So you’d like to sell your beer in the DC area? Okay, that’s great. We like freedom of choice. It’s what America is all about. Here are some things you should and shouldn’t do when selling your beer here.
One, don’t half-ass it. Don’t just sign with a distributor and then sit back. The profits probably won’t come rolling in while you watch. Be active. One-point-one, hire a brewery representative: a rep, full-time, for this area. Baltimore to the north and east, maybe Loudon to the west, Richmond to the south. Can you do that? This person may very well be the face of your brand here. They’ll talk to consumers, bartenders, and package store staff. The good ones are great, and they make a huge impact, helping your beer stand out among the sea of other offerings on shelves and menus here. If you want to move product, hire a rep. It shows a commitment to the area, that you’re here and you want to be a player.
One-point-two: do stuff. Whatever that stuff is, I don’t know, but damn it, do something. Give away swag. One brewery gives away a bike, but even glassware is fine, so long as it’s not another fucking shaker pint. Have events. Sponsor something local. We’ve got major sports teams, minor sports teams, tons of culture, and roller derby. There’s plenty of ways to host a tap takeover, which, by the way, is not when you put your five flagships on at a bar. That barrel-aged sour thing you made three barrels of? Best bring that, too. You can (and should) be yourselves. You can be zany, but don’t just do nothing. And don’t be fake about it. Take that contrived crap elsewhere. Do you.
One-point-three (and, thankfully this doesn't apply to everyone, but unthankfully still enough that it warrants mentioning here): your sexist bullshit is getting old. You talk such a big game about how you’re not like the macros, but then you use sex to sell your beer? Yeah, nope. Knock that shit off. Don’t be like them. Sell your beer on its merits and on your non-sexist personality. And if you happen to have a sexist personality, see yourself elsewhere.
Two, everyone sells beer here. Really. Even the breweries that don’t sell beer here? They sell beer here, thanks to DC's gray laws. You are literally competing against everyone, though mercifully not at the same time because we can’t always have that cult California brewery’s beer on while also pouring from that place in Vermont you heard about. For draft lines, for shelf space, for the end of the row at the grocery store, it’s a competition. You’d better come correct. Make good beer. And good might not be good enough; make great beer, and do it consistently. Know the styles, and hit them out of the park. You can tweak them, too. Show people new flavors, fresh takes. And stop with the crystal malt in the IPAs, please. Enough.
Do all of the above. Over and over and over again. That’s how you stick around. And you’ll be rewarded for it. We’ve adopted breweries from Maine and Pennsylvania as if they’re our own. That’s because of quality, because of the reps, because of the distributors, because of the service. But again, if you half-ass it, it won’t matter if that beer is made forty-five minutes away. We won’t care. Best of luck.