An interesting flurry of ideas on Twitter this afternoon triggered originally by this statement by Halifax, Nova Scotia's Propeller Brewing Co.:
It was a tough decision. We can only sustain 1 brand (full time) at the @lcbo-Our IPA is our best selling brew...
It was part of a conversation triggered by Brian noticing that the brewery's ESB was being de-listed by this province's government store, the LCBO. In my turn, I too noticed as I have been drinking Propeller's ESB for at least 15 years. Two questions popped into my mind. Specifically, I wonder if I was witnessing another example of quotas being applied at the wholesale level. Last year I noticed how an Estonian brewer stated that only one brewer from the country could sell through the system. Despite courageous corporate effort to dissuade me, it was clear that the LCBO's buying principles were geared to a single placement. Does the same apply even to extra-Provincial Canadian brewers?
But more importantly, there was the general observation that an IPA was pushing an ESB off the shelf. Second perhaps to what can reasonably described as EastEuroLagGak - drearily samey "premium" lagers that likely offer a generous markup - craft IPA is making a move to not just take its place but to dominate shelves here and elsewhere. When something becomes mindlessly trendy like IPA has, it is hard to find fault if that's what the transient buyer now of beer (next who knows) wants - but it is also easy to see the unintended effect. There is only so much shelf space and if IPA sells, well, every brewer has to make one. And in a restricted or even, as here, monopolistic retail economy that means the variety of types of good beer gets restricted. In effect, the IPA has bullied others out of the store.
Is variety in the type of beer more important than variety of brewer or nationality. It is to me. I rarely think I want something Belgian or a beer by Beaus - however much I like that brewery. But I do often want a Belgian brown, a mild beer, a low alcohol stout or a nutty ESB when none are available. There are dozens of other sorts of beer I could list, too. The fifteenth IPA holds no charm for me. What I daydream about are the sorts of beer it may have shoved off the shelf.