For a brewery like Garden Path Fermentation, which makes mixed-culture beer, cider, and wine packaged in full-size bottles that cost $15 to $25, DTC shipping presents an opportunity. The BA reported that Garden Path made 125 BBLs of beer in 2021, putting it in the bottom third of beer makers in the country by volume.
“We are a niche grower located in a somewhat remote area and our customer base is really going to expand across the world,” says Ron Extract, co-creator of Garden Path. The excerpt cites two recent beer festivals he has attended as examples: At the Pittsburgh Mixed Culture Festival and the North Carolina Home State Festival last August, Garden Path served its beer to customers who deliberately seek farmhouse and mixed-culture beers. Some of these drinkers have expressed interest in buying Garden Path beers, but unless they live in or visit Washington, there’s no way to buy them legally. These drinkers are exactly who Garden Path would like to sell beer to: consumers who care enough about mixed-culture beers to pay between $60 and $115 to attend a festival focused on these niche styles, and then spend similar sums to ship these beers. around the United States
Meanwhile, according to Extract, major retailers and even specialty bottle stores in Washington state have reduced the space they devote to mixed-fermentation, Farmhouse and Saison beers in recent years. While grocery chains were likely never going to supply Garden Path, declining interest from craft-focused bottle stores — the retailers who should be the biggest advocates for a small brewery — is dealing a blow. hard on sales opportunities.
“Grocery stores are always going to go with what’s most in demand, but even a lot of beer stores and specialty bottle shops, we’re also seeing the type of products we make somewhat pushed aside,” says Extract. “They’re now also dominated by what’s trending…a huge selection of fruity IPAs, Hazies and Kettle Sours.”
Of course, retailers have an incentive to stock the most in-demand styles of beer, and lately, large-format mixed-fermented beers have sstruggled to find mass appealI. But that’s exactly where the advantage of DTC shipping comes in: there are always fans of these beers, but they’re not necessarily geographically concentrated near the breweries that make them. And as the beer has gained more drinkers across the country showing interest, this kind of geographic spread is likely to continue.
“DTC is not for everyone. Actually, it’s not for the most part, which is why it’s hard for us to get this through the legislature or even with the blessing of our guild,” Leigh says. “It really only works for higher margin products.”