The reviews in for NB Liquor’s new Growler pilot project, and so far, they are mixed among small brewers and consumers.
On Sept. 11, The New Brunswick Liquor Corp. launched a new program to bring small microbreweries into their stores in Fredericton, Dieppe and Kennebecasis Valley.
At Fredericton’s Prospect Street location, the program has a tap to fill Growler jugs with Picaroons, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and another for any other beer chosen by the store.
Sean Dunbar, owner of Picaroons, said that this is a great opportunity for his business and others alike.
“It’s potentially good for all small brewers. Our mission is to make the world a better place, one beer at a time, and the more avenues we have to do that, the better.”
The locations with the Growler program are only available to fill your jug between 4 p.m. and 8:30 p.m on Thursdays and Fridays, and all day Saturday. Dunbar thinks that this could be a disadvantage for his product and customers.
“A lot of people want our product, so the more access the better. When you restrict that access, you’re not focusing on the customers’ needs and their wants. So the more hours of availability, the better.”
Kris Rogers is an avid Picaroons drinker. He admits that the Picaroons Brewtique downtown is much more convenient for people, especially since NB Liquor has restricted hours.
“Of course the extended hours of the Brewtique make it more attractive. The hours of NB Liquor won’t matter all too much, as this program is essentially a glorified sample station – at least until it is expanded to have a dedicated area and larger selection.”
He does, however, concede that NB Liquor carrying Picaroons could spark new customers into visiting the Brewtique.
“I think, if anything, the NB Liquor station for Growlers will benefit the Picaroons brand; it opens it up to a larger demographic of people who would regularly not visit the Brewtique — and having a smaller selection would ultimately send these new customers and Growler-lovers down to the Brewtique for a larger, fresher selection.”
Dunbar said the Picaroons tap at the Prospect Street location is on a weekly rotation. He also mentioned that when he was approached to be a part of this program, Fredericton wasn’t going to have a Picaroons tap.
“Initially, the program was explained to me that Picaroons wouldn’t be available at NB Liquor stores in Fredericton in Growlers; we would cross cities with the other small breweries. So Picaroons would go to Saint John, for example, Pumphouse would go to Fredericton and say Big Tide Brewery in Saint John would go to Moncton,” he said.
“So that we could give consumers a variety of beers that they don’t usually have access to. That hasn’t happened yet, but it may come later.”
Microbreweries are on the rise and an opportunity like this with NB Liquor can really help any small business. Dunbar just wants his brand to keep growing so people from every corner of the province can taste his great ales.
“Craft beer consumers want variety, they want change. They demand it constantly. We have a lot of demand for our bottled products across the province, but on the Growler experience, it would be nice for people to experience something that’s not usually available in their own towns.”