In my opinion, social media has been a tool used by news outlets, business and social bugs alike to reach people in numbers never thought possible and has changed the media on a whole for the better. Of course, social media hasn’t been impervious to the pitfalls of instant information.
Thus is the case of New Glarus Brewing and the “news” of their impending canning line – not a canning line – that broke on Instagram at the end of January. It came complete with a photo of what craft beer fans thought was canning equipment being set in place with a forklift. The word spread quickly as it usually does on social media accompanied with a slew of questions from followers and eventually main stream media including: Does this mean New Glarus will be expanding? Will New Glarus finally be distributing outside of Wisconsin? Which brews will they be canning?
Allow me to answer those questions: No. No. and None.
You see, mistakes were made but no one was hurt. The photo was posted by a misinformed intern and was actually of a new kegging line, and that is actually very exciting news for New Glarus and my fellow Spotted-Cow-chugging Wisconsinites. However, the news is not so good for anyone who lives outside the Badger State hoping the faux can line was a prelude to the elusive beers of New Glarus finally being within their grasps.
How do I know this? After I saw the photo and read the rampant speculation on the web – overwhelmingly on reddit – I called New Glarus for clarification. Founder and President, Deb Carey, was gracious enough to chat with me and explain the mix up and some other things pertaining to the state of New Glarus beers. Deb is definitely an easy going and charming sort, who held no ill will towards the intern responsible for the Instagram mistake, and to be fair, the intern owned it with a retraction-like post.
Once the air was cleared about the non-can line that is in fact a new keg line, Deb discussed how the new line could help double their current barrel output, which again is great news for the state. Carey went on to explain that with sales up 20% and one in ten draft beers sold in Wisconsin belonging to New Glarus, the need for more barrel output was a necessity. Moon Man, a session pale ale, has become so popular in Wisconsin – rivaling Spotted Cow – that, according to Carey, it outsold all New Belgium beers sold in Wisconsin combined in 2015. That’s mind boggling when you think about it.
The prospect of New Glarus expanding their beer outside of Wisconsin is most likely an improbability in the foreseeable future.
“I don’t know what people think it takes to make beer, but it’s a lot of work and time,” explains Carey. “The brewing expansion would have to be huge. I listened to a thousand offers [to sell] that would expand the beer outside of the state.”
But that’s not what Deb wants, and in a time when we are continually reading about craft breweries selling to mega corporations, that’s exactly the sort of thing Brew Studs loves to hear. I have a keen sense that Carey is content with the market she currently has and the fact that Wisconsinites feel as if New Glarus beer is something special they can call their very own.
Oh, and canning their beer… it’s not necessarily off the table. As Deb Carey put it, “never say never.” That should keep hope alive for out-of-state craft beer fans who dream of ordering a pint of Spotted Cow at a local pub or seeing it on shelves some day.