He was a wise man who invented beer. We quote Plato, and we assume the Greek mathematician, philosopher and founder of the Academy in Athens (the first institution of higher learning in the Western world) came up with his best ideas when imbibing in a nice locally crafted mug of beer. We sometimes utilize a similarly tried-and-true method. We call the Craft Brewing Business (CBB) crew into the war room, we crack open the fridge (or kegerator), pick a beer and discuss this week’s big news in beer.
We suggest you do the same thing. Because this isn’t a one-way conversation — we want to hear from you too. Let us know what stories caught your attention and what craft beer you’re looking forward to enjoying in the comments below. Cheers!
Keith Gribbins, editor:
Is consolidation inevitable in the craft brewing industry? A lot of craft brewers say no. Much of Big Beer says yes. There hasn’t been a ton of mergers, rollups and buyouts in the craft brewing industry. Some of the big examples include the Craft Brew Alliance (CBA), which was formed with the merger of leading Pacific Northwest craft brewers Widmer Brothers Brewing and Redhook Ale Brewery in 2008. CBA was joined by Kona Brewing Co. in 2010. Last year, Cerveceria Costa Rica S.A. bought brands Pyramid Breweries, Magic Hat Brewing Co. and MacTarnahan’s Brewing Co. from the investors at KPS Capital Partners LP for $388 million.
But a lot of craft breweries are resistant to being bought and subjected to shareholders, according to an excellent article on Bloomberg.com. The story talks about craft entrepreneurs seeing private-equity firms and large brewers as untrustworthy to preserve a craft brewing culture that “values employees, local communities and good beer over maximum profit.” It also notes brewers today can find financing fairly easy to expand production. The article also has a hilarious story about SweetWater Brewing Co.’s Chief Executive Officer Freddy Bensch:
[Bensch] gets plenty of solicitations from potential acquirers. One stands out: a handwritten note with a crisp $50 bill from a banker begging for a meeting. The greenback was so pristine and odd a gesture that Bensch wondered if it was real.
“We took that $50 bill over to the pub and spent it on beers and they accepted it,” said Bensch, who co-founded the company with a college roommate. “We didn’t accept the meeting. We toasted him when we were buying beers with his $50.”
Craft Choice: Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
Jason Morgan, editor:
It is widely known that the CBB crew loves buffalo wings almost as much as we love craft beer. In fact, we dreamed up and developed the CBB site at our weekly wing meetings. Even before that, the combination of sauced, spiced meats and creative brews sparked our imagination for other, some would say less realistic business ventures — American Gladiators: The Gym and Beers and Breakfast, to name two.
So the partnership between Redhook Brewery and Buffalo Wild Wings sounds like a match made in wing/beer heaven. Redhook will be releasing a new brew called Game Changer that will be part of the Buffalo Wild Wings new drink lineup this summer. Sounds like a good excuse to get the CBB gang together for another wing night adventure!
Craft Choice: Atwater Vanilla Java Porter
Chris Crowell, editor:
Fort Collins Brewery is pretty cool in my book because the Colorado brewer is willing to try new things. For one, it is trying out a new ‘brewery’ concept that doesn’t produce beer, but rather beer art, and this week the company announced its beer’s maiden voyage overseas. The thing is, capitalizing on the growing international demand for craft beer was never Fort Collins’ intention. Fort Collins is like many other local craft brewery — passionate about making great beers and serving a local community — but it was approached by a distributing company to send brew to Sweden. They thought about the idea, and after really studying the concept and making sure the integrity of the beer wouldn’t be lost on its journey, essentially said ‘why not?’ I mean, they send their fish here, after all, we should be able to send them our beer, right? A new, unexpected opportunity presented itself, and they jumped on it. Grattis and lycka till, Fort Collins Brewery!
Craft choice: Lagerheads Tyranny
Sean Wright, developer:
Time and again we see how craft breweries acknowledge and support the communities they are based in. Here we find Boulevard Brewing Co. coming up with an altruistic way to rebrand their product. They strengthen their local ties by naming the brew after the city, they give back by donating proceeds from sales to charities, and they include the populace by democratizing the process of charity selection with public nominations and voting.
It’s great when creative people come up with creative ideas to do something good, and it reinforces my belief that a business making money and a group of people making their corner of the world a better place are not mutually exclusive ideals.
From the Boulevard website, “From day one our founder, John McDonald, has been committed to demonstrating our support and devotion to the local community. Boulevard donates beer to hundreds of local organizations for fundraisers throughout the year and provides merchandise and brewery space as auction items on an ongoing basis.”
Now those are brewers I can support!
Craft choice: I’m out! Gotta run to the store. Probably a maibock or stout.