With the popularity of craft beer, it seems like everyone wants to get in on the action, including Walmart.
Yes, Walmart. According to the thestreet.com, the Arkansas mega-supermarket chain has begun selling several varieties of brew — Cat's Away IPA, After Party Pale Ale, Red Flag Amber, and 'Round Midnight Belgian White — that come in 12-packs for $13. In California, the company has debuted a brand called Pacific Drift.
The beers appear to be made by Rochester, New York-based Trouble Brewing. It may seem like another gimmicky idea, but it makes perfect sense. In the face of Anheuser-Busch InBev buying ownership in craft breweries throughout the U.S., Walmart is the latest large corporation attempting to tap into some of the craft beer
As if Walmart wasn't already the go-to retailer for everything you need on a 24-hour basis — including being the main retailer for small, rural municipalities across America. Now it appears to have its own brand of beer.
This would seem to be the antithesis of the craft beer movement's entire ethos. Many of the local craft breweries across South Florida take pride in being independent and have vowed to stay that way. Knowing this, New Times asked one local brewer, Adam Feingold, what he thinks of Walmart's proposition.
Feingold, along with partner Matt Giani, opened Bangin' Bango Brewing Company in 2015. Feingold is also a BJCP-certified beer judge.
Considering the pride of being independently owned, his answer toward Walmart's latest move might not be what you'd expect to hear from a local brewer.
First of all, Feingold prefaced by saying, "Anything that spreads the word of craft beer is great" and thinks it'll shake up the macro market, pushing people to try different things.
But there is a caveat. What concerns him most is Walmart's having built-in success because of its massive existing distribution networks.
"Are they going to delve into that market for alcoholic beverages?" Feingold says. "If they do, they could lowball their prices and push their brands on retailers because they can hit certain price points — in relation to distribution, that is."
Time will tell if consumers will pick up Walmart's craft offerings. And, if they do, will this then bring new customers to local breweries? Or will it create a challenge to the market that craft breweries have created?
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