Monday, July 10, 2017

WEEK 109--Craft in ASIA---to FOLLOW or to LEAD?

This is a somewhat leaning towards idealistic piece about craft scenario in Asia from a  Geek's "by-stander" point of view.

Here in Asia--people who are genuinely enthusiastic about investing time/ money/energy to either become a 100% craft-importer, run a full fledged craft beer bar/bottle shop are quite a rare breed--simply because there are other businesses that would likely bring faster return of investment- require lesser efforts in educating consumers or staff about the whole spectrum of what craft beer/mead is all about....
在亚洲,最普遍现象是,无论是欧美澳纽入口啤酒又或是有本土酿坊的城市,这三大类会是市场最通销啤酒,其一浅白易喝适合新人口味的pilsnerpale ale ,其二是不少人以为就是代表craft beer全貌的IPA,其三稍微“重口味”的stouts/porter
The fact is--craft beer/mead business is NOT for anyone/everyone- there's a certain level of enthusiasm/passion/beliefs needed for someone to want to dive into that black hole of running a craft business--and that's perfectly fine--we don't need just anyone or everyone to come running into craft businesses though end of the day--just like any other businesses--passion/beliefs alone won't be enough to make business sustainable--all businesses need MONEY to compliment any noble intentions or enthusiasm--and that's when things might get a little complicated here on....
Go to any cities in ASIA--and there's no surprises at all to find the 3 most commonly available beer styles would be:-
these 3 would probably be the best selling craft apart from the more commonly available Germans wit or Belgium ales.....

In a market inundated by MACRO offerings for decades--it's certainly not easy at all to run a craft business when majority who spend money on BEER still don't know there's a choice called craft beer, hence the question of :-
*do one set out to try and change the market drinking choices by introducing beer(or even mead) line up just as how the importer/owner( of bar/bottle shop) like/ wanted?
*play it safe--play it slow--go easy on the "difficulty level" of beer/mead line up--bring in those that would suits majority drinkers taste profile--build up the market share and be contented with the fact that it's sustainable craft
It's obviously NOT an easy choice--when one is putting in considerable amount of money/time/energy trying to build a craft business in a "minority" market, in any business analysis/forecast plan--the answer is obvious--a business need to first survive--make profits--be sustainable---then only one can talk about "idealistic ideas" of wanting to have awesome varieties of beer styles to "uplift" the taste profile / palate/appreciation level of drinkers. This is the cold hard truth of business and it shows in quite a many craft places over different cities across ASIA.

其实不只吉隆坡,对亚洲不同城市业者来说,如何选择也是个习题,是顺应市场绝大多数喝惯大厂啤酒消费者口味而只卖通销三大类? 还是说要本着引领市场口味而我行我素?当生意牵涉到金钱时间精力时,这个决定当然不是纸上谈兵那么简单。对啤迷来说,问题也凸显在这点,业者觉得市场不够成熟,新人朋友接受度不够,所以采取比较稳妥做法,尽量顺应市场口味。换个角度看,啤迷觉得如果业者不尝试引领市场口味选择,意味着新人们只能跟着业者脚步走,市场有什么就喝什么,碰上也是狂热啤迷的业者那还好,至少会有一些比较不同类别佳酿出现,如果遇到的只是稳妥做生意业者,那新人朋友大概只能三四年喝来喝去就那几支,或只能自己摸索前进了。
Is "going easy" on beer choices/line up a bad thing? From craft introduction point of view, the answer is NO--"easier beer choices" is actually good for craft to set foot in a minority market--it's good for newbies and it's good for business owners in terms of sustainability.
However--if we were to put the requirements higher--and purely from a GEEK'S point of view(i know--i hear you says why don't go open up your own)--then being safe and being contented with the same easy choices beer line up would equals to STAGNATION.

Yes--it's not easy at all to get brewers to want to sent their brew over to ASIA--especially those who gone big time hyped/ in demand---and it's a really time consuming/energy sapping/risk taking business to import/run a bar/bottle shop---but if we were to look at the very basics of market supply --in theory it would be craft importers/bar/bottle shop owners who would be the source of supply--meaning THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO CAN DECIDE WHAT TO SUPPLY HENCE LEAD THE MARKET-LEAD THE DRINKERS, because unless a drinker is buying on his own from overseas--drinkers can only buy from what's available locally, and if the operators don't lead--then who?

During a private bottle share recently here in KL, where we had some beers sourced thru own efforts, a friend who is more of a casual craft beer drinker said " if no one bring in these beers, then i will never know what is the different between awesome brew and a average brew--or say what's a NE style IPA..."

In ASIA--it's not realistic to wish or to compare with what our beer/mead friends who resides in US or EUROPE can get--the reality is such that when people in US can proudly says he or she don't drink IPA that's more than a week's old--we in ASIA can only dream of drinking that same IPA say maybe less than a month's old if one really seek for it on his/her own as it's very RARE(and don't really makes financial sense?) for ASIA importers to want to fly in fresh IPAs from US/EUROPE.

It's obvious ASIA cannot take US or EUROPE offerings /availability as yardstick--that's just too far fetch and not realistic--However, from a geek's point of view--trying to lead the market by introducing more varieties/ better brew would go a long way in elevating the taste profile/palate/appreciation level of drinkers here though it could be a case of 'easier said than done" in reality--the point is --if operators stays contented with the same old same old average/ mediocre line up or been going with the flow ( i.e. follow what easy beer drinkers wanted) for too long--perhaps it's time to see if a little varieties here and there would bring some surprises to the breaking of stagnation of both operators and drinkers palate? after all -is it not because of wanting to make a different that a craft business was chosen in the very beginning?

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