This is the final blog post about what I believe are three keys to success in the craft beer industry. If you missed the other posts, those keys to success IMHO are 1) Be Passionate, 2) Know Your Why, and 3) Remain Relevant.

So what do I mean by "Remain Relevant"? There are now well over 6,000 breweries in the U.S. with 2.5 opening per day. As a craft beer consumer, that's awesome. As a craft brewery owner, it's fun and worrisome all at the same time. Fun because there is nothing I love more than seeing and actively helping other brewers succeed. Worrisome because as the market becomes more crowded it becomes increasingly difficult for everyone to prosper.

Image result for hyper local In the craft beer industry much of the discussion today centers around the term hyper-local. A few weeks back, I wrote The Times They Are A-Changin'. It focused on the proliferation of breweries and how the definition of local is constantly evolving. People who used to consider a brewery in their section of the country to be local switched to only recognizing a brewery in their state as local. Then it moved to seeing only the breweries in your city as local. Today, it's only the brewery in your neighborhood that's regarded as truly local.

If today's consumer is mostly supporting their neighborhood breweries, how does a brewery succeed when they expand to other cities or states? For most of the 6,000 breweries open today, it's not a concern. They only plan to sell to their immediate neighbors. And that is cool. To me, that is the future of craft beer. But for those breweries who have been around a while and are in several states the key to success is to be local in every market. Huh? How can you be local if you make your beer elsewhere? You can't. But you can attempt to be relevant in every locale your beer is sold.

For UpCountry Brewing, "Remaining Relevant" has two components. The first is our focus on West Asheville. It is not just where our taproom and brewery are located, it is also the place from where our culture and our brand derives. It's a place that is a little bit hip, somewhat eclectic, and full of diversity. People in West Asheville love great beer, wonderful music, amazing food, and they share a passion for the outdoors. They are accepting, authentic and, like Vernon T. Waldrip, they are bona fide.

The second part of "Remaining Relevant" for UpCountry has to do with our region. The name UpCountry means mountains. Our goal as a brewery is to take the vibe and feel of West Asheville and use it to celebrate and support our mountains and our region. That's it. We are not trying to be a large craft brewer. We don't plan on selling beer in New York or California. Yes, we are growing and yes, we will sell UpCountry beer outside of Asheville. If all goes well, we may eventually need another taproom or a larger production facility. That will not change who we are or what we are trying to accomplish, which is to be the best brewery we can be while putting our focus on an area that stretches maybe 75 miles from our home in West Asheville. As long as we keep our eyes on this little green circle on the map, we will be successful by our standards.





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