Early last week I listened to a NPR: Planet Money podcast, What Causes What, on the relationship been causation and correlation. Last Friday I read on the Eater San Diego blog that La Jolla Brew House is closing and thought of a causation and correlation example related to San Diego breweries. Are the rise of brewery-only tasting rooms and the food trucks that visit them helping cause traditional brewpubs to close? La Jolla Brew House's closure follows the recent shutting of El Cajon Brewing Company and last year's closing of The Brew House at East Lake. It seems strange to me that brewpubs are closing in a town where a new brewery seems to open every month.
Take a fancy brewery tasting room, like at Green Flash, or Alesmith, or Societe Brewing or Coronado Brewing, or any number of local breweries, add a food truck and all of a sudden it's an instant brewpub. It's easy to check on Facebook or Twitter what food truck is visiting what brewery to plan your beer and food afternoon or evening. Why limit yourself to a fixed brewpub menu when you can check a few brewery websites or Twitter feeds, and target your eating and drinking?
I know that the closure of three brewpubs is a small sample. But there does seem a weak, but positive correlation, as three traditional brewpubs have recently closed while a new tasting rooms seem to open every month, followed by the inevitable arrival of food trucks. Causation - proving that the brewery-only tasting rooms and visiting food trucks directly helped cause the closures - is more difficult to determine. I'm sure there are many unique reasons why the three brewpubs closed,
which could include poor management, difficult location, high prices,
mediocre food, lousy beer, or any other reason. I don't know.
My non-scientific, non-statistical beer gut opinion is that brewpub failure is, ultimately, all about the beer. It's always about the beer. If the beer is good, people will seek it out whether or not it's at a brewpub or a brewery-only tasting room.