Recent trends indicate that, by focusing on hyperlocal sourcing (i.e. using only local ingredients in their brew), many craft beer establishments are headed in the hyperlocal direction – which is good news for local agriculture, as using only local ingredients provides a boost to their economy. The great news is that other aspects of “hyperlocal” can help other local economies, as well.
The phrase “hyper local” was originally used in 1991 in reference to local television news content – therefore, it was originally intended to describe information-oriented content targeted at (or consumed by) people, or entities, that were located within a well-defined area (generally on the scale of a street, neighborhood, community or city).
Nowadays, “hyperlocal” has a broader meaning, extending to other types of consumables – and, in some cases, referring to more abstract communities. “Today it’s hyperlocal,” says Bart Watson, chief economist at the Brewers Association. “Local used to be in your town. Now it’s not just your town, but on your block.”
A few main ways that a brewery can be a part of a hyperlocal community are by using only local ingredients in their brew, by limiting their range of distribution, and/or by refusing to dispense their product in any way other than draft.
Without proper planning, each of these approaches have the potential to hinder a brand-new operation; using only local ingredients can be challenging (especially if a brewery isn’t ideally located), and limiting a product’s distribution to a smaller geographical area carries with it the potential to limit how far a brewery’s reach extends. Further, restricting the way the brew is dispensed may be off-putting to customers…at first.
Refusing to bottle or can beer, however, has an interesting side effect: it encourages fans to head down to the brewery’s tasting room, or to one of the local establishments with their product(s) on tap, to get their favorite brew. This fosters economic growth for the immediate area, and helps grow local businesses. It also fosters enthusiasm and support from within the community.
A hyperlocal brewery tends to have a very small market initially, and relies heavily on local fans and supporters to evangelize on their behalf – for these businesses, word of mouth is key and “buy-in” is crucial. Tote Glass offers a perfect vehicle for customer “buy-in” with its iconic Flip-top growlers (particularly those that have customized branding) – unlike bottles, cans, and crowlers (which are all bought, emptied, trashed, and forgotten), the branded growler allows for its own kind of hyperlocal distribution (i.e. sharing a great brew with friends!), and is a constant reminder and walking advertisement for "The Local Brewery."
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