Black Friday often conjures up images of anxious, motivated shoppers racing to stores, muscling their way through the crowds, and grabbing whatever featured bargain happens to remain. Determined to find the perfect gift at the lowest price, shoppers are willing to brave the elements and leave their maturity at the door as they pursue the ultimate retail deal.
Today, there is a new Black Friday craze sweeping America, but it has nothing to do with Samsung television sets or HP laptop computers. The new post- Thanksgiving shopping spree is all about craft beer and it has resulted in some amazing malt beverage products for consumers, not to mention some hefty prices and profits for brewers, distributors, and retailers.
When Black Friday Comes
This year, 2014, isn’t the first year for Black Friday and craft beer. It has actually been going for a few years now but it continues to build momentum and 2014 is the strongest year yet for craft beer Black Friday mayhem. This year, the brewery that best positioned itself for Black Friday shopping madness was Goose Island, the Chicago- based brewery now owned by Anheuser- Busch InBev. Goose Island released its highly sought- after Bourbon Barrel Stout along with a few other specialty beers. And across the country, other breweries debuted their own specialty beers on Black Friday, forcing craft beer fans out of bed a little earlier than desired.
My Own Adventure
Here at Great Beer Now headquarters in Houston, I decided to experience my own craft beer Black Friday for the first time. I knew that Specs, the largest chain of liquor stores in the area, would be selling several Goose Island beers and other specialty releases at its large downtown location. The doors opened at 10 a.m. and I arrived close to 9:30 a.m. The line was already quite long and I learned that some people had arrived several hours earlier.
Fortunately for everyone involved, the weather in Houston is often quite pleasant this time of year. It was in the low 60’s and sunny, a far cry from the cold, snowy weather endured by craft beer shoppers in other parts of the country. And once the line started to move, it was only a matter of minutes until everyone was inside the store, lined up and ready to buy.
Beer Lovers Remain Civil
I’ve experienced my share of Black Friday insanity in department stores, electronics stores, and the like. But one thing that was very different with craft beer Black Friday was the cool, calm, respectful attitude of those who braved the early hours in search of beer. It contrasted sharply with the zany, irrational antics of Black Friday shoppers looking for a new home entertainment system or digital camera. You might say ‘yes, but it’s only beer’, but I disagree. I have witnessed Black Friday shoppers displaying outrageous behavior over simple consumer goods priced lower than beer. The good natured, mature attitude displayed by craft beer Black Friday shoppers was far different and says much about these discerning consumers.
Another Year, Another Beer
Craft Beer Black Friday 2014 is over now, but it will return, likely stronger than ever in 2015. It was only a matter of time until Black Friday swept across the craft beer universe and I expect it will continue to expand in new and even more creative directions. Craft beer may not substitute for that 52 inch LG LED flat screen television the kids have been asking for, but you can get some delicious specialty beer on Black Friday and not have to worry about bruises in the process.