Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Assessing the early impact of beer to go

Image credits: Peticolas Brewing Co., Tupps Brewery.

At 10 a.m. on Sunday, September 1, a new era began in Texas as manufacturing breweries began selling beer to go for the first time. The right to do so was granted by a new law passed during the 2019 legislative session, this occurring after over a decade of lobbying efforts by industry representatives.

More than 25 breweries in North Texas were affected by the change, which promises to provide an additional revenue stream for these small businesses. The creation of new jobs was also anticipated, something evidenced by the expansion of taproom hours at some North Texas breweries.

As for the initial impact of beer to go, anticipation was high at places like Peticolas Brewing Co. in Dallas, where founder Michael Peticolas and crew packaged local favorite Velvet Hammer for the first time.

"Our can launch absolutely exceeded expectations," says Peticolas. "We blew away our sales projections and ran out of cans prior to our second canning run. And, taproom traffic has increased with beer to go. Those swinging in to purchase beer to go oftentimes grab a pint, and those grabbing a pint oftentimes purchase beer to go. It's been a big win for our taproom."

Early returns were also "EPIC!" at Tupps Brewery in McKinney, according to marketing and events coordinator, Katie Baker. There, the brewery celebrated the advent of beer to go by bringing back its immensely popular DDH IPA Series 2.

"September was an incredible month for us out of the taproom because of the support we received from beer to go," says Baker. "It was great seeing people walking out of the taproom with a six-pack in their hands."

A few weeks later, both breweries report it’s business as usual, with no real changes to production or distribution due to beer to go. The distribution question is a common one for Peticolas, but for those wondering, canned beers will remain a brewery exclusive for the foreseeable future.

"Cans in retail locations will happen, but not any time soon," says Peticolas. "We'll pull that trigger to spur growth as needed. Remember, we choose to grow properly, not quickly."

Regardless of what formats are available inside or outside the taproom, being mindful of the relationship retail plays in the overall success of the industry has been and will continue to be an important part of the process for all breweries from here on out.

"Our retail and distribution partners are our life blood," says Baker. "We price our beer in the taproom at what we feel is the market average, because the relationship we have with our retailers and distributors is crucial. It’s immensely important to us to keep those partnerships as positive and productive as possible."

As for whether the beer to go boost is sustainable long-term, that's a story still left to be told.

"We are curious to see how it holds up now that the initial excitement has worn off," adds Baker. "That said, there is still a steady flow of traffic coming to the brewery for the sole purpose of buying beer not found in the market, so we’ll continue working on taproom-only releases to keep things as exciting as possible."

Originally published as part of a special section on NTX Beer Week in the October 31, 2019 edition of the Dallas Observer. An online copy of the complete newspaper is available by clicking here.

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