MacGregor's was, at one time, the standard for beer selection in Rochester. To some extent, it still is. But as the beer culture changes in Rochester and pretty much everywhere, sadly Macgregor's flexes its muscles unfairly, leaving it behind much better places within the area.
It's main selling point is actually turning out to be it's Achilles Heel. They boast their beer selection as the finest in the area and, to a certain extent, it is. For the sheer number of craft beers on tap at any location, it's impressive. But it's beer lovers who demand these brands and as the number of beer fans has exponentially grown due to the renaissance of beer in the area, one glaring question comes to mind: where are the Rochester craft beers?
The answer is, for the most part, it's not there. It's not for a lack of trying. In talking to several brewers, the problem is that because MacGregor's sees itself as the de facto standard for craft beer, they undercut all local area brewers, demanding unreasonable prices of beer that would reduce and, in some cases, erase the small profit margins that they get off these kegs.
Let me give you an example. Brand X wants to sell a craft keg to MacGregors for $150. The profit on that keg might be anywhere around $50. If there's distributor fees, that price is going to be much lower. MacGregor's says, nope: we're Macgregors. We want that keg for 120 or you don't get it in our place, you don't get the traffic. So Brand X, try to survive, makes a whopping $20 a keg off the beer. Macgregor's then turns around and sells that keg for $5 a pint. 124 pints later, they've just made $470 off that keg of beer. Now granted, that keg could sit. But given the high visibility of Rochester beers in the market, realistically its going to sell on par with the rest of top craft brands. $470 for MacGregor's vs, $20 for Brand X.
And it's because MacGregor's thinks their the only game in town. That's fine. Take someone like Sticky Lips, with two locations and a huge, successful commitment to doing business with Rochester beer, and I'm sure they'll encourage MacGregor's to keep up that business model. Because not only are restaurants taking business away from MacGregor's, but beer bars like Tap and Mallet, Acme, Donnelly's Lovin' Cup, are eating into that flaw in their logic. And doing so with great success. Meanwhile, MacGregor's simply hosts the same beers you can get at any other bars, just in greater measure.
To the point that MacGregor's will just be one-stop shopping for the neophyte beer drinker. As the public learns more about and demands more, this is surely a losing position. At the very least, it's a snub on the local people, their culture, their business that even afforded them the opportunity to be as successful as they are.
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