For those of you who may not be aware, Arthur's Cafe in Hyde Park has been making some news lately (I hope the link stays working). They are converting all six of their draft taps to only local beer making them the first establishment in the city to do so. I wanted to take a moment to expound on some of the ways in which I think this is a HUGE deal in this town.
1. It's not just a marketing ploy.
Well maybe it is a little bit. But its the RIGHT kind of marketing. Arthur's is a local establishment. Arthur's is a small business. As Chris states in the video, a big part of this whole thing is about supporting other local small businesses (aka the breweries). A lot of people like to wave the "support local" flag. Sometimes it's lip service and sometimes (such as this) it's not. Arthur's is really putting their ass on the line here. Some of the old standby beers that they have had on tap for quite some time are going away and they may risk alienating some of their regular customers by this change. Still, they are willing to give this new concept a try and for that I commend them.
2. This wasn't possible just a few short years ago.
The whole Mark Twain quote about Cincinnati being 20 years behind the rest of the world is sometimes more reality than hyperbole. If you travel to some other states such as Colorado and Michigan you will generally find a larger number of local taps in bars than you will regional and national brands. Here at home that really hasn't been possible until now. There simply weren't enough local options. With the new guys that have opened lately (yours truly included) and a few more that are coming down the pipe, the excuse that there just aren't enough local brands no longer holds water. For all of those folks out there that like to talk about Cincinnati's great brewing tradition, well guess what....we're bringing it back and here is the first big indication of it in my mind.
3. It will hopefully become a harbinger of things to come.
OK...this one is partly a selfish reason. As I have been out self-distributing my product in the last few months I have noticed a lot of bars with a lot of taps that may only have one local beer at most (and sometimes none). Granted it is certainly their perogative to sell whatever products they wish and I am totally fine with that. Still, I can't help but think that maybe they don't realize that there are more options out there and maybe they are somewhat "afraid" to serve more than one local beer. I hope that if the Arthur's change to all local goes well maybe other establishments will experiment with putting more local beer on tap. Not necessarily all their taps but to get 2-3 out of the sometimes 20+ isn't too much to ask is it? Of course this means I (hopefully) get to sell more beer thus the selfish comment. But more than that it means more local options in more local establishments for more local people.
So hopefully this doesn't sound too preachy. I'm not trying to insinuate that people should only drink local beer. There's too many other good beers out there for that. I just hope that someday we can have a great beer culture in this town similar to what can be found in places like Portland, Denver, or most everywhere in Michigan. I think we are well on our way but there is still work to be done. To that end I think this commitment by Arthur's is a big step in the right direction. If you do to then get out and support it and your local breweries wherever they may be poured!