What’s the harm in bringing home a beer glass from the brewery?
“It’s just a couple bucks,” rationalized one brewery-goer I approached on a recent afternoon.
That’s true, but multiply that seemingly minuscule cost by thousands of kleptomaniac brewery visitors, and the picture darkens.
Breweries are reporting that their costs due to theft can reach thousands of dollars each month, driving up the price of each beer and occasionally jeopardizing Charlotte breweries’ ability to serve all drinkers. Some breweries have had to scrap their fancy glasses for the cheap stuff to avoid massive losses.
Sycamore Brewery pegs the impact of glassware theft at $15,000 for 2016, and they’re nowhere close to being the loss leader.
Olde Mecklenburg Brewery said theft was costing them more than $3,000 per month when they served beer in glassware adorned with their gold leaf logo in the Brauhaus and Biergarten.
“The glass was so nice it was basically screaming at our customers to take them home as a souvenir,” said owner John Marrino. He had to switch to cheaper blank glasses to reduce the temptation.
Other breweries sing a similar refrain: This is why we can’t have nice things.
“We don’t serve in anything that’s branded anymore,” says Jason Alexander of Free Range Brewery. In their first six months of business, glass shoplifting cost Free Range $3,500. Customers stole about one-third of their initial glassware order in just the first month.
“We’re reordering glassware monthly,” says Jason Glunt of Salud Cerveceria. His costs are already at $3,500 a quarter.
And at Wooden Robot, so many glasses got stolen in October that they had to get entirely new glassware to serve everybody, says bartender Zena Irving. Factor in a three-week turnaround time on glass orders and things were touch-and-go.
Many breweries write off this petty theft as a marketing cost. And there is an odd silver lining to this larceny: it’s a sign the brewery is doing something right with their branding.
“We kind of take it as a compliment,” says Lee Boxer at Triple C Brewery. “Either way, those things cost the brewery money.”
Want a legal souvenier? Here’s how much glassware costs at Charlotte breweries.
- Wooden Robot: $6
- Free Range: $3/$3.50
- Salud: $8 for a snifter
- Triple C: $5/snifter, $3/pint