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1/3 of your beer was free - but not for you

Posted by Rebecca Kneen on

Freebies, kickbacks and the world of capitalist beer

One reason you don't see Crannóg Ales everywhere is that we are deliberately small and sustainable. The other is that we don't give bars kickbacks to carry our beer. There's this idea out there that it's totally reasonable to pay to have your beer on tap somewhere - and the rate is astounding. One keg in 10 free used to be the "standard", it's now commonly 1 keg in 3 or 4.

Here's what that all looks like: "Ok thanks for getting back to me. Depending on your kickback will determine if we give u a full time tap.  I have literally 100’s of other Bc breweries that offer kickbacks for a permanent tap as well as they supply glassware and coasters. I would be open to this, otherwise we will pass.  Let me know. "

Consider for a moment what your income would look like if you gave away 1/4 to 1/3 of your product. And gave your customers free swag and glassware (some companies buy TVs, game tickets and much more) on top of it. You'd either be broke or you'd have to jack up the prices on everything to cover the cost of all the freebies. Really, there's no other way that works.

So is it better to charge Customer A 500% over cost, then give Customer B a free keg for every 4 they buy? Or give them both the same deal, but charge each keg so much over cost? You'd wind up either ripping off one customer, or ripping them both off massively then giving them a bit back. It's a game: if I overcharge you but then give you a freebie, you'll feel more special.

What if you actually just didn't charge that much in the first place? What if you just set a price that allows you to make a reasonable living, pay your employees well and take care of them, and gave that price to everyone? That's been our approach for 20 years. We hope that this way everyone feels fairly treated, and we know we're not ripping anyone off. Unfortunately, it seems that people don't think that way. We would not dream of having our business make money on the backs of our suppliers, and we don't think the restaurant industry should either.

That's not to say that we don't love our customers and give them things when we can, but the idea of setting up our entire business in such an unethical way is repugnant to us.

Of course, with more and more breweries opening, and fewer restaurants, there's huge competition for taps. This has led to more breweries offering more and steeper kickbacks. We're seeing this locally to unprecedented levels - people are asking for payoffs for temporary taps now. Be forewarned: we will not only not give you kickbacks so we can go broke and lose our business, we will let people know who you are and how you do business. We'll let people know that you don't care about your suppliers, only about lining your own pockets. We'll let people know that you expect others to go broke as long as you can make money. We'll let people know that you epitomize the worst of capitalism. Hopefully you don't expect your staff to work one in four shifts for free as well.

Do we sound pissed? Good, because we are. We are sick of unethical behaviour being called "business as usual". We can actually do better, be better - and we owe it to ourselves, to society and to our children to do better and to make a better world, not a worse one.

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