Retail

How eCommerce Platforms Are Enabling Craft Beer Discovery

Entrepreneurs are creating platforms for beverage discovery after becoming inspired by personal experiences. When LocalBrews Founder Drew Harrilchak turned 21, he realized he didn’t know much about the beverage scene. “There are so many different breweries out there, and I had no idea about any of them,” he said. At the same time, he met a couple of brewers and started to learn about them. Harrilchak said most of them had a great story about how they got into brewing. As a result, LocalBrews is, at its core, “about telling the stories,” and showcases breweries in videos posted on its website.

The concept is described as “Denver’s beer of the month club,” which Harrilchak said specifically features Colorado microbreweries. Each month, LocalBrews features a different brewery and story. (This month, for instance, the site is featuring Mockery Brewery.) To sign up, customers visit LocalBrews’ website and choose the dates and times that work best for delivery. The site usually releases the next month’s video profile the week before shipments are sent. Although it is a subscription service,  Harrilchak noted that customers can sign up for a month and then stop using the offering.

The beers are delivered in crowlers, which are 32-ounce cans that Harrilchak described as conducive to sharing and great for two people. According to Bon Appétit, “These oversized containers can be filled on any ordinary tap line, but the catch is that you have to have a crowler sealing machine to cap it. There are over 600 machines being used in America, more and more breweries are offering crowlers as a takeaway beer option.”

As Harrilchak noted, there are “more craft brewers than there have ever been.” The last time he checked, he found there were 383 brewers in Colorado and many more trying to get licensing.

Harrilchak sees LocalBrews as “helping brewers distinguish themselves among a crowded market” to highlight the differences between breweries. These breweries are competing for a finite number of resources: Customers might buy, say, a six-pack per week, and the question is which six-pack they will buy (or in this case, a four-pack of crowlers). Harrilchak’s concept lets brewers get their beers into “the hands of customers who wouldn’t otherwise be trying it.” To get the beer to consumers, LocalBrews has partnered with a local liquor store that is already equipped for delivery.

The Alcohol Delivery Market

Beyond Colorado, Instacart said in an announcement on Tuesday (March 12) it has expanded alcohol delivery for customers across the U.S. Shoppers in 14 states along with Washington, D.C. can now have alcohol delivered in as quickly as an hour from grocers at the local, regional and national level, in addition to wine and liquor stores. Companies from which alcohol can be delivered include Kroger, Publix, Albertsons, Stater Bros. and Schnucks, in addition to specialty stores such as Binny’s Beverage Depot, BevMo! and Total Wine & More in select stores. To shop directly from beer, wine and spirit “aisles” of select retailers on the Instacart marketplace, users in participating states can now use a new in-app banner.

Instacart Chief Business Officer Nilam Ganenthiran said in the announcement, “Part of grocery shopping for many people goes beyond getting fresh produce, meats and pantry staples, and includes picking up the perfect bottle of wine for a dinner party or their favorite beer to sip while watching the big game. By working alongside our retail partners to add alcohol to the marketplace, we’re offering customers more choice and making it easier for Instacart to be their ‘one-stop shop’ to get the groceries they need – including beer, wine and spirits – from the retailers they love.”

From large, national apps to smaller, loyal players, alcohol delivery offerings are gaining traction in the marketplace to help consumers either discover new beverages or stock up for the big game.

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