Tag Archives: beer business

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/22/16

It is a snowy Friday. Let me take that back and explain to people not from North Carolina what is going on here. There is maybe 3 inches of snow on the ground. That isn’t the problem. The problem is the sleet and freezing rain that follows and then the fact that the melting snow will freeze again tonight.  Also, the reason we don’t plow the roads is we don’t have enough snow plows because this happens maybe twice a year in this part of the state.  Anyway, here is some beer news.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/15/16

The Five Articles are a little late this morning, but here they are.  This is the first day this year, where I had more articles than I had slots.  That is a good feeling.  The world is starting to right itself after the holiday season.  Onto the list.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/9/16

Saturday has arrived, but my weekend doesn’t begin until somewhere around 10 p.m.  That’s OK I knew what I signed up for and I love it.  Even if my eating habits are crap.  Anyway, there is a little beer news today and I’ll list them.  Today’s list may seem like I hate a lot of what I read, and I did.  However, I found them interesting in their own ways.

  • Crappy football beer list. At least, Bears and Steelers fans have enough sense to drink Guinness.  The funnier part of this list is how many NFL fan bases drink liquor like they are a bunch of college students doing shots at a frat party.  I expected the beer list to be awful, but the liquor list just makes me shake my head.  Captain Morgan and Fireball show up on this list twice each.  I will say I was surprised not one fan base listed Jagermeister as their number one.
  • Crappy hipster beer list. If your budget allows you to drink beer that is better, then almost everything on this list you may be a hipster.  You certainly are a doofus.  I have partaken in everything on this list.  Of course, I was in college and then just out of college making almost no money.  I don’t drink that stuff anymore because I have a job that pays me pretty good money.  I’m also past the age of chasing affectations to make myself look hip and cool.  I’m not hip and cool.  I’m 41.
  • When you decide to make a beer, but your first thought isn’t the beer it is the amount of protein you can get in the beer, you will make a crappy beer. If your first thought is about the amount of protein or what the name and label will be or how you are going to market it to a certain audience and then you worry about what the beer will taste like, you are going to make a bad beer and you will fail eventually.  The big beer companies have a huge head start on you as far as making crappy beer and selling it to people.  You’ll never catch up.
  • This column is done a disservice by the title. The gist the writer is getting at is that hoppy beers are not inherently evil and in some ways good for craft beer.  If the beers are made correctly and they are made with the idea that hops are part of the whole taste profile of the beer then they are good.  What has happened as one of the brewers kind of says is, there are too many brewers right now and many of them are making bad beer.  That is why I believe the number of breweries will level out this year or next.  Many of the breweries that popped up in the last 3 years are going to die because of increased competition and the fact that their beer doesn’t measure up.
  • Here are a few breweries that have announced expansions in 2016. These are established brewers who are expanding their footprint.  This goes back to the previous bullet.  A new brewery can’t just open and dump a bunch of hops in a pale ale and hop to grow.  They have to come out strong with at least one good bell cow of a beer and something that sets them apart.


Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/8/16

Beer isn’t a widget.  Beer isn’t a sprocket or any other industrial product made by factories. Big beer companies, one, in particular, doesn’t get the distinction.  They have until this point failed to understand craft beer because at the upper reaches of the company they think of beer as a product and may as well be making widgets for cars.  That is why they are buying craft brewers: to take advantage of the loyalty and creativity of craft drinkers and craft brewers.  If ABInbev was smart they would buy these regional breweries and leave them alone, but provide them with greater distribution.  However, that isn’t what is going to happen.  They are going to try to “fix” these brewers and make them more efficient and make their product more accessible to the everyday beer drinker. That is why this strategy will “fail” eventually.  I may not think these acquisitions are some kind of death knell, however, I do not like them.  I do not like them because they are assimilation that will eat at what makes craft beer special which is the individuality and creativity of each brewer.  The culture of craft beer is as important as the beer.  Primary in that is that it treats beer with respect and as the end unto itself letting the beer be what sells itself. That is why we in craft beer must be vigilant and must keep supporting our local brewers as much as we can.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 1/5/16

I’m back at home from Asheville.  There will be a blog post summarizing the trip with photos.  There was no Five Articles yesterday because I didn’t find five articles worth writing about.  Then I got back home and slept. I start my study for the Cicerone today as soon as this is posted.

