While traveling in Northern Indiana to visit Three Floyds brewery one summer evening I was told about a country bar in a small town that had great tenderloins. Indiana is noted for their tenderloins and it is an Indiana tradition I love to partake in.
I arrived at the local bar with notices in the window proclaiming “We Love Our Troops” and displaying American flags in all the windows. Upon entering I also noticed even more American flags hanging on the back wall along with red white and blue flashing lights across the bar. This most certainly was the “Heart of America”. I also found the bar very clean with lots of people, small children, and I was sure everybody knew everybody and that I was the outsider.
After sitting down the waitress came over to ask what I wanted to drink. I was wearing my “Drink Local Indiana Beer” shirt from last year’s Indiana Micro Fest so I asked “anything local?” She seemed confused by the question then directed me to the bartender. I then asked him what he had that was locally made. He proudly handed me a Shock Top. I quickly stated that no, that was not a local beer but a brand owned by a company in Belgium.
Still trying to satisfy me he showed me all the beers he carried (there were 45 different beers in the cooler). Only one was even remotely craft or local, Sam Adams Light. He then said he might have something in the cooler and he went took but came back and said no this was it.
Now I could tell the bartender seemed offended by my comments about local and there were a couple other people at the bar paying attention and I am sure they did not believe what I was talking about so I did not push it any farther. But I would guess if I went to everybody in that bar that night and ask them about Local Beers and local foods they would boast about the fact that they were buying everything local. Beer, now that is a different subject.
As a craft beer enthusiast and a beer wholesaler I find this scenario both common and frustrating. If I asked the sixty or so customers of the bar that night if they thought they were eating pork tenderloins from Brazil what do you think they would say? If I asked them if they realized all the beer selections there were from foreign companies what do you think they would say?
Now the question is if I believe that those consumers would buy something else (especially if it was local) then whose fault is it that they have no local beer choices? Does the problem lie with consumers, retailers, wholesalers or brewers? Do consumers even care? As a wholesaler could we or should we use that as a selling tool? In this scenario the bar manager was probably offended and that would make it an even tougher sale. But was he offended because he did not know? Or did he not want his customers to know?
By the way, the food was great!
Lots of room to comment here and I would like to hear it.