Imagine a wine bar, populated by the usual patrons. Stan reviews the long list of pinot noir, cabernet franc, traminette, and tempranillo local wines. He ultimately orders a glass of Almaden jug white Zinfandel. He enjoys it, but is it appropriate?
We have been to many breweries and brewpubs which, somewhat inexplicably, offered mass-produced commercial beer. The Rogue bar in San Francisco listed, “Bud Light, no joke.” At Madison Brewing in Bennington, VT, we saw someone drinking a Sam Adams beer. In contrast, Copper Creek in Athens offers only their beers, and, when asked for some mass-produced beer, explain that they offer only their own craft-brewed beer.
On one hand, this is similar to going to an Irish pub and ordering a taco. The whole reason one goes to an Irish pub is for bangers and mash, fish and chips, or similar. Why would you order a taco? Go to a Mexican restaurant if that’s what you want.
On the other hand, I remember a quote from a brewpub owner at the Great American Beer Fest who said something like, I am in the brewpub business- which is to say, the restaurant business. This suggests that brewpub owners are really selling food, with their beer as a draw as opposed to the focus.
So, craft brewers face a dilemma. If they only offer their own beers, they risk turning off a large portion of customers who insist on mass produced beer. If they offer mass-produced beer, they risk diluting the effect of their own efforts to spread delicious beer. From the brewer’s perspective, we have no answers. From the consumer’s perspective, we believe that customers should be there to consume the product that the brewer is producing. So, drink the beer they make there!