It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Hey Bill, does it matter WHO brews your beer if you enjoy it? The big guys are trying to
capitalize on the increasing demand for craft beer and I for one don't like it. Anheuser-Busch
InBev, for example, produces stuff like Shock Top and last year purchased Goose Island, a
Chicago brewery founded in 1988, for close to 40 million dollars. Many craft beer drinkers I’ve
spoken to are concerned and some say they will no longer buy from such a former craft
brewery. Did you know Bill that according to the Brewers Association, Goose Island is no
longer a craft brewer because it’s owned by an “alcoholic beverage industry member who is
not themselves a craft brewer”?
To be honest, I find idea of origin of the beer to be important when it comes to macro produced
beers masquerading as craft beers. Yes, I mean masquerading since most of the big brewers
aren’t branding their pseudo craft offerings in a way that easily identifies them to consumers.
Pseudo-craft beers have the long-term effect of people associating “craft beer” as an inferior
product to what it really is, and expecting a lower price point for it. All around, it undermines the
process of popularizing craft beer. Breweries take great pains to make a craft beer and its
disingenuous at best to capitalize on it without the same effort and care.
Now Bill, I can hear you saying If what’s inside the bottle is good, who gives a damn where it
comes from? Hey the big boys know we care if not why do they hide their names? Go Google
Tenth and Blake and see if they mention it's really Coors. I get very concerned when I see a
Blue Moon or a Shock Top growing because they don’t have the same challenges as an
independent small brewing business. They don’t have the same access to market challenges
or the same access to ingredient challenges. So when they go into a retailer and charge $30
less for a keg but tell the retailer that they can charge the same as Dogfish Head or Lagunitas
or whatever, that is not a fair playing field. I want to see large brewers not lose market share
but I want to see the small breweries continue to define what a craft brewery really is. Just
remember Bill, without them we'd still be drinking Coors and Bud.
Look at Big Beer’s track record of sexist marketing, fighting pro-craft legislation, and watering
down even their own products. I just can't support them or their so called "craft brands." If
people do I predict that you'll eventually see the demise of most of the small, independent,
creative craft breweries that have led this great beer revolution we so enjoy.
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next month.
Well Gina, what I don’t get is why do we craft drinkers need to completely avoid macro craft? Are
we insecure? Shouldn’t the best beer win? Sure, ingredients are more expensive for craft, but
this forces craft to make better beer to win. If the playing field was even then where is the
incentive to make better beer to make money or survive? It’s odd you focus on the level playing
field argument when the fact is, the playing field being uneven has forced craft to make great
beers, not merely good enough beers, to survive.
This may shock you Gina, but most of the technology, equipment, science, and quality of brewing
stems from the influence of big breweries. They drive innovation for themselves and the craft
You worry about the financial power of the big boys but please realize that in lieu of their own
money, many craft brewers have found some big investors. What’s the difference? Fritz Maytag
had a large inheritance for example. Do you enjoy Anchor less because he had an “unfair”
advantage? Many more have used their family fortunes to enter the industry, as well.
The explosion of craft brewing has made this a great time, but craft beer isn’t just about the little
guy anymore. We’re already stretching that by calling the biggest of the craft brewers “little”. With
the craft segment’s success, too, there are all kinds of people jumping in to make money, who
open businesses that are independent. However they are a far cry from what craft beer is about.
Check out a beer called Beach Haus, it's from a tiny contract brewer in New Jersey. It's not good
beer and seems simply a business gimmick to make money, not advance craft beer. And before
you say I don't support contract brewing - stop! You know better than that. Try one of the fine
beers from Schmaltz and you'll immediately see what I mean.
Gina, if you know a brewery, you can truly know its ownership. Then you can see how it
approaches beer (as an art or as a profitable commodity). You’re against Big Beer because of
what you know. You should also be for other breweries because of what you know too.
Here's looking at you, kid! See you next month.