Tag Archives: craft beer news

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 3/4/17

The One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, is a cheat.  It is a quick way for me to come up with a topic to write about daily without having to do too much brainstorming.  So, when I can’t find an article I want to write about, it makes it kind of hard.

Anyway, here is an article about…wait for it…the NC distribution cap fight.  At least this one finally puts a number on all the money the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association and individual distributors have given to NC legislators.  The total is almost $1.5 million.  That should explain all you need to know as to why progress has been slow.

I’ve been following this story since it started gaining steam 3 years ago, and I’m tired of talking about it.  However, I think the distributors are more afraid of the big beer companies pulling out of their contracts and distributing themselves.  That is a more realistic fear than the one of all these small brewers distributing their own wares.  It isn’t that much more realistic, but more realistic.

I just get tired of political fights whose conclusion is inevitable.  If the Supreme Court hadn’t stepped in, we would still be in a 40-year battle to finally get to marriage equality.  This is a much smaller and less important issue, but the conclusion is inevitable.  The politicians want to vote to raise the cap, but they get a lot of money from its opponents.  Eventually, the politician’s beliefs will win out and they will vote to raise the cap.  Wholesalers should spend less time worrying about how to stop the cap and more time trying to build good relationships with brewers.

Last thing, the distributors who treat brewers as if they are doing them a favor by distributing their beer are the ones who should worry.  I think the biggest change raising the cap will initiate is making distribution contracts fairer and forcing some distributors to treat brewers more as partners.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 3/3/17

Here is an article about NC Breweries and fantasy band mashups.  It was one of few articles I read that I could finish today.  It is a good fun piece.  It is the best kind of writing when you have no real news to report.  That isn’t a knock.  I enjoyed it and it is a skill I don’t have as a writer.  Not everything has to a philosophical journey to the heart of craft beer.  It should be fun.  It’s beer.

Good writing is hard to find and good journalism is particularly hard to find on the internet because there is just so much of it.  So, I try to appreciate and show it to others.

In this space, I try to highlight an article I find interesting and worth reading and explain why you should read it too.  Then there are days, filled with click bait lists and faux debates and headlines screaming craft beer’s totemic rise or ultimate demise with an article attached that is lacking in any context or skill at writing.  In other words, SEO at its finest.

The time you have during the day is finite.  I don’t want to waste yours or mine by publishing something just to get hits.  However, that is the economy of internet publishing and news.  For newspapers and real news sites and blogs, advertisers look at the number of hits to determine if they will advertise with you and how much they will pay.  It’s understandable.  They are looking for the greatest amount of exposure possible.

It is also understandable how some sites just churn out content that hammers home SEO. There are keywords to include in your headlines and in your meta tags.  You should make your content in easily digestible bite-sized factoids.  Don’t worry if the headlines are misleading or the factoids tell less than a quarter of what is an interesting story. You just need to get that content out and in the atmosphere, for people to click on it.  Screw whether it’s is any good or not.

I would love for my beer writing to be a significant if not complete contributor to my income.  However, how do you measure success?  Is it only through the amount of money you make, the number of clicks you get, the number of people who recognize you?

Don’t get me wrong, I have a good idea of how many hits I get over a week and which articles contributed the most to them.  I want as many people as possible to read my work.  I just don’t measure whether an article was successful solely by how many people click on the link.  I’m satisfied when I read the piece before I hit publish and it says what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it.  If I do that enough times, people will find the work and appreciate it. If not, I’ve still done what I set out to do.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 3/2/17

I find legacy brewers’ fight to stay relevant in an ever-changing craft beer world fascinating not because of them but because of us.  Our culture at large gravitates towards the new.  We conflate newness with good and innovative.  Where does that leave a brewery that has been around for 20 years in an industry that always leans towards the new hot thing?

You can go the Boston Beer route and pretend you’re not a huge beer company and flounder around like the old guy at the club (I stole that from Ryan Self).  Or, you can do what Highland Brewing has done over the last two years.  Highland has reinvented itself adding new more hop forward beers outside the English tradition while managing to keep the soul of the company intact.

