What did we learn this week?
This week we learned that the NC Legislature is a dysfunctional mess. We already knew that after HB2 where they managed to solve a problem that didn’t exist thereby creating a bigger mess, but the debacle of HB500 is a red underline to go with the yellow highlighter that is HB2. It isn’t that the legislature didn’t pass HB500 and increase the self-distribution limit for NC breweries and loosen up distribution rights contracts. It is that the bill was not allowed to come up for a vote. It is that there was no attempt at negotiation on the part of those opposed to the bill. That is not how you govern. I used to love politics when you had two opposing parties who had the best of intentions for its constituents. Somewhere in the Clinton administration, both parties stopped caring about the people that voted for them and more about accumulating wins and power and imposing your beliefs on everyone whether they believe the same thing or not. Anyway, this will end up in state court. Regardless of what the actual effects of the law changes would be, I support raising the cap and I support loosening the distribution contracts.
We also learned that Boston Beer is quickly moving on from being a craft brewer as well as being primarily a beer company. This isn’t so bad except that Sam Koch and the rest of Boston Beer haven’t quite figured out that the general craft beer drinking public already think they aren’t craft brewers. The leadership at Boston Beer is the guy who can’t let go of how great they were in high school or college and don’t understand how everyone else has moved on and doesn’t care about 20 years ago. I think it is a sign of health and maturity of the craft beer industry that companies like Boston Beer, Sierra Nevada, Bells, etc. are moving on to the next phase of their existence. The companies that don’t fight that growth, but embrace it and figure out how to use that maturity as an asset are the ones who will continue to grow in the future.
We learned that the Brewers Association does listen to its constituents or at least they are trying to keep themselves from looking like misogynists or worse. The BA will no longer allow GABF or World Beer Cup winners with “offensive” names to use the medals as advertising nor will they announce the names at the ceremonies. This is about as much as a voluntary membership organization can do to its members without pissing them off enough to leave. This is more of a symbolic gesture to announce to brewers that they need to think twice about naming a beer that might offend a segment of the population. This is an important point to remember as craft beer continues to saturate the 25-35-year-old white male market. The BA knows the way you continue the growth of craft beer in the future is to attract non-white males to craft beer. That starts with not offending them before they even walk in the door with the names of your beers.
Hopefully, we will learn more next week.