I was in a PCC Natural Market shopping for beer. I stood there staring vacantly at the beer selection when a guy walked up and asked, “Can I help you find something in particular.” Turns out he was the beverage manager. I told him that the beer selection was very nice but I wished there was more Washington beer on the shelf. “Like what?” he replied. I looked again. Racked my brain. He was right.
The store’s selection was not the issue. Their predilection for local product was not a question. Many of my favorite beers are not on the shelf and cannot be on the shelf. That’s why I get excited when I learn about a brewery adding more packaged product to the mix. That’s what Silver City Brewery is about to do – start offering beer in six packs of 12-ounce bottles. To further add to the convenience, they’ll be twist-offs.
The problem I witnessed at PCC that day was a lack of packaged product. We are largely a draft-only state. Beyond that, it’s the type of packaging. Sometimes you just want to grab a six pack but find your favorite beers only available in 22-ounce bottles. Bombers are great for home use, but less desirable when you are headed to a party and the host asked you to bring some beer.
I do not intend for this to be an indictment on our local breweries for not packaging more product. I understand the challenges, the realities, and actually prefer to drink draft beer. Still, we have so many award-winning breweries in Washington, I sometimes just wish local beer was more readily available for the general populace. The number of people reaching for craft beer is growing, but not everyone hangs out at good beer bars or shop in bottleshops. The grocery store remains the primary place where Americans buy beer (according to a Brewers Association industry report). Craft beer is no longer consumed solely by beer geeks.
We learned about the new packaging plan a couple weeks ago at the Silver City Brewery tasting room in Bremerton, where Kim and I were talking to Kurt Larson, Director of Sales & Marketing. He told us that they will introduce Silver City Ridgetop Red in 12-ounce bottles, distributed initially to the Kitsap County market only. In time, Saint Florian IPA will also be available in six packs. There will be a kick-off party at the brewery the 3rd or 4th week of January, when they will offer discounted prices on cases of Ridgetop Red.
Kurt tells us that, like so many others, Silver City Brewing appreciates beer packaged in aluminum cans, but for now they’re doing bottles. Cans may very well be in the brewery’s future, but right now they are confident in their ability to maintain quality when packaging beer in 12-ounce bottles. So that’s what they’re doing.
The plan is to start distributing the Ridgetop Red six packs in the West Sound marketplace only (Kitsap County and Olympic Peninsula). As time rolls on, the beer will make its way to Seattle and the I-5 corridor. Basically, they want to make sure they can keep up with demand before they start shipping to the Seattle area.
The brewery intends to follow suit with Saint Florian IPA in (about) June — releasing the beer locally and slowly before bringing it to the greater Seattle area.