The Marketability of Brooklyn Beer

Flight of the Conchord stars

Yes, I know they actually lived in Manhattan on the show

Six Point brewery is everywhere in the DC area these days — dinner parties, beer store tastings, on tap at my favorite bars. It’s great. It comes in cans. It’s from Brooklyn.
The key point, I believe, here is the Brooklyn. A beer from Brooklyn is an easy sell. The main demographic for craft beer (white, male, 25-44, with a household income of more than 75K/year) is the same one that wishes they had moved to New York after college and started that band, written that book, launched that career as a stock trader/journalist/comedian/filmmaker or indie lay-about.  Selling Brooklyn is selling what could have been to the late 20s/ early to mid 30s crowd that abound in DC.

My husband falls squarely in that demographic. Every time we visit friends in Brooklyn, he is filled with a full thirty minutes of regret for never moving to New York. As we pull on to the Brookyln-Queens Expressway, and drive over the bridge to Staten Island (paying the $11 toll!), he wonders what could have been.  It’s not that we are too old to move to Brooklyn. It’s that we are too comfortable. We are now the proud owners of a house with five (count ’em!) rooms, easy access to big box stores and two parking spots. To live Brooklyn would be to give this all up for a forth-floor walk up with five dead bolts and bars on the windows. No amount of trendy bars, organic ice cream shops and cutting-edge baby onesie boutiques will entice me to abandon my central AC. This is the difference between 22-years-old and 28.

Because of this, Brooklyn sells. When I drink that can of Sixpoint, I’m sipping that short window between age 21 and age 23 and 1/2 when I could tolerate sharing a bedroom with three other girls in order to pay rent in the greatest city on earth. And who doesn’t want that! Buy me a six pack.

The question I have is if DC can sell.  With a handful of new DC breweries distributing locally, its not long until they will be begin the expanding throughout the East Coast. Like the Brooklyn breweries, DC’s crop feature their city in the name. There’s DC Brau, Chocolate City Beer and Three Stars. For them, success beyond DC is not so much about who has the hoppiest (yet full bodied) IPA or the most drinkable lager; it’s who has the cool.  

DC is a tough sell. The label “brewed in DC” isn’t likely to incite drinkers’ long buried desire to run for Senate or recall memories of that summer spent as an idealistic hill staffer. As gung ho as many DC residents are about the city, to everyone else in the county, we are where boring lives. We are CSPAN, lawyers and over-paid federal government employees. We are where taxes come from.

So while Six Point is selling Brooklyn to us (Yes, I could have been a documentary filmaker!), it’s unlikely that we will be selling DC to anyone much past the beltway (Too bad I went to law school, and I’m paying off my students loans working 60 hour weeks!). Sorry DC! Good thing I like in Alexandria, Va.

Comments

  1. Caroline says:

    Ha, yeah, I can’t imagine the appeal of a DC brand. One small objection to an otherwise perfect post, though: I think your statement “This is the difference between 22-years-old and 28.” could use some kind of qualifier, like “To me, this is the difference between 22-years-old and 28,”, as there are plenty of 28-year-olds in New York who have made the choice to live without central AC or access to big box stores (myself included!). I don’t think you could say there’s anything inherently less grown-up about one lifestyle over the other. After all, different 28 year olds value different things!

    On that note, come visit again! We can go crazy drinking Brooklyn-branded beer like 22 year olds (till we wake up with hangovers like 28 year olds).

    p.s., I only have 1 deadbolt on my door!

    • Emily says:

      Ha ha. I meant that I would chose to move to New York at 28. You already live there. You’ve had several years to get used to the tough life of the Brooklyn streets!

  2. Eric says:

    Interesting. While the Brooklyn craft breweries are certainly tasty this does somewhat explain why I can get a Brooklyn Lager in Cleveland, but I can’t get any Great Lakes east of Buffalo.

    • Emily says:

      Are you implying that Cleveland isn’t cool?!?

    • Caroline says:

      You know, I’ve asked a craft beer distributor or two why they never have Ohio craft beers, and they both gave me some explanation about Ohio laws being sucky, or something like that. I’m sure Great Lakes would do well here, but there are some kind of legal beer distribution annoying reasons why you can’t ever find them here.

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