PT 80 LSAT Writing: Beer Brewer

The Prompt

Tony, a beer brewer, is deciding whether to start a production brewery—a brewery that brews, packages, and distributes specialty beer to be sold at other locations—or to start a brewpub-a full-service restaurant that serves specialty beer brewed on-site. Using the facts below, write an essay in which you argue for one option over the other based on the following two criteria:

  • Tony wants to develop a reputation among beer critics and connoisseurs for producing high-quality beer.
  • Tony wants to be able to devote time and resources to the development of new beer offerings.

A production brewery would be able to distribute its products to a large geographic area. In order to get the brewery's beers to be carried in stores or offered at bars, Tony would need to put time into sales and marketing. There are already a large number of breweries that distribute to the area. A production brewery's products are likely to be reviewed by beer critics. A production brewery would initially need to focus on a small number of core offerings. If these proved to be popular, Tony would be able to introduce a series of experimental, limited-edition beer offerings.

A brewpub would draw most of its customers from the local area, which has few brewpubs. Tony would need to oversee the day-to-day operations of the restaurant side of the business. Tony might be able to eventually hire a restaurant manager. Many customers at brewpubs are interested primarily in the food. Brewpubs are more likely to be reviewed by restaurant critics rather than beer critics. Beer connoisseurs enthusiastically seek out brewpubs, and share information about brewpubs on social media. Tony would interact directly with customers at a brewpub. Brewpubs brew batches of beer in relatively small volumes and can rotate their offerings relatively quickly.

My Essay

Tony should choose to start a brewpub.

The brewpub will make it easier for Tony to develop high-quality beers, a sine qua non for success among critics and connoisseurs of beer. The necessities of industrial production would mean that, if Tony were to invest in a production brewery, he would have to focus on a small number of core beers. Such a narrow focus would prevent Tony from adjusting his offerings in response to new information from his critics and customers. A brewpub, by contrast, gives Tony the flexibility to iterate quickly and forces him to spend more time doing what he enjoys: making beer. The small-batch production model, in other words, is strictly better, for it would let Tony fail faster, evolve more nimbly, and ultimately produce tastier beers. As Tony can't hope to win the acclaim of beer critics and affection of beer connoisseurs without an exceptional product, this—the question of which venture would lead to better beers—is the most important consideration, and the clear answer is the brewpub.

Opening a brewpub has two other large advantages: it lets Tony enter a market with less competition, and it lets Tony interact directly with beer connoisseurs, the very faction he hopes to win over. It would be imprudent of Tony to open a new production brewery when his area is already saturated with breweries. On the other hand, there are relatively few brewpubs, which means that Tony's opportunity to stand out is larger. Beer connoisseurs tend to seek out brewpubs, and we can expect even more attention from beer connoisseurs than usual given the lack of local competition. What's more, the day-to-day work of running a brewpub would involve interacting with beer connoisseurs and building the sort of relationships that could lead to strong social endorsements. If Tony were to win over such connoisseurs, he might find himself becoming an internet darling and the beneficiary of priceless organic publicity. Thus, Tony's reputation stands to gain far more from the brewpub, which will put him in close contact with beer connoisseurs and, possibly, social media mavens.

Whether Tony opens a brewpub or a production brewery, he'll be forced to spend some of his time focusing on tasks he doesn't enjoy, but the downside of the brewpub is far less severe than the downside of the production brewery. Consider the brewery first. Given that Tony will need to place his beers in a national market, he'll be forced to devote much of his time to marketing, a task that comes with no intrinsic rewards. On the other hand, if he opens the brewpub, he'll have devote much of his time to the day-to-day operations of a restaurant. But this task, unlike marketing, is valuable in its own right. It will bring Tony closer to the consumers of his beer, and thus give him valuable information.

Because the brewpub will make it easier for Tony to produce fine beers and interact more with the constituents among whom he wants to build his reputation—and because the downsides of opening the brewpub are concomitantly smaller—Tony should open the brewpub.

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