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The Beer Store’s Big Ten

December 27th, 2008 · 7 Comments

Recently I was in The Beer Store staring at the famous label wall.  For those who don’t know, the “label wall” is the menu of beers that are available at The Beer Store.  It’s a large grid with labels of every brand, with their packaging formats and pricing right below.  It’s a poor retail experience as it eliminates browsing or looking at the packaging of the beers available (except for the few in the Ice Cold Express).  You basically need to know what you want before going in, as the label wall doesn’t do anything to help you choose.

Generally this works to the advantage of big brewers, as consumers will probably order what they know and shy away from trying new products they aren’t familiar with and can’t see.  But there’s something else at The Beer Store now that even further keeps craft beers away from the consideration set of consumers – The Big Ten.

The Big Ten is a section of The Beer Store’s label wall dedicated to, presumably, their top ten selling brands.  This section has a larger prominence on the wall, bigger label display sizes and even written brand descriptions.  The Big Ten are: Coors Light (Molson), Canadian (Molson), Budweiser (Labatt), Blue (Labatt), Carling Lager (Molson), Lakeport Pilsner (owned by Labatt), Keith’s (owned by Labatt), Bud Light (Labatt), Lucky Lager (Labatt) and Corona (represented in Canada by Molson).  That’s 6 brands of Labatt, 4 by Molson.

Now I won’t argue that the top selling brands are actually all from the owners of The Beer Store (Molson and Labatt), but it is quite obviously self-serving to promote these brands above all else.  The fact that they are the top ten selling brands gives The Beer Store a convenient excuse to showcase their largest brands and no others.  The Big Ten are also the only brands featured on The Beer Store’s web site as well.  If you want to find another brand, you must search for it, not unlike the in-store experience.  You need to know what you’re looking for in order to find it.  How about a feature wall “top ten brands you haven’t tried before”?  Not very likely.

The Big Ten is prime example of The Beer Store ignoring the interests of the craft beer consumer.  It keeps the large brands of The Beer Store owners front-and-centre and does nothing to help a consumer try something new.  We need to keep pushing to allow for competition in the beer market and allow for specialty stores which will give craft beer the prominence it deserves.

Tags: The Beer Store

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7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Chris Storey // Dec 31, 2008 at 8:35 am

    This is one of the reasons I make my own beer. I just don’t like the way the Beer Store sells beer. The “Big Ten” is a disgrace. All lagers and none of them have any flavour. When I was in Alaska in 2005, I went to a small plaza. I found a small beer store just loaded with hundreds of micro-beers. A small bar with 5 barstools accompanied it. Wow!! I sat down with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and chatted to the owner about how our beer is sold in Ontario. He just couldn’t believe it and said that he wouldn’t make a living in Ontario. Yup. As long as the foreign owned Beer Store has our Ontario government in their back pocket, no one else will either. Boycott the Beer Store. I have!!!

  • 2 Rob Cavanagh // Apr 28, 2009 at 12:07 am

    It’s hard to find decent beer in the GTA where I live. I agree, the ‘Top 10’ brands are watery swill with no full taste to speak of. Some of them are “alright” but even then usually only from a keg or bar tap.

    If I do buy at the Beerstore, I don’t buy any of the brews they are so proud of. Not to mention as a greenhorn to beer I am unable to find truly great brews at a decent price.

    I support the movement to “free our beer”.

  • 3 Brick sued by Labatt - Red Baron vs. Brava | Free Our Beer // May 19, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    […] release also points out something we’ve raised here before, that consumers generally have to ask for Brick by name.  The label wall and general lack of […]

  • 4 Thomas Spielmann // Jun 7, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    I would like to offer this new invention to you at absolutely minimal cost.

    Have I raised your interest in this unique product

    and would you like sell it in your shop ?

    If so, I’d like to send you a price quote.

    Very truly yours

    Thomas Spielmann

    Graduate Engineer

  • 5 David // Jan 4, 2010 at 2:48 am

    I’ve found many of the members(or past payees) of the OCB in The Beer Store-Amsterdam,Black Oak,Brick,Cameron’s,Cool,County Durham,Great Lakes,Mill St.,Neustadt,Robert Simpson(Flying Monkeys),Steam Whistle,Skeena,Trafalgar,Walkerville,Wellington County-just to name a few.I really wish if I could purchase one of these products in a case (24) at the LCBO , they’d be able to sell it to me at the 24 pack pricing you would find at The Beer Store on the comparable item.The only other place offering this “volume discount” would be the actual craft brewery-traveling all over Ontario does not fit into every beer fans budget.Oh I forgot-Niagara’s Best,Muskoka,Nicklebrook,King…..

  • 6 Winston Spencer // Jan 12, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    Your Beer prices keep on going up, and your service declines. You took the spacers out of the twenty four case, you Beer Box may as well be made out of paper. If you don’t hold onto the box with both hands, your are kneeling on the ground to pick up the split beer.
    I am sixty eight years old; so I have had a few beer in my life. When I return the 24 empties, I get tired of standing them up, so I place them in the box on the horizontal. The fat girl at the Hanmer Beer Store, always “bad mouths me” about this habit. I tell her, ” tell the Beer Companies. I think that she works for FREE at the beer store; because , if she got paid, she should shut her mouth and do the job she is paid to do.

  • 7 Mike Cunning // Jun 28, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    The service at the beer store is getting worse every day. They keep the beer at 55F or higher, not cold enough. Lineups galore. “Free our Beer”.
    I’d love to see beer sold in corner stores.