The Mess That Is Being An Indie Beer Geek: Grocery Store Isle

It is not easy being a craft beer geek. Especially when we are experiencing a down cycle of sorts. It’s extra hard when you only drink Indie Beer.

A trip the store gets more gut-wrenching every time.

At one time we thought craft beer was going to keep getting more and more shelf space as people become aware of what good tasting local and independent beer is all about.

Sadly, Big Beer fought back against this buy buying out a large portion of the formally craft breweries that were big enough to get into the grocery stores (the holy grail for a small brewery).

Nothing exposes the suck of being a beer geek more than going to the grocery store or being in a restaurant that doesn’t have great beer.

Do you buy a ‘situational beer’ (a beer you would not drink or buy normally but are in a tight spot and it needs to happen) or do you not buy anything at all.

I’d like to breakdown why it can be so difficult at the grocery store for us poor souls that stick to their independent beer guns.

I will use the above picture of a portion of the beer isle from the main store I get my basic shopping done, Save Mart at Herndon & Milburn in Fresno.

Let’s start from the top left and work left to right.

  1. Deschutes – Black Butte Porter. This is a good one. Indie beer and a solid porter. Very lucky that Deschutes is still independent.
  2. Deschutes – Da Shootz Pilsner. A good one too. Although I don’t care about pilsners too much, but you could do worse, especially in the Summer.
  3. New Belgium – Voodoo Ranger Imperial IPA. Oh crap, our first snag. Now that NB is crossing over to the Dark Side, this one is off-limits for me. It was a nice enough beer, I will remember it with slight fondness.
  4. Empty Space. I guess it must have been something good if the space is empty.
  5. New Belgium – Citradelic IPA. Buyout Beer, no can do. I remember this one as being important in the citrus-flavored beer craze. I had been meaning to revisit it but it’s too late now.
  6. Riley’s – Sancha. A Mexican style blonde from a local Indie Brewer in Madera. Which is cool but blondes are a very situational beer style for me, so nope.
  7. New Belgium – Fat Tire. One of the most iconic craft beers in existence. Now it’s one of the most iconic buyout beers in existence. Ten years ago I might have missed this, not anymore.
  8. 10Barrel Brewing – Apocalypse IPA & Crush Cucumber Sour. Nope, I do not buy Budweiser products, even situationally. I had one 10 Barrel before the buyout and remember it being good. But who the fuck cares about them now. Two no’s.
  9. Kona Brewing – Hanalei Island IPA. Dammit, just recently went full-ABinBev owned. I will miss Kona and its island ways.
  10. Sierra Nevada – Hazy Little Thing IPA. Thank you, Sierra, for sticking around and being 100% independent. We would be so screwed if they ever sold. And HLT is a nice enough shelf-stable hazy and priced well.
  11. Sierra Nevada – Torpedo Extra IPA. This beer is maybe the best buy in craft beer. Usually priced like a standard IPA but comes in above 7%. Always thankful for it being there as a great fallback.
  12. Coors – Blue Moon Belgium White. Gross, just gross. Although way back in the day you could consider this a gateway beer. But no, never again.
  13. Budweiser – Shock Top. Nope nope nope. For the same reasons as Blue Moon.
  14. Sam Adams – Boston Lager. Speaking of iconic craft beers. Thankfully still independent (even if they had to get the marker moved a bit to keep it that way). Many times this is the only Indie Beer you can get in a store or restaurant. Don’t need it today but thankful it is there just in case.
  15. Kona Brewing – Longboard Lager & Big Wave Ale. Nice enough beers but, as stated above, no longer an option for me.
  16. Tioga Sequoia – General Sherman IPA & Half Dome Wheat Ale. Yes! Local Fresno indie brewer, we are very lucky to have Tioga around and distributed well. Sherman is probably Fresno’s most iconic craft beer and Half Dome is THE beer to take for your Yosemite photoshoot.

The bottom row is more of what we talked about already, just in 12-pack form. Although I will mention I am really thankful for the Deschutes Variety Pack as a great go-to for bringing to or hosting gatherings.


Not counting the 12-packs that is eight Indie Beer choices to ten Big Beer choices. Of those eight, there are only five I would actually want to buy, and this is the “craft” section. Think about how bad the regular beer isle would be.

So there you have it. It is not easy being a beer lover that only drinks Indie Beer. But nobody ever said being a geek about something would be easy.

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