With global beverage behemoths like Anheuser-Busch InBev buying up small American craft breweries at a pace we’d liken to the Daytona 500, associations are running into complications. Ideas are not mixing like they used to. Suddenly, long-standing independent business owners who are members of guilds, non-profits or state/national associations are being replaced/tweaked/assimilated by members who are now backed by large beverage corporations, investment bankers, enormous distribution power and (usually) different tactics and philosophies to the market.
It’s a problem. Just look at what happened to the Colorado Brewers Guild this month. Fourteen craft breweries split from the guild two Fridays ago to form a new trade advocacy organization. Why? Well, things were getting all Dune guild weird — specifically when it came to what is considered the interests of “Craft Beer'” vs. “Big Beer.” We quote the always informative Coloradoan:
“We felt if we are going to be a craft brewers guild, then there really isn’t any place for international mega-brewers in our organization,” said Doug Odell, founder of Odell Brewing Co.
That’s a reasonable expectation. Most notably, Colorado’s Breckenridge Brewery has been brought up; it being acquired by the Belgium-based Beer Voltron and its Budweiser brand in December of 2015. Apparently, Todd Usry of Breckenridge Brewery is listed as a 2015-’16 board member for the Colorado Brewers Guild. Back to the article:
Doug [Odell’s] wife Wynne resigned from her position on the Colorado Brewers Guild board. So did Brad Lincoln of Fort Collins’ Funkwerks brewery.
“Large breweries (like AB-InBev) have a lot of advantages,” Lincoln said. “They have purchasing power and there’s challenges with access to the market.
“We want a voice for the independent brewers.”
The new guild will be called Craft Beer Colorado, and its 13 other members will include New Belgium; Grimm Brothers Brewhouse; Oskar Blues Brewing; Left Hand Brewing; Wibby Brewing; Epic Brewing; TRVE Brewing; Renegade Brewing; Great Divide Brewing; Bristol Brewing of Colorado Springs; Mountain Sun Brewing of Boulder; and 4 Roses Brewing. Also, Weist Capitol Group, a lobbying firm, left the guild as well to represent the new Craft Beer Colorado.