By now you're likely aware the "trinkets" bill has passed in California, the bill sponsored by A-B that will allow them to provide gifts to patrons in bars and stores that value up to $5. I still don't understand how so many beer enthusiasts didn't see the big deal in this, but we're sort of a laid-back bunch overall so maybe I shouldn't question that too much. I won't dwell on the subject, it's done. Now we just get to wait and see how it all plays out.
That said, tonight I took Tracy out for a pint of Racer 5 at our local bar, Owl Club, in Old Roseville. This area of town is home of many bars with beers on tap, I think there are five within a couple blocks. The bars aren't great, admittedly, mostly dives and new hipster joints with Owl Club standing out as the place that has both character and good beer. While enjoying the pint and the Olympics I picked up a flyer on the bar promoting a pub-crawl this weekend. It starts at 7:30PM at another iconic Roseville bar, the West House, then moves to Owl and four other bars. I didn't see that there was any purpose for the crawl and nothing appeared to entice people to join in - it just was. Then I noticed something at the bottom of the flier, the pub-crawl was sponsored by Bud Light.
Now this requires a bit more legwork on my part before I can say anything definitive, but my guess is that all bars involved in this weekend's crawl will be pouring Bud Light at a discounted price, maybe with some schwag for beer guzzlers to take home with them. I want to be completely opposed to this whole notion, but part of me thinks it's absolute genius. Think about it (remembering I don't have all the facts) - you're a rep that wants to get your beer into a number of bars. Your margins are tight and there isn't a lot you can offer for freebies. What if you could convince five or six bars in close proximity to pick up your product for no other reason than to have a weekend pub-crawl, sponsored by your company. Now bare in mind I won't be the guy that likely attends such an event, but I could see this being a good model.
In my mind I see a scenario like this: Company A works with five local bars to "sponsor" such an event. Bar one may carry your flagship beer, perhaps a light summer seasonal. Bar two could perhaps carry something different from Company A's portfolio. This continues for a night of fun by people who appreciate a cold beer, even if they don't quite understand that cold isn't a flavor.
My second scenario sees a regional brewers guild putting something like this on. Stop one features a beer from Brewer One, stop two pouring something from Brewer Two - and on and on. Hell, if it works, why not make it a monthly crawl that allows brewers to switch up the taps and sample more brews? Who knows, I'm just a dreamer.
In short, the "trinkets" result sucks, but for years now large brewers have perfected the art of attracting people within the same rules we now long for. The new ruling certainly places California brewers at a disadvantage, but I don't believe the ruling is any sort of death nail for anyone in the state - no more than the hop crisis of nearly a year ago was. Like brewing, it may just be that our local brewers get a bit more creative about their marketing - if you're a beer fan, I suggest you embrace it (I know that "marketing" seems like a dirty word for many, but in a market like this it's imperative).
I enjoyed a pint of fresh Racer 5 at Owl Club and am still impressed with the beer's drinkability and overall quality. Tomorrow (Thursday) night they'll be featuring Moose Drool. For $10 you can get your first pint and take home the glass and a t-shirt! If you're in the area, stop in and don't leave empty-handed.
One thing the Olympics has driven home is how great it is to have commentator who know the sport they're covering. In many cases the folks behind the mic have experience in the sport and they don't seem to feel the need to be funny and say stupid things (I'm mainly talking about USA's coverage - not prime time). In fact I think the major networks could really learn something by watching and listening to the events covered by the other channel.
Sorry, so much to say! If you're a coffee fan and ever considered roasting your own coffee at home, check out the latest episode (8/14/08) of Basic Brewing Radio. The show is all about roasting coffee at home. It's not the most in-depth coverage, but is a pretty good introduction for those thinking about home-roasting.
Thank you all for the wonderful and kind emails the past couple of weeks that I've been on the road. I miss this blog and am saddened to see it so neglected. I think I'll be home for a good number of days in a row now, hopefully I can make up for lost time.