Tuesday, July 9, 2013

No Apologies

We will never compromise on the quality of ingredients that we make our beer from – period.

At Van Dieman we don’t strive to produce a beer based solely on a huge positive figure at the bottom of the Gross Margin column on our accounting spreadsheets. In fact, we nearly always head in the other direction (try explaining this to both the bank manager and accountant).  95% of the breweries in the world do operate with this modus operandi, were some Hugo Boss wearing yuppy sipping on a cocktail in the Maldives dicates what is produced based solely on the profit margins that can be generated by the business. Here in lies the difference between multi-national BUSINESSES and craft BREWERIES.

Let me state that Van Dieman Brewing is also a business. To continue in operation a business needs to maintain positive cash flow. We are a small business working our arses off for below minimal wage pay so that the company can keep its head above water. I know almost every other craft brewery in the country is, or has been, in a similar situation, and it’s a position that most small business operators will be familiar with.

These businesses, particularly craft breweries, are run on passion, love for the industry and pure enjoyment. We don’t go to work everyday like most people, we come to a brewery to hand craft beer from the best possible primary products and we freaking love it. And yes – there’s also a beer at the end of the day waiting for us, or at morning tea, or lunch, or both.

Some have asked why our limited releases are so expensive? That we're simply grabbing easy money on a premium product? That because we don't have a large business our overheads should be lower hence equal lower beer prices? 

I'll answer this by saying that EVERY SINGLE limited release we've ever brewed and released has been created purely out of curiosity, a measure to test as brewers our skill set and are 100% brewed for fun, NOT PROFIT. In fact if we break even on the limited releases its seen as a miracle. And are our limted releases really that expensive??? I mean, look at any bottle of good wine and your paying upwards of $50 for 750ml. At $12 - 18 for a 500ml bottle of our limited releases I'd argue until the cows come home that value for money is on our side.

We’d love to be cheaper on the retailers shelves, but that’d require us to go against all our business ethics we’ve built our brand on over the past 5 years. We’re unapologetic for crafting beers from the best possible ingredients, most grown and sourced within Tasmania.

We want to provide choice in the market place, rather than expecting you to drink the same old crap lager you father and his father have always drunk. There will always be a place in the market for these beers, unfortunately it’ll always be majority of sales. But through better beers and providing you with a choice and education on different styles, the craft beer industry, and Van Dieman will continue to endeavor to provide better alternatives.

Sure it’ll probably cost you more, but do you value those dollars that you have dollar more? 
To quote beer writer and sommelier William Wilson ;

"Simple economics drive beer prices and as more and as more and more people drink craft beer we are likely to see prices rise, especially for the rare stuff..... Input costs are huge for small brewers. Paying more for ingredients, investment in equipment and a massive whack to the taxman before they actually sell their beer means that their profit is far smaller than the big boys. This continues into bars where owners can buy faux craft beers for less and sell them for same as independent beers."

Read more on Super Beeronomics here.

With an increasing trend towards people valuing their hard earned, providing an alternative choice to the bigger breweries is incredibly important in such a cut throat industry.  We don't dictate to a retailer what price has to be set on our beers, we can certainly recommend and adjust our prices so that we can fall into a suitable price bracket, but at the end of the day they too run a business, most of them small businesses, and we respect their avenue to growth and operation.

We certainly don’t apologise for being of a greater price than your regular 6-pack, because we’ll almost guarantee you’ll get more flavor, enjoyment, value and fun out of it. Will it hurt you back pocket more? Sure, but you’ll end up in front for the reasons mentioned in the previous sentence.

We operate in an industry that is driven by passion, creativity, dedication and hard work. 

And at Van Dieman we are no different. 


  1. Well said, Will.

    It's the same story for coffee roasting, if that makes you feel any better.

    Happily, things seem to be moving in the right direction, with more people "getting" the value of locally-made, quality-focused products.

    Facebook haters notwithstanding...

  2. I'm a jeweller... designing and hand making every piece. People still can't understand why my work is more than the 3rd world slave labour conditions factory produced stuff they can buy in the chain stores....

    Keep brewing the good beer folks.

    There are people out there who enjoy quality, there are people out there who enjoy Tasmanian, there are people out there who know that the little guy still likes to eat and pay their mortgage while they make quality products... let us keep THEM happy!