A Fresh Beer Inc. Interview With Chris Montelius

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Beer good. Local better.

We started telling you about Fresh Beer Inc. yesterday. They are a local marketing, and wholesale distribution company specializing in craft beer in the tri-county area.

Craft beer is a term for limited production, high quality beer, also known as microbrew.

Florida law prohibits a manufacturer from selling directly to the public. There is a strict three tier system keeping manufacturers, distributors, and retailers as separate entities.

Think of Florida craft beer as an unsigned musician who has to get the marketing and promotional support of a record label in order to sell their product. Now picture it being illegal for them to do it their self.

That being the case, Fresh Beer Inc. exists to fill the void of craft beer on store shelves, and bar, pub, and restaurant menus.

Here is an interview with Chris Montelius, Dade County sales rep, and soon to be district manager. The Florida craft beer market is wide open, and growing strong.

"In December of 2007 Miami was a beer wasteland. I moved here from Orlando, which has a great beer scene.

"There was nothing good to drink down here. There was Zeke's, The Abbey, and Titanic, but not really much else.

"Abraxas is one of my favorite places to drink. We've also got The DRB now. We're doing beer tastings with chef's snacks like chicken wings at 8 oz Burger Bar. We're doing beer dinners at the Urbanite Bistro. It's growing.

"I think beer is where wine was in the '70s. Craft beer is exploding and Budweiser is slowly...

"They just don't have the variety of flavors. Once people get hooked on these flavors they can't go back.

"I've definitely had to do some grassroots marketing, and using social media to build a fanbase has been a big part of that.

"It's not easy being the little guy when everybody else has million dollars for a tv, print, and radio campaign. We don't have any of that. We just have good beer. We have to prove ourselves on the merit and quality of our product.

"I used to be that guy at the bar or at the liquor store talking to people about this stuff. That's when I decided I should do it for a living. It's better to get paid for it.

"Florida's three tier system is just a way for the state to collect taxes three times and artificially mark up the price. Fresh Beer Inc. exists to promote little, local brands, something other companies aren't interested in doing.

"It's a natural evolution. Wine dinners have been around forever. We just wanna show people that beer has a place on the table too. Beer has more flavor components that you can come up with recipes to compared to wine, which has one ingredient basically, the grape.

"There are different hops, different grains. It's exponential the recipes you can come up with with beer, especially now  with brewers pushing the boundaries with styles and flavors that have never been seen before.

"Once you start drinking better beer, everything else tastes like water. If you drink Miller Lite you can't necessarily jump right into the bigger beers but it's a a slippery slope.

"We just gotta get people out there and trying the beers. The thing is, people in the Whole Foods see that a six pack costs 12 dollars they're afraid to make the purchase if they've never tried it, but once they do they never go back.

"It's all about the hand sell."

Log on to freshbeerinc.com for more info.

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