It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Hey Bill, think about this - MillerCoors likely spills more beer every year than a lot of craft
brewers produce and now they're trying to pull a fast one on craft beer fans with their Tenth
and Blake division which handles the company’s growing portfolio of import brands and
domestics that include Coor's Blue Moon. Yes Blue Moon is a Coors product so why does the
bottle say brewed by blue moon brewing company?
Here's another item of concern -Tenth and Blake’s purchase of an equity stake in the Terrapin
Beer Company. Maybe the quality of Terrapin’s offerings didn’t suffer but (don't go crazy now
Bill), who brews my beer is almost as important as what it tastes like.
While overall beer consumption in the US has been in decline for a few years, the craft beer
segment of the industry has been growing. That kind of disparity has drawn the attention of the
twin titans of the beer world, Anheuser Busch InBev and MillerCoors. They’ve fought local
legislation which would make it easier for craft brewers to grow. They’ve dominated distribution
channels to the detriment of all but their own products. They’ve even dabbled in brewing all-
malt products of their own with little success by the way.
Look Bill, craft beer is an industry built on organic growth. Companies like New Belgium, Sierra
Nevada, Stone, or Oskar Blues have become large, regional players by growing intelligently
and rationally. But importantly, they never let their desire to earn a buck interfere with the
quality of their product or their connection with their patrons. Contrast that with MillerCoors…a
publicly-owned company that is beholden to its shareholders and which only cares about dollar
signs. MillerCoors has proven over the decades that they do not give a damn about their
product. Take one sip of Milwaukee’s Best, Coors Light, or MGD 64 if you don’t believe me.
They simply can’t be trusted to be honest stewards of craft beer. MillerCoors can simply flex
their artificially grown muscles to take over package store shelves, taps, distribution channels,
billboards, event sponsorships, etc. to push out the little guys. Sure, it might be great to have
your favorite Terrapin offerings available everywhere. But at what cost? In many
placesTerrapin products have moved in at the expense of all the other great, little craft
Bill, If you care about the future of the American beer industry, then you should want Big Beer
to stay out of craft as I do.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next month.
You're fired up today, Gina, but that doesn't mean I agree with everything you've said. First, let's
look at how Blue Moon was born. It had a similar beginning as many of the craft brands on the
market today. Blue Moon traces its roots to 1994 when Peter Coors sent brewer Keith Villa to
Belgium to get his doctorate in brewing science. On his return, Villa impressed boss with his
desire to craft his own Belgium brew and was given a shoestring budget to start Blue Moon
Brewing. Today Blue Moon, often serves as entry points for those looking for something beyond
mass-produced lagers. And isn't that what we both want?
With its stature, Tenth and Blake can help other small brewers to continue its growth both by
bringing new people into the category as well as by providing financial assistance to
entrepreneurs trying to build their brands. Look here Gina, Blue Moon finished up over 20 % in
volume growth last year by bringing in consumers who were weren’t beer drinkers before. I think
when you talk to a lot of craft brewers, they recognize the value and the importance of that
For me being considered "craft" is less about size than spirit. Coors has never tried to hide the
fact Tenth and Blake or Blue Moon were part of MillerCoors. With more than 1,700 breweries
operating in the U.S., Tenth and Blake seems uniquely positioned to help the craft boom
continue. Gina, we both agree that the craft business has a long future of good growth bu I think
it will be more difficult for new players to keep coming in and for the existing players to fund their
individual growth so guys like Tenth and Blake can help there. One solution is equity
partnerships between a big brewer and smaller regional breweries. If the stake is less than 25
percent and the craft brewery remains independent,the Craft Brewers Association's standards
are met and the little buy will have access to capital to expand their brewing.
Every business needs access to capital. If don’t feel like dealing with a bunch of pain in the butt
investors then teaming up with a big brewery isn’t a bad option. Plus you get access to their
incredible technical knowledge and distribution networks.
Until something bad happens in reality, not just in those possibilites you mention, then let's give
this a chance. I don't totally trust Big Beer either but they're still innoncent until proven guilty.
Here's looking at you, kid! See you next month.