Showing posts with label business. Show all posts
Showing posts with label business. Show all posts

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Beer Positive

I am assuming that Devils Backbone brewmaster Jason Oliver doesn't mind me repeating his Facebook post from the other day here. What he wrote really resonated with me, so much so that I assume shared his original post on my Facebook page, so here we go:
One of DB’s family values is "Beer Positive". Dr. Lewis at UC Davis instilled that into us. Never talk bad about any segment of the brewing industry. What’s bad for one part is bad for the whole. Be inclusive not exclusive & celebrate not denigrate beer. I’ve always considered myself a brewer first and a craft brewer second. That approach has served me well. When we opened Devils Backbone I insisted on carrying three bottled products; Coors Light, Bud Light, and Bud. I carried all three because all three are brewed in Virginia!! We sell 5-20 Bud/Bud Lights each week to the 4000 + DB beers. I’m happy to still carry those products. Different perspective from some in my industry I suspect.
I have written about this in a previous post, but it needs saying again, some of the snide comments and abuse on Devils Backbone's Facebook page, Instagram account, and other social media forums has been nothing short of disgusting, and an absolute disgrace to the wider 'craft' brewing world.

It kind of gets to the fevered pitch of a Westboro Baptist Church funeral picketing session, bordering on a cultic obsession with ideological purity. It's like people have forgotten that beer is supposed to be fun.

At the end of the day, it's just beer and some people would do well to remember that.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Bigger Business As Usual

I rarely post on brewery mergers, quite possibly because I don't believe that the corporate structure of a brewing company really has that much of effect on the quality of beer being produced. If it did, every honest craft beer drinker on planet earth would love for their favourite local micro to be purchased by one of the big boys so that they could have access to superior quality control processes and equipment and thus make consistently tasty beer. but Stonch put out a challenge, and so I will attempt to rise to it.

All too often in the craft beer side of the beer scene (strangely some craft beer fans remind me of the Catholics in Dave Allen's wonderful joke about going to heaven, they seem to be convinced they are the only people who drink beer), we forget that the brewing business is exactly that, a business, subject to the same rules of the market as other industries, supply and demand, blah, blah, blah. Just because you are a little business doesn't make you some kind of special case or immune to the realities of every day business life - as such those small breweries making shit craft beer (and there are a fair few of them in my experience) will, and deserve to, go to the wall, where no-one will lament their passing other than 'investors' hoping to cash in on the bubble.

Anyway....this post is not about ABInBev buying some little brewery and igniting a veritable caterwaul of 'sell out', 'I'll never buy your beer again', and other declamations from love-struck and jilted fanboys. It's about ABInBev (random thought, why isn't it InBevAB? InBev bought AB not the other way around) having agreed to purchase SABMiller in order to go from being the world's biggest brewing company to being the world's biggest brewing company by a wider margin.

It may sound strange, but this deal doesn't really bother me, and for many of the same reasons as InBev's purchase of Goose Island, 10 Barrel Brewing or Elysian didn't bother me. It is very unlikely to actually affect the beer as it is being made, though admittedly there is part of me that looks over at Pilsner Urquell and worries that the same people that fucked up Staropramen are likely to own the brewery that started the whole hoppy pale lager craze back in 1842 (side note, screw 'India Pale Lager', and morons that think Bud Lite is in some way a pilsner just because it is pale and bottom fermented). As long as the beer stays the same, and this goes for all the brands likely to be owned by whatever this new behemoth will be called, then I am happy with that, because from an American side of the Atlantic perspective the control of the factories producing the beer is frankly a secondary matter.

With the daftness that is the three tier system, whereby brewers need to sell to distributors in order to have their beer in the pubs and shops of a state, the power is with neither the producer or the retailer, but with the blood sucking middlemen, and it is those purchases by ABInBev that bother me the most. Rather than opposing huge brewing companies, the craft beer world, if it truly wants to revolutionise the industry in the US, needs to focus on destroying the three tier system and introducing a genuine free market in the beer world, whereby the middle man is cut out and maybe even, and I realise I am likely being idealistic here, prices can go down because the additional cost of the mddleman is cut out.

Big brewing companies are a very useful straw man/marketing device for the chattering classes to rail against, much like the faceless bureaucracies of the civil service, and ABInBev getting even bigger really changes nothing on that front. So my response to this news is to shrug my shoulders and carry on drinking beer primarily from my local breweries, preferably at their tap rooms so all my money goes directly into their pockets. That is the power the consumer has, deciding where his or her money goes, and someone will always exist to be the supply to meet the demand for beer from small breweries, it's called business and it will keep on going.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crafting A Double Standard

In a piece of news strangely reminiscent of last week's, Green Flash Brewing have purchased a small brewery called Alpine Beer.

