Press Clips: Craft Beer Black Markets; Fake BrewDog Bar in China

Craft beer is insanely popular, yes, but unlike most things in vogue, it isn’t always easy to find. Since craft breweries produce far less beer than their macro-counterparts, a given brewery’s distribution is often very limited. Vermont beer drinkers, for instance, are geographically blessed in that they can find Heady Topper, one of the most revered beers in the game, in their own backyards while others must come from far and wide to get a taste of The Alchemist’s flagship Double IPA.

These circumstances have led to the creation of a black market, as one Vermont woman is being charged with illegally selling five cases of the beer for $825 on Craigslist, according to the Associated Press.

Five cases at retail value would run a customer $360, so the alleged hustle certainly turned a pretty penny before police intervened.

In the weeks since the brewery has had to close its retail shop due to traffic concerns with neighbors and permit complications, “a half a dozen posts have appeared on Craigslist — including from southern California, Chicago, and Boston” from people looking to buy or sell the beer, eliminating the need to pony up for a trip to Vermont, the article added.

The woman alleged to have been illicitly selling Heady Topper was, at the very least, selling real, actual Heady Topper. On the other side of the world some rogue entrepreneurs are trying to cash in on the BrewDog brand as it continues to grow in the UK and have opened an entire faux-BrewDog bar in China.

James Watt and Martin Dickie, the two BrewDog masterminds that never shy away from controversy, have written and posted to their website an open letter to whoever is responsible for the knockoff bar. Surprisingly, or maybe not-so-surprisingly, they seem happy to have had their unique identity stolen.

“I know that most organisations might reprimand you, condemn you and maybe even sue you for faking their logo and their bar concept, but speaking as the people normally being slapped on the wrists for rocking the apple cart in this industry, that would smack of hypocrisy,” wrote Watt. “BrewDog exists to make everyone as passionate about beer as we are, and frankly your choice to build a fake BrewDog bar in Changzhou – rather than a fake McDonald’s, a fake Starbucks or a fake Nike Town – suggests to me that we are getting there.”

While BrewDog has no intention of taking legal action, the guys who once stuffed a bottled beer release in squirrel carcassses do hope the imposters can come up with something more imaginative.

“If next time, rather than knocking up a do-it-yourself BrewDog bar with an odd red logo, you go one step further and have a stab at your own craft beer, then you will really be onto something,” Watt added.

As laws are bent to take advantage of the popularity of craft beer, so too are they amended to help brewers build on their success. The latest example of this is in Michigan, where House Bill 4709 passed easily through the state house – with a 107-3 vote – which would allow craft brewers in the state to produce 60,000 barrels a year, up from 30,000, should it survive through the senate’s regulatory reform committee reports The Morning Sun.

State Rep. Kevin Cotter said the cap was put in place in the early 90s to prevent alcohol abuse, but said the change was needed because craft is not typically abused the same way as hard liquor, the article adds.

Cotter said there should be no cap at all, but this is a solid starting point.

“It’s a great bill, it makes sense,” Jim Holton, owner of Mt. Pleasant Brewing Co., told The Morning Sun. “The craft beer craze in Michigan has flown like no other.”

Flying high may be why Michigan’s hometown Detroit Pistons are able to charge the second most in the entire NBA for a small draft beer at $9.

According to data collected by Team Marketing Report, only the Minnesota Timberwolves charges more, at $9.50.

According to Business Insider, the average cost throughout the NBA is $7.41, a 4.7 percent increase from $7.08 in 2012.

Fans of the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs save the most on suds, as the Chesapeake Energy Arena and AT&T Center charge just $5 (though for smaller serving sizes).

Knocking a few back at home before tipoff might be advisable.