Guest post: Be that guy. Ask for local beer.

Beer taps at the Yellow Dog Tavern in Winnipeg
Today we have a guest post by Brad over at the up and coming Manitoba Beercast podcast. His podcast will be focusing mostly on Manitoba craft beer from a perspective outside the Perimeter. I'm excited for the podcast to come out and who knows.. I might make an appearance once in a while.. we'll see 😉

Be that guy. Ask for local beer.

I'm the bane of Manitoba pub and restaurant servers.

I look at the bar menu, make that annoying little pursing of the lips, turn to the server and say "What have you got for local beer?"

Yeah, I'm one of those guys.  And you should be, too.

In some places in Canada, asking for local beer choices is not a problem.  In some localities, it allows a well-versed server to joyfully recite the establishment's taps and the contents of the bar fridge.  Five years ago at a New Westminster sports bar, the server merely stepped aside, did her best Vanna White hand gesture, and pointed to a 30-tap run of exclusively BC brews.  Oh wait...there was one lonely Molson tap at the end of the run. "That's for people who, um, get lost," was the answer.

Up until recently in Manitoba, asking that question could get you labeled as a freakin' pest.

Don't get me wrong.  In 2020, the craft beer revolution is going really well in Winnipeg.  Beerheads of all stripes can find their style of choice inside the Perimeter with just a little knowledge, and the willingness to burn a little gasoline.  Clusters of tasting rooms now dot the map.

But if this is a revolution, we've secured a few key outposts, but a lot of people have not been won to our side yet.  And the battle hasn't been fully engaged outside the Perimeter.

And, trust me, there are Beerheads in Rural Manitoba who want in.

If we want to continue seeing Manitoba breweries thrive, then there's two major fronts to engage:  a lack of information and physical availability of product.  They're linked.

Winning your friends and family over to becoming local beer consumers can be a challenge.  Multinational Macro Beer brands are equal parts quaffable and forgettable.  That's the reasons for all the top-down marketing.  A huge amount of that product tastes roughly the same.

Some folks love that quaffable stuff, though.  That puts evangelizing beerheads in the position of arguing that local beer means local jobs, and opportunities for local growers of inputs. If you're drinking Molson/Coors or Labatt/Budweiser, I want the opportunity to slide something your way that tastes familiar (yet better) but doesn't export profits to Chicago or Belgium.  Local money.  Local jobs. So, more and more folks can be convinced to "go local", once they give it five minutes of consideration.

The other roadblock is simple availability of product.  Not enough good Manitoba beer is escaping the Winnipeg Vortex.

(Hat tip to the exception to the rule, the folks at Farmery, who won over legions of rural fans by simply pledging to use Manitoba ingredients in their products.  You couldn't go to a BBQ in Westman without seeing those orange cans for a while.)

All things considered, there is a handful of great vendors and well stocked Liquor Marts, inside or outside the Perimeter.  I must testify that the master of this site had to stage a multi-year charm offensive to turn Brandon's Victoria Avenue location into the best stocked store outside the capital.  The vast majority of small vendors have a skiff of local product, if any, based largely on the persuasiveness of brewery sales reps.

But expansion of the "pipeline" of more local beer to more people means we must grapple with that old Devil, supply and demand. Unless people ask for Manitoba Beer, it's simply easier for vendors, bars and restaurants to keep offering B-d L---t Banana, or whatever the marketers and chemists have cooked up this season.

Always asking for local brew and having your buds do the same will eventually make more purchasers gamble on more and more local product.  And it really helps if you enthusiastically step up and buy that product when the vendor in question puts something good on the shelves.  If it languishes, it's not getting re-stocked.

Across this province, we have the opportunity to improve our range of choices.  We can get our friends to drink better beer, get more local product on shelves, and be pleasantly surprised when we ask people "what have you got for local beer?"

Follow Manitoba Beercast and Brad on Twitter!

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