During the final stop of last week’s Brew Talks West Coast Tour, Brewbound had the opportunity to examine a variety of beer industry trends with Lost Abbey partner Tomme Arthur.
Among other top-of-mind issues, Arthur tackled quality concerns, rotating tap handles, and franchise laws.
So what’s he think about some of the newest brewers to launch in San Diego?
“I personally don’t get to a lot of the new breweries in this town but I can’t imagine that if there are 90 breweries and 130 [on the way] in San Diego, that they are all making good liquid,” he said.
Using Wine Country as a comparison, Arthur argued that more doesn’t always mean better.
“If you go to Napa Valley, there are over 200 wineries that get to claim ‘Napa Valley’ on their bottles and they don’t all make good juice,” he said. “If we have 130 breweries in this town, I guarantee you they won’t all make good beer.”
Beer quality aside, a saturated marketplace creates stiff competition for draft handles, which causes headaches for established brands like The Lost Abbey. San Diego publicans who have traditionally supported local craft brands are now faced with tougher choices when the time comes to decide who gets on tap. To solve the problem, many owners have opted for frequent rotation, and Arthur’s not a fan of the tactic.
“There has got to be some stuff that is predictable on the list,” Arthur said. “I don’t mind rotating handles in the sense that, a bar wants to bring things in and create new, but at the same time if I don’t want to drink 20 different new beers or see 20 new things in a night, I am kind of turned off by that,” he said.
During the conversation, Arthur also addressed the need for franchise law reform, but took a more bipartisan point of view. He said that he “understands the need for those kinds of laws,” and doesn’t believe craft brewers need to “go chopping the whole thing apart.”
Nonetheless, Arthur feels that craft brewers who choose to “open up in a state with very oppressive, restrictive three-tier stuff,” should work on changing the laws.
“It is one thing to bitch about it; it’s another thing to do something about it,” Arthur said.
In the video above, Arthur and Brewbound editor Chris Furnari discuss a dozen different industry topics.
Additional video coverage of the entire Brew Talks West Coast Tour is available on Brewbound’s YouTube Channel.