  • This saddens me. I love Ska’s beer, but this is what happens when you the number of breweries in your state explode like North Carolina.  Ska isn’t one of the huge names in brewing.  The average person who is just coming to craft beer in North Carolina has not heard of Ska Brewing. Out of state breweries like Ska, Mad River, or Alpine have a hard hill to climb to just get their foot in the door right now.
  • Here is a nice beer and cider release and event calendar for western NC and Upstate SC.
  • I honestly do not understand everyone’s fascination with party bikes. I look at them and see lots of people getting seriously injured to do something wholly unnecessary and stupid.
  • I’ll be interested to see how this works because I have questions. At what level of beer sales must you get to in order to participate in this keg program? There is no way it can involve self-distribution, which means this will only involve third party distributors of mostly big brands. I think it will simplify their lives, but no one else’s.
  • Why did it take 12 years for someone to buy this place and start renovating it? I don’t understand how municipalities let huge tracts of land and abandoned building stay dormant for so long. Those spaces, sitting empty, add no value of any kind and they usually look horrible.  From seeing this happen in other places, I think one of two things delays getting the are renovated.  In a perfect situation, there are too many people with too many ideas and not enough money competing.  In the bad situation, the property owners think what they have is worth more then it actually is and make unreasonable demands.  Eventually, someone gets enough money to make something happen and/or the property owners figure out it’s better to sell then keep paying taxes on empty space.

The One Beer Article I Needed To Read And Why, 12/14/15-12/20/15

If you visit this blog often, especially in the last few weeks, you have seen posts about some changes to the posts and the schedule of posts I am planning for this space.  The reasons I want to make these changes are I am trying to make this site more thought-provoking and making myself do slightly different things in order to push my beer knowledge.  Also, I’m always looking to keep myself from getting bored by looking at beer and the industry that surrounds it.

As part of that, today is the first Sunday where there won’t be a Five Articles.  Instead, it will be a commentary or more in-depth look at the article that piqued my interest the most from the week.  In 500 words or so, I want to look at the story and explain why it interests me so much.

There were two articles that I was really interested in and read multiple times this week. One of which I won’t necessarily write about, but I will use the ideas expressed in it in a more conscious and mindful way as I taste beer.

The article I want to write about today is this one from The Coloradoan about New Belgium Brewing’s reported valuation and what it means.

We are in an important moment in the ongoing history of American Craft Beer.  The initial wave came and crested from the late-1970s to the mid-1990s.  From the wreckage of that initial bubble, the brewers most committed to quality and flavorful beer survived and newer brewers who learned from the mistakes of those before them, emerged.

One of those new and emerging brewers was New Belgium.  Since its founding in 1991, New Belgium has become one of the leading lights in the craft beer movement.  So much so that the Brewers Association has changed its definition of craft brewer to make sure New Belgium (and other similarly sized breweries) stay in the fold.

So, when the news New Belgium was requesting a valuation of the company’s total worth, many in the craft beer world were taken back.

Initial hot takes were that the company is looking to sell.  That may be true, but it isn’t necessarily what is happening.

The thing that interested me most about this article itself was how it framed New Belgium as a company in transition in an industry in transition.  Both the company and industry seem to be going through the same growing pains at the same time.  New Belgium is in the midst of a leadership transition and two major expansions at the same time the industry is exploding and being raided by big beer.

The other thing that interested me in the coverage of this story was the reaction to the story.   Maybe because this is only a valuation. Maybe the craft beer world is getting over its adolescent view of business.  However, the reaction was rather muted. Usually, craft beer people don’t think of craft as a business.  They think of it as some kind of calling to battle crappy beer. In his new book, The Beer Bible, Jeff Alworth describes it as pirates fighting against the evil big beer. On one hand, that romantic ideal is what makes craft beer so special.  On the other hand, it has little to do with the actual business of beer.

We will learn quickly how much the craft beer world has grown up when New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, or Boston Beer sells.  Either, social media will melt down or people will have really good discussions about what Craft Beer 3.0 will look like.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/19/15

As Christmas approaches, you would think the news would slow down, but no.  Craft beer Twitter got a big hit yesterday in the middle of the morning as some New Belgium news dropped.  Then AB continued its buying spree.

