Tag Archives: pay for play

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 11/9/16

Pay to play.  If you are in any way involved in the craft beer industry, you have heard this phrase.  What is usually meant by it is a form of bribery between distributors/breweries and bar/restaurants in which the bar agrees to put up beers for some type of remuneration.

In its most basic form, it is “here is an envelope of cash, thanks for the tap placements.” That has shifted to the rather rare “here is a bunch of money for festival sponsorship/advertising, thanks for the tap placements.”

Usually, it is done carrot and stick style with allocated releases.  In North Carolina when you go into a bar and it always seems to have Highland Gaelic on tap, it is because they want to make sure they get a ½ barrel of Cold Mountain in November. Every brewery and distributor who as a special release beer does this.  Is that wrong?

Here is an article from Good Beer Hunting that lays out what pay for play is in today’s beer world.  Hint, there is a lot of gray area. It is an interview with Chicago’s Longman & Eagle bar manager Phil Olson that explores the concept of pay for play.

Hypothetical, you are a bar manager or owner and you are talking to a brewery rep and they mention this really big festival that they sponsor is in a few weeks. Then, they ask, “Would you like some tickets?”  You say sure.  That is the end of the conversation.  He doesn’t ask you to buy anything.  He doesn’t ask to put 3 beers on tap.  Maybe you are someone he is trying to get into the fold and he is being nice in hopes you think about his beer the next time the distributor comes by for an order.  Is that pay for play?  What if you are already a good customer?

A rep comes to you and wants to do a tap takeover.  She says, “We will do the social media and print posters for you and we’ll bring in glassware and swag for the customers and the bartenders.”  All you have to do is put up 5 beers.  Is that pay for play?

I think this interview does a good job of laying out that what people see in their minds as pay for play is not what actually happens and is rarely how it plays out.

Most of your customers want you to get that special release.  Good distributors will remind you by pointing out the core stuff that fits your bars brand.  Take Highland Cold Mountain.  We should get a keg and at least a case of it this year, but at no point did we ever put up Highland Gaelic Ale which is easily their best-selling beer.  Our distributor made sure we got all the Highland beer that fit our bar and what we want to do.  That to me this isn’t pay for play.  It is good business on everyone’s part.  The brewery makes good core beer, the distributor makes sure his accounts know about it and the allocations, the retailer gets good beer year around and gets a reward for being a loyal customer.

I missed yesterday to go vote.  I’m not happy with the result, but I’m not moving to Canada or anywhere else.  Despite what some who voted for the winner may believe, I am an American.  I was born here and will die here and I will fight for a better America as long as I can breath.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 11/7/16

I have seen how large distributors use their size and deep pockets as an advantage.  Festivals get sponsored; advertising gets paid for, and taps get guaranteed. From its history, I’m sure Craft Brewers Guild is guilty of at least some of what Shelton Brothers alleges. Yet, I keep coming back to the idea, you can only bribe someone if they’re willing to be bribed.

I think of large distributors like bears or sharks.  They are large predators who just do what they do, which is eat stuff and maul people if they get in the way.  They are big and unwieldy.  You can see them coming and you can avoid them if you want to.

What bothers me is the number of bar/restaurant owners/managers who don’t want to avoid them.  In fact, they seek them out because this type of enticement is part of doing business.  The question I have is, should it be?  Maybe since I come from this from the consumer side, I don’t think like a bar/restaurant industry person foremost.  I see what I do as providing consumers with a fair choice.  I have this Pollyanna belief that if we deal with our distributors fairly and honestly and sell beer to customers at a fair price, we make money, the distributors make money, and the customers gets good beer.  I know, call me crazy.

When I was at my previous job in a big box retailer, I would see decisions made at the store and regional levels that made little long-term sense.  This lead me to think about how these decisions were made.  I drew the conclusion that these decisions were made because the people making them couldn’t think past their own dick.  One, 95% of these decisions were made by men and two, they were short term and immediate gratification.  I think long-term and I think in paragraphs.

Our popular conception of success is completely screwed up.  We measure success by the things you can buy with your money and not by the things you build and leave behind.  A hundred years from now, no one will know or care what car you drove, but they will remember the things you did.

In the retail and service industries, you can build your relationships with suppliers and customers on trust, honesty, and loyalty, or you can build it on doing whatever is best for you at the moment.  The thing life has taught me is there will be a point when you need help.  You will need someone to do you a solid to get you out of a jam.  Who do you think is more likely to help you out?  The person you’ve been taking bribes from or the person you’ve built a solid trusted relationship with.  History has taught there is no honor among thieves.

Good luck Shelton Brothers.  I think you’ll probably win some concessions from Craft Brewers Guild.  However, remember the world in which you operate is one where Craft Brewers Guild offered money and incentives and people willingly took them.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 6/15/16

There was a bounty of good articles today.  Here are the five that I like best.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 2/22/16

Here is a way late version of the Five Articles after taking the weekend off.  I could lie and say it was because I was working on another blog post, which is not totally untrue a tasting review will drop later today.  However, today I am late because I ate and drank too much yesterday and just got to a state of consciousness that allows me to write and communicate effectively.  Onto the Five Articles.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 5/13/15

The thing I’ve learned in doing this morning article list for the last couple of weeks is that there are a lot of little newspapers with websites around the country.  I’ve also learned that those little newspapers are sometimes the only conduit to news and information for many of these small communities.  Yes, they have cable and satellite and get their national news that way, but to find out what is happening in their backyards, they really need these local papers.