip ahead?

  3. Dogfish Head is every thing that New Glarus is not. They deliver on taste, drinkability and creativity. They push the envelope and challenge the taste buds. I am going to miss them.

    Sincerely a sad Wisconsin beer drinker!

  4. Anony really?

    Are you judging that on Spotted Cow? Try some of the unplugged if you haven't, I think that is a real unfair critique of NG.

  5. To anon - While I half-heartedly agree with you (aside from Moon Man, NG's year-round offerings are a little on the timid side), you're completely missing the point. We have FAR more options than just Snowshoe Red and Spotted Cow. We have their unplugged series, we have Uff Da coming back in May, we have Dancing Man Wheat and Staghorn, and any number of other incredible offerings.

    What's more, we have Illumination IIPA (just out) or Ballistic to cover for 90/60min DFH. Hell, we can even get Hopslam if Illumination isn't enough. We have CW's Bourbon Barrel series, Tyranena's BGW, or Furthermore beers if you're still looking for beers that push the limits.

    Yes, DFH will be missed. Anytime we lose choices it's a bad thing. However, when I go to Woodmans for a 6-pack, I almost never walk out with DFH (or Stone, for that matter).

  6. Nice Beermuda Rectangle, Anon!! You made a wise move in central Wisconsin! RedEye makes exceptional beers. Right now, there is an AMAZING selection for the hopheads out there: Thrust ("regular" IPA that is oh so yummy); Serendipity, a mouth-monster of a DIPA; the new Black IPA which is a bit roasty but with a great hop aroma and flavor; Conquest, a very nice ESB...Kevin, the Yeast Wrangler/Brewmaster, is on the top of his game! You also lucked out with Bull Falls this past Saturday as Mike, the brewmaster, pulled out the fantastic bock--rich and malty and satisfying! Like Anon, I, too, will miss having the option of buying the seasonals/special releases of Dogfish Head. They were consistent and always flavorful brews. Here's to 90-minute, and while we're at it, the 120-minute!!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.