By Dave Woods
Digital market development manager
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Mark Lovelady is impressed by the craft beers and ciders new to Joplin.
“There are lots of good ones,” said Lovelady. “More and more are coming every year. It’s a growing part of my business.”
Lovelady, who owns Unique Liquor and Wine, 2609 N. Range Line Road, said fall always brings a wide selection of craft offerings. Sam Adams seasonal beers are always a big seller, but people can also count on other national brands, such as Leinenkugel, Anchor and Red Hook, he said.
Regional brews are growing in popularity, too.
“There are a lot of people who come in from out of town and they want to see what local breweries we have to offer,” he said. “Mother’s from Springfield and Marshall’s from Tulsa are good sellers,” he said. “Last year was the first year for Mother’s and it did real well. Marshall’s is new to me, so I’m interested to see what it will do.”
A growing amount of Lovelady’s shelf space is devoted to craft beers and ciders. He’s adding a new cooler to accommodate the demand for specialty beers.
“Abita beers are a good performer,” he said of the craft line from Louisiana. “It’s something that is a little different and very drinkable. Deschutes beers (from Bend, Ore.) are new in Joplin. They are picking up and Goose Island (from Chicago) is going well.”
Lovelady said he knows why many craft beers are so popular.
“They are more of a sipping type of beer than a chugging type of beer,” he said.
As beer fans comb the shelves for new styles and new brands of beer to take to tailgates, barbecues and holiday events, Lovelady hopes they will consider a craft.
Bob Walkenhorst shares Lovelady’s excitement about the increasing number of craft beers available in the area. His company, Heart of America Beverage, distributes dozens of styles of beers around the Joplin and Springfield areas.
“Sam Adams is the king of the craft beers,” said Walkenhorst. “It was one of their first and by far the largest. I keep thinking that that brand will slow down, but it gets bigger and better each year.”
Sam Adams Octoberfest brand is one of his favorites.
“It’s just exploded,” he explained. “It was one of the first seasonal beers to really take off and (one) that my crew got excited about.”
Closer to home, Mother’s Brewing Company brands are popular around Southwest Missouri.
Mothers Oktoberfest has been recently available on tap, but is now available in bottles in Joplin.
“Last year it blew out and was gone,” Walkenhorst said. “It’s a great beer. Get it when you can.”
Walkenhorst, a self-proclaimed beer nut, gets excited when he talks about the beer biz.
“There’s lots of variety out there and lots of tremendous products,” he bragged. “One of them is the cider market.”
Ciders, he said, are a fast moving segment of the adult beverage market.
He points to Angry Orchard, a new apple cider from the maker of Sam Adam’s beers.
“Jim Koch (Sam Adams founder) has really hit on something, “ he said. “It’s already one of the top brands after only seven months. It’s the No. 2 brand in the cider category.”
In the United States, he said, ciders represent only 1 percent of the market. In England, by contrast, its 7.5 percent. Redd’s Apple Ale, a cider/ale style hybrid is gaining ground in Joplin.
“There’s a lot of room for ciders to grow,” Walkenhorst said. “Other ciders are growing as well. All of the major players are getting into the cider business.”
David Pryor, a sales manager with Missouri Eagle, said he’s optimistic about craft beer’s future in Missouri. Deschutes Brewery, another longtime craft favorite, has recently expanded into the Midwest and their products are available on shelves and taps around town.
“It’s been received well in Missouri,” he said. “Black Butte porter and Mirror Pond pale ale are popular. I think you get the opportunity to try something from a different area of the country. It wasn’t offered around here until June, so it will be a good addition.”
Pryor’s Missouri Eagle offers a growing stable of craft selections, too.
“We’ve got Abita’s Jockamo India Pale Ale, their Amber Ale and Purple Haze,” he said. “Abita’s strawberry was a big hit among seasonals and now we have their Harvest Ale in town.”
All, he explained, are solid options.
“Purple Haze (a berry flavored beer) and the Amber Ale are staples around the area and are going well,” Pryor said.
Like Walkenhorst’s line, Pryor’s company has plenty of options for fall. Spiced and hopped beers, Oktoberfest styles and light ciders abound.
“We’ve got the Shock Top and their pumpkin beer rolling out right now,” he said. “Goose Island Harvest is available. We will be getting Widmer Bros. Falconers IPA, which is a part of their rotator series. Michelob Ultra came out this year with a light cider that’s really got people’s attention. It has a very light crisp apple taste and it’s very drinkable. I’m excited about them.”
What’s a craft beer?
Seeking a sample?
Ozark’s Beerfest 2012 is Saturday, Sept., 15 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Joplin Holiday Inn Convention Center $20 in advance. $25 at the door. VIP tickets available. Supports Big Brothers Big sisters of Jasper and Newton Counties. Call 417-626-9244 for ticket information.