The press release punches all the right buzz phrase necessities, respecting culture, values, integrity of the beer, blah, blah, blah.

What we have here is a successful business buying another successful business because they think it will benefit their business.

Thus has it ever been, thus will it ever be.

The reaction though among the beer drinking and commenting masses? Crickets, other than a few comments about looking forward to being able to get Alpine Beer outside their heartland market.

Now, if someone could explain to me the difference, in anything other than scale, between Green Flash's purchase of Alpine and A-B's buying out 10 Barrel, or even Duvel Moortgat buying Boulevard Brewing, without resorting to stock in craft trade phraseology (you know the kind of thing, they are buying it because they are passionate about beer, or some such vacuous tripe), I would be seriously impressed.

What we are now seeing is the consolidation of the brewing market, as Big Craft cherry pick small breweries, and industrial scale brewers do likewise with regional brewers. As such, can we please get past the romantic notions and simply accept that the brewing business is exactly that, a business, and businesses will do what is best for them to survive and thrive.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Law of Unintended Consequences

For those of us who live in Virginia and love beer, July 1st will likely go down as one of the best days of 2012. It was on that date that law SB 604 came into effect, allowing breweries to sell pints of their products in their tasting rooms. If you come to the Starr Hill tasting room this Saturday I will, as a result of this law, be able to sell you a pint and, speaking from the point of view of someone behind the bar, I much prefer pouring pints than samples.


As a result of the law coming into effect there have been a veritable slew of breweries opening up with tasting rooms that are effectively pubs. Unencumbered with the requirement to have 45% of their on-premise business come from food sales, I can see more and more breweries turning their tasting rooms into bars. On a personal level I very much welcome such a move, anything that means there are more pub-esque places in the Commonwealth is a good thing in my book.

However, this does raise a question in my head. Given that the legal requirement for pubs and bars to have food is now effectively redundant, why is it still on the statute book? Wouldn't it make sense for the Governor to take a pro-free market stance and reduce the daft regulation and red tape around starting a pub, thus allowing pubs to focus on what pubs are for? Good beer, maybe some snacks and being a social centre for the community, oh and making a viable living for those who want to run a pub without the hassle of being a restaurant as well?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stifling the South

I want to preface my post today with a clarification, basically so I don't have to explain myself later if people get the wrong end of the stick. I like the beers of Sierra Nevada, Oskar Blues and New Belgium.

With that out of the way, let me continue. If I were in the planning stages of starting a brewery over here on the East Coast of the USA, especially in North Carolina, but also Virginia and South Carolina, I would be worrying right now. I would be worrying because all three of the aforementioned businesses are planning to build breweries in North Carolina, all of them clustered in the Asheville area.

On one hand it is excellent news, it will create jobs, which will spur local economies as workers spend their money, so from a economic point of view this development is very welcome. A further benefit that has been mentioned is their beers on the East Coast will be fresher and of a higher quality, personally I am a little dubious on this, but there we go. Certainly they will be cheaper to distribute, but I very much doubt the consumer will benefit from that in any way shape or form, just as the consumer doesn't benefit from the transportation savings of using cans instead of bottles.

My concern then is that these expansionary moves will stifle the local craft brewing industries and that market share which previously supported much smaller operations will be lost to the bigger company. Of course, the economist will say that this is simply the invisible hand of the market, but I have an aversion to invisible hands grabbing small companies by the neck and squeezing the life out of them. Naturally there is the argument that having these big businesses on their doorstep should encourage the smaller local breweries to up their game so they can compete with the big boys, but the question remains will they have the resources to do so?

I can't help but think that this is the first stage in the consolidation of the craft brewing industry, where the bigger companies start to force their way into markets by opening brewing facilities in various parts of the country. While we will see more and more Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Oskar Blues beers in the supermarket aisles, we will see fewer local brews except at specialty outlets like Beer Run here in Charlottesville.

As I commented on my Twitter feed the other day these expansions are really no different from AB InBev buying up facilities to brew Budweiser in around the world, it's just that the beer is a bit better.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg

Once upon a time there was a farmer who kept geese. One of the farmer's geese was very special because it laid golden eggs. Every morning, the farmer would collect the eggs from his gaggle of geese and put the golden egg aside to be taken to the bank. Having convinced themselves that the goose itself must have a large nugget of gold inside it, the farmer and his wife killed the goose, only to find that it was a goose like every other.


Old Friends: Joseph's Brau PLZNR

I have to admit that there really are not that many things that I miss as a result of this pandemic. I am sure that comes as something of a ...

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