Crafty News

Starr Hill Invasion

7 Comments By Blake December 16, 2009

Starr Hill Invasion

Starr Hill beers are suddenly everywhere. It seems that every good beer bar around has two or three of them on tap. I have been thinking for months that Starr Hill must have an unbelievable sales rep to get so many bars to pick up their beer in such a short amount of time. The stuff just isn’t that good.

I mean it’s okay. Their Northern Lights IPA is a pretty good beer and their Dark Star Stout is decent, but why would decent beer be suddenly so popular down here. Why is it supplanting much better breweries on our area taps?

It turns out they’ve got deep pockets. While “technically” they are only being distributed by Anheuser Busch, they have mega brewery guilt by association. I have it on good authority that they are undercutting prices of other craft breweries to get their beers on tap throughout the region.

Craft beer is about passion, it’s about quality and innovation. Success or failure in craft brewing should be determined by the product, not slippery distribution games and bully marketing tactics. Those independent craft brewers have earned their place on our taps with years of innovation and attention to detail and we shouldn’t let them be supplanted by big business disguised as a microbrew.

Give Starr Hill the taste test. Compare it critically with other craft brews available in the area.If you choose Northern Lights IPA or any of the others on merit then by all means continue to “enjoy it responsibly”. But, should they fail the comparison, reach into your wallet and offer your favorite watering hole an extra dollar for a real craft beer. It’s a small price to pay for our soul.

Stay Crafty, My Friends…

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Your Comments

7 Comments so far

  1. I don't have access to any Starr Hill product that I'm aware of, so I can' t weigh in on the quality. However, if you take a look at their award history…
    http://www.starrhill.com/story/awards
    1999 – one GABF gold – good start
    2000 – one GABF bronze
    2001 – two GABF bronze
    2002 – one World Cup bronze
    2003 – one of each GABF bronze and gold – well done
    2004 – two GABF golds – pretty good
    2005 – two GABF silvers and a gold – again, pretty good
    2006 – nuthin'
    2007 – nada
    2008 – two silver – one each from GABF and WC.
    2009 – zilch
    Despite the subjectivity of beer judging, I'd say there's a downward trend here. It reeks of a sellout. I hope the real crafts in SoFlo don't get squeezed out too much, my friend. Keep up the good fight.

  2. Ed Roberts says:

    There are other breweries you probably enjoy that are distributed by Bud or Miller as well. In South Florida, two examples would be Brooklyn and Bells. Do they have guilt by association as well? I agree that Northern Lights IPA and Dark Starr Stout are the beers that appeal to me most as a beer geek. Their beers are meant to be approachable. If their beers are priced well in a bar and get macro beer drinkers out of their comfort zone and trying more flavorful beers I am all for it. Drink what you like, and try new things! Cheers!

  3. Blake says:

    I am taking exception here not to the distribution so much but to the idea that the brand is being subsidized into the market by big beer. I looked for a reason that this brewery might be springing up everywhere and found one. I admit it may be a faulty assumption. I get a little worked up about certain market dynamics especially when they threaten to endanger the success of those entrepreneurs that are the driving force behind craft beer.

    Thanks for the opinion, Cheers!

  4. CFByrne says:

    It's funny… I was at Coffee District last weekend with some Crafty folks. I ordered a Terrapin Big Hoppy Monster (their keg went in record time, Chung later said).

    "Terrpapin's out of my home town, Athens, GA" one fellow said.

    "Ahhh also the home of REM and the Indigo Girls," I replied.

    "Yes, Michael Stipe still plays local clubs in town sometimes."

    Which reminded me… "Dave Matthews started up in Charlotesville Virginia. And he and DMB members can still be spotted around the UVA hometown."

    "I've also been hearing a lot about this new Starr Hill beer lately," I added. "What's the deal with that?"

    "I rate at a B- or C at best" said one Crafy fellow. The others agreed.

    So that's my Starr Hill story. I'll give it a try sometime but not before many others.

  5. chilimoya says:

    I've tried the IPA. Not bad. But I never realized the A-B connection. Thanks for the muckraking Blake.

  6. Ed Roberts says:

    Trying to reach you guys at craftypour to invite you to a beer tasting for social media folks. Here's the link or email me at edwardroberts (at) gmail (dot) com. http://edroberts.tumblr.com/post/346724953/callin...

  7. Guest says:

    As is the case with any product attempting to "branch" out into new markets, the first major hurdle is securing a solid distribution network. Considering Starr Hill has an agreement with AB distributors, thats your answer as to all the sudden seeing the brand "everywhere." AB has a very strong distribution network thus enabling any product that is distributed by them to gain considerable distribution in a very short time. Then comes the "after" – that is will the products catch on and are they at a good enough quality level where consumers will want to continue purchasing. That to me are the unknowns that in time will no doubt surface. On another note, why not try a couple of great craft beers that are brewed right around the corner in Melbourne, Fl and The Florida Beer Company. Keywest Sunset Ale/Southernmost Wheat, Hurricane Reef Caribbean Pilsner, Pale Ale – these beers have been around a good while now and have won many awards and accolades and are as ggod as any crafts in the market today. They are a growing company that puts a lot into the "local" economy and soon to be launching some other styles of great craft beers.


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