  • “Hey, our beer sucks, but look at the shiny new can!” I will say again, if this company would spend as much money on making the beer it actually owns better instead of on shiny new things that have nothing to do with the beer, they wouldn’t have to go around buying brewers that actually make good beer.
  • Cicerone.org presents its 11th Master Cicerone. At some point in the next say 5 years, this is one my goals.  First, I want to get Cicerone certified by the end of this year.  I’m not worried about the written and practical parts of the exam (I am going to start studying in earnest in 13 days) as much as I’m worried about the tasting session.  Developing my palate has been a lot of what I’ve been doing this past year. Wish me luck.
  • I was sitting and relaxing with a cup of coffee before heading into Craft for the day when on my Twitter timeline dropped a link to a Reuters report that New Belgium is looking to find a buyer after getting a valuation of $1 billion. I don’t know what that means.  Are they going to sell or are they looking for outside investors?  What it does show is that it is a brewer in a hugely transitional point in its history.
  • Meanwhile, AB continues picking off low hanging fruit. I always love when the people selling say, “This will change nothing.  We will continue to make the same high-quality beer we always have.” AB didn’t buy you for you to keep doing things the way you always have.  They bought you to bring you into the Borg Collective.  You have been assimilated.  Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but you will become part of the whole.
  • First, it’s about college football. Second, it’s about craft beer.  Third it has my alma mater sitting at #3.  There was no way this was not going to get linked in the Five Articles.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read and Why, 12/18/15

The Friday before Christmas means many, many Christmas parties.  We had 4 at once last night.  If you’ve been to Craft, you know it’s not that big.  Anyway on to the Five Articles.  It is the end of year and writers are looking back at the year in beer.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/17/15

Today’s Five Articles coming at you like a 1980s mobster in New York shaking you down for protection money.  That may seem like a forced analogy until you read two of the articles and realize that is exactly what they talk about from a corporate sense.

  • We start in Charlotte where a local restaurant chain, Queen City Q, has pulled all AB products from its 4 locations. Why? Because AB is running pay for play at bars and restaurants across the country. They call it “marketing” but really it’s just, “We’ll give you an extra $10000 if you let us keep 5 taps all year.”  Normally, I try to be more circumspect in my accusations like this, but I know this stuff is true and it happens.  Here is my whole problem with AB: It is a large multinational company that may as well make widgets.  They ultimately don’t care about the quality of their beer product they just care if people buy it.  That is the difference between them and almost every craft brewer.  The craft brewer wants people to buy his/her product but wants to win that market share through quality beer and not marketing.
  • This is tangentially about beer but stay with me. Most breweries and craft beer bars have live music at least once a week.  They also play music over their speaker systems during the day. Recently, shakedown artists from music publishers have been going around to breweries and bars demanding money if they have live music.  This is literally a shakedown.  It is, “give us an exorbitant amount of money or we will sue you.”  I am a person who never used Napster and has paid for every bit of music he owns, so I think artists should get paid for their work. However, these thick-necked jerks don’t work for the artists, they work for the publishers, groups who have historically been the ones screwing artists.
  • Here is an article about some cool and overpriced gadgets that will improve your beer enjoyment about 2%. Except for the Pico.  The Pico is awesome and I want one.
  • Here is a good list of beer books you can get for Christmas presents or to complete your own library. The list comes from craft beer people in and around Richmond.  I can say I own most of these books already.
  • The only time I am ever really annoyed at customers is when they come in and ask me which beer has the highest ABV. They are looking to get drunk and that is it.  If you want to do that, there are many more efficient and cheaper ways to go about it.  I am of the pub culture. I want to sit and drink and ponder over a balanced highly flavored beer.  I want to actually taste the beer.  I want to notice the color, the head, the clarity, the aroma, the mouthfeel, and all the other things that go into actually tasting a beer.  That is even if I’m just sitting in a bar.  In those situations, I still take the time to look, smell, and taste the entirety of the beer.  This is one of the many areas of life in which I think I was born in the wrong time and in the wrong place.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/15/15

I had an early morning training to go to yesterday and it lasted all day, so I missed the Five Articles.  I do heartily apologize.  There are some good articles today.  No, I will not link to the 2000th story on a grandma beating her daughter in a beer mile race, because I don’t care about beer mile races.  Also, I will not link to any articles about the guy suing Fosters because his was brewed in Texas and not Australia.  Again, I don’t care.  I do have some interesting articles that keep me entertained and curious. Also, when reading the last bullet point, remember what Battlestar Galactica taught us, “All of this has happened before, and all of this will happen again.”