Success is a struggle too. Just ask the craft brewing industry. As craft breweries become large and growing businesses, they (like any business) face some tough decisions. But unlike a lot of other business categories, a lot of those decisions come with serious scrutiny. The most important decision (officially) is whether a craft brewer stays independent or joins an investor-run, roll-up corporation. Few industries are held to such standards, and it creates a challenging dynamic for the successful-side of craft beer. Whether it’s good or bad, we’re not sure. The younger generation definitely has an opinion on the matter.
The University of California, San Diego’s Guardian Editorial Board (the Guardian being the student run newspaper) recently released an editorial titled “San Diego’s Local Beer Culture Must be Salvaged from Corporate Overhaul.” It goes into the argument of why craft breweries (by the Brewers Association definition) should stay independently owned, citing recent transactions (like that of Ballast Point), which it feels are changing San Diego’s beer culture for the worse. From the article:
For residents of a major American beer city, it’s as distressing to think of San Diego without authentic craft beer as it is for a Frenchman to imagine a Champagne province without its world-famous sparkling white wine. But the threat is real, as breweries across Southern California have been selling out to “Big Beer” corporations that are guided by the principle “devour and conquer.” The corporate takeover will not only change the way craft beer is produced, but will also endanger the socially responsible competitive environment shared by small San Diego breweries, capitalizing on what has been known as a symbol of modern San Diego. In addition, turning San Diego beer-makers into a part of the corporate machine will negatively reflect on our city’s communities that are supported by local breweries through charities. That is why local breweries and beer lovers should unite — not merge — to oppose multinational companies, thirsty for liquid gold.
Read the entire article over here. It’s got some interesting insights and a lot of heart, and it’s also a reflection of the lovable and volatile sides of being in the craft brewing industry. And recently, we’ve been in a reflective mood.