First off, AB-InBev is henceforth known as Blandy. Agreed? Good.
This letter was written by a British craft brewer who is noticing the Borg-like infiltration of the nascent British craft scene by Blandy. What I like about HonestBrew’s letter is that it isn’t flame throwing as much as it is determined.
This has been happening in the US for a few years longer than in Britain so you would assume that US craft brewers would be more mature about their approach to this infiltration. However, I get the opposite feeling.
Blandy and its cohorts are not going to stop buying up brewers, retailers, and distributors and subsuming them to their wills. That is their long-term business strategy. Craft brewing’s response (our response) must be more than tantrums and flame throwing speeches/letters. It must be a coherent and determined response equal to Blandy’s coherent and determined efforts to undermine everything craft beer has done.
I love this paragraph:
By hiding behind these brands, Blandy are tricking conscientious beer lovers into believing their hard-earned money is supporting the independent brewers who created this market. The reality? They are doing the one thing they know how to do well: dominate the market, reduce consumer choice and maximize their own profits. Make no mistake, in the long term this spells an almost certain end for the vast majority of independents.
This is one of the best and most succinct descriptions of what big beer is attempting to do. This is a case where an entities actions while they have evil consequences they do not have evil intent. What I mean is a virus is an organism whose only goal is survival and propagation. To do both, is must infect hosts making them sick and sometimes killing them. Large corporations and bureaucracies are simply organisms whose goals are the same as any organism including viruses: survival and propagation.
So, in other words, think of Blandy and other big beer companies as mindless organisms who have no concern for the effects of their actions only their own survival. How do you defeat a mindless virus? You don’t run around screaming how evil it is and damning to hell anyone it infects. You dig in and figure out how to keep yourself and others like you from getting infected while at the same time coming up with an antibiotic that can help those already infected.
One of the first steps for craft beer has to be to make sure everyone knows who is infected. Especially consumers. Honestly, some of these craft brewers who are purchased make good beer usually during the first year after purchase. In other words, before the infection sets in and sucks the life from them. If you are a retailer or bar who supports craft beer, make sure you find a way for you customers to know what they are buying.
If you are a blogger or a writer who concentrates on craft beer, maybe keep a running list of craft brewers now owned by big beer companies like Blandy.
Change doesn’t happen because of slogans and fiery speeches. Change happens because those activated by slogans and fiery speeches dig in, get their hands dirty, and work and fight for what they believe. This is what we in craft beer must do now.