Last week, the Brewers Association posted a bunch of videos from the Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America (CBC) in Nashville May 1-3, including keynote speeches from Bob Pease, CEO and president of the Brewers Association (BA), and Deb Carey, New Glarus Brewing Co. founder and president. The speech from Pease is thought to be somewhat at the center of an open letter from Pete Coors, chairman of Molson Coors’ board of directors, who noted he was disappointed that Pease and BA Chairman Eric Wallace continued to promote a division between craft and corporate beer at this year’s CBC. From the letter:
As a paying member of the Brewers Association I enjoy my subscription to The New Brewer. It is the reason I have taken the time to write a point of view concerning the ongoing vitriol expressed in its pages and most recently reaffirmed by BA Chairman Eric Wallace and President Bob Pease toward the large, non-independent brewers.
After rewatching the video, it’s really not very contentious. Pease spends lots of time talking taxes and brewer’s guilds and finishes up discussing the BA’s independent seal. The seal is used on beer packaging or marketing material to promote brewers that fit the BA’s definition of a craft brewery and is very much at the center of the argument to differentiate small brewers from large ones. Here are some of Pease’s quotes:
“Believe me, it’s important, and it’s much more powerful than an empty gesture. The adoption of the BA’s independent craft brewer seal is a critical step of small and independent craft brewery unity as well as a clear line differentiating us from the multinational beer companies that seek to blur the lines of independence and confuse the beer drinker.”
“Adopting the seal tells your customers and would-be customers that your business aligns with their values — like making your own damn independence choices without less-the-transparent information.”
That’s not nearly as indignant as Pete Coors’ letter to the BA, but of course, it was Wallace’s speech that followed Pease’s that got a little more heated. For some odd reason, the BA hasn’t posted that keynote. Here are some quotes from Brewbound:
In a speech that focused primarily on the potential negative repercussions of “Big Beer’s” foray into craft, Wallace said the seal helps “clear the smogginess in the air created by the lack of transparency and obfuscations by the large multinational breweries.”
“The many faux craft, crafty, captive, capitulated and acquired brands are weapons in the arsenal of the big breweries and used to control as much of the market as possible,” he said. “Cleaver and deceptive packaging design, omission of ownership statements on labels, intellectual property violations, denigrating and expensive marketing campaigns, monopolistic practices choking off raw materials and distribution channels, rampant violations of trade practices and exclusionary tactics in venues and accounts in many markets, these guys are out to eat our collective lunch and take your kids’ lunch money as well.”
Classic. We reached out to ask why Wallace’s speech hasn’t been posted. No response. We’ll keep you updated. Here are some other videos from CBC 2018. The last video, the state of the industry, is definitely worth watching.