No matter where you live in this great nation of ours, when craft beer makes the front page of an illustrious newspaper like the Boston Globe, we should all rejoice, right? A story that appeared today (December 23, 2013) on the front page of Beantown’s venerated newspaper told the story of two women who operate a wholly new kind of business: a beer store. Read the Boston Globe story here.
Craft Beer Cellar, which has a few locations in the Boston area, stocks “more than 1,000 beers from 350 breweries.” Some beers are from local breweries, others are from breweries scattered across the country and around the world. The beer experts working at the stores teach you about beer as they guide you through your beer shopping experience. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it. But hold on.
According to one of the owners of Craft Beer Cellar, “No one has done this. No one has put everything on the line and said, ‘I can teach people about great beer.’ ”
Yep. It’s what we call a bottleshop. Although people in Boston might be unaware, and think “Beer store is still not a ‘category’ in the world,” there are dozens of them out here west of the Mississippi River. Obviously, I use the word dozens in jest. There must be hundreds of them.
If there’s a story here, it’s that the owners of Craft Beer Cellar are opening franchises. I’ll admit that I’ve never heard one of our local bottleshop owners talk about that kind of expansion, but the assertion that it is uncharted territory does seem to ignore the existence of Total Wine and More, BevMo and other chains. Those stores do indeed stock thousands of craft beers, staff their stores with beer experts, and have locations across the borders of many states.
According to the story in the Boston Globe, “Baker and Schalow [owners of Craft Beer Cellar] are betting their model can work elsewhere as they expand to New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as Florida, St. Louis, and maybe Seattle.”
Before they come to Seattle and try to sell us beer, I recommend that they learn something about what is happening out here in the Wild West, which probably seems like Southeast Alaska to people in Boston. Don’t assume “no one has done this before.” I don’t know if the idea of a beer store is unheard of in other regions around the nation, but here in the PNW it’s nothing new. Show up around here claiming to be original or unique and we will laugh you off the block.
We call them bottleshops and they are not some crazy, new thing. In fact, KING 5 TV (local NBC affiliate) does a Best of… poll every year. One of the categories is Best Bottleshop. Yes, even the most mainstream of a all media knows about bottleshops.
If Craft Beer Cellar really wants to succeed—here or elsewhere—they would be well served to come out west and see what our bottleshops are doing. Spend a few hours at Belmont Station in Portland, 99 Bottles in Federal Way (blog sponsor), The Beer Junction in Seattle (blog sponsor), or one of our many other beloved bottleshops.
I want to make it clear that the journalist who wrote the story most certainly knows what I’m talking about and is a certifiable beer geek. Don’t shoot the messenger. Journalists report the story, they don’t create it.
Also, I want to be clear about something else regarding the people at Craft Beer Cellar, who I presume to be perfectly nice, beer-loving people. I admire their enthusiasm and I applaud their success. I appreciate their desire to bring craft beer to undeserved markets and wish them luck in opening new franchises. Still, it would be nice if people out east recognized that back west we know a thing or two about beer.
And thus ends my Rodney Dangerfield impression. No respect.