One of the hardest things in life is to admit when something is not working.  That is true in every aspect of life.  From romantic relationships, jobs, you name it, it is hard to say, “I need to do something different.”  It is especially hard when you have built a successful business doing things a certain way.  However, if the landscape you built that business in changes you must change with it.  That is the first hurdle for legacy brewers.

A successful brewery that has been around for 20-plus years must absorb the idea that the world they helped create is leaving them behind.  If they can do that.  If they can admit what they have always done isn’t working as it used to, then they can move on the next step, which is how do they adapt.

That is an easier step to make but a harder one to execute.  Deciding you need to brew a couple of IPAs and start a barrel program is easy and obvious.  Making good beer is where it gets difficult.  It always comes back to the liquid in the glass. You can decide you need to do more IPAs, but if you do them badly or in a way that doesn’t stay within your brand identity, it will be worse than not brewing them at all.

Highland did not allow itself to become wedded to the way it has always done things at the expense of being successful for the next 20 years.  Yet, they have managed to keep their core identity.

We are a strange culture.  On one hand, we seek out the new, the innovative, the bright shiny thing that is slightly better than the thing we already have.  Yet, we also venerate tradition to the point of fetish.  While we love new stuff, we seek the comfort of knowing exactly what is going to happen next.  It is not that we love history.  In fact, many if not most of the people who venerate tradition barely understand history.  It’s that we seek comfort. More accurately, we seek to not be uncomfortable.

To stay relevant and to continue to grow, breweries must learn to embrace that feeling of being uncomfortable.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 3/1/17

You need to go read this interview Jason Notte did with Neil Witte quality ambassador for the Brewers Association and founder of Craft Quality Solutions.  Go read the interview.  I’m going to spend another 400 some odd words bloviating about it, but you can get to those after you read it.  I can honestly say this one of the more important articles you will read about craft beer this year.

“All this has happened before; all this will happen again.”  Ronald D. Moore co-showrunner and head writer of the Battlestar Galactica reboot used to always say that to questions about when and where the show was taking place.  What I gathered from his meaning is that the things happening in the world right now are things that have always happened and always will happen.  Humanity is defined by how it responds each time. I remember the 1990s craft beer boom, but I didn’t remember this: the number of breweries increased 550% from 1990-1999.  2005-2016 saw an increase of 346%.  I also remember the fall.  It was precipitated by people starting breweries because they saw dollar signs.  They made beer that was good enough as fast as they could and sold as much as they could.  We are seeing the same thing happen again.

Why is that?  Many people hold Wicked Weed up as the best brewery in North Carolina.  Wicked Weed makes good beer, the sour program is great, they’ve done a great job of marketing, and they’ve made a boatload of money in a short period.  They were one of the first to make good sours right when sours were taking off in the marketplace.  You can’t reproduce what they did, so don’t try.  Yet, many see all the money they make and figure it can’t be too hard. They’re wrong.

Wicked Weed has a fully developed field quality program.  I know for a fact, in their NC distribution contracts, the distributors must go through and check the bottles on the shelf, check the dates on the kegs, and make sure lines with Wicked Weed beers are being cleaned regularly.  The brewery also has its own field quality people doing checks around the state.  That is what Witte is trying to get all breweries to understand:  Ultimately, their beer is their responsibility.

In the past year, I’ve returned more kegs to distributors and breweries then I did in the previous two.  It is in part because my palate is better and I have more experience, but I have received more out of date kegs, in the last few months than I noticed before.  It’s not just distributors but also self-distributed breweries.

What the Brewers Association and Neil Witte are saying is, “We’ve seen this before.  Making bad beer and not taking care of your beer from purchase of the ingredients all the way through someone buying a pint is what will kill you.” It happened before and it will happen again.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 2/25/17

Watching what is happening to Boston Beer Company is interesting.  Only partially in craft beer sense.  Even as a craft beer legacy brewer who created a beer that taught many of us that there was more out there than Bud or Miller, they don’t seem to be a part of the craft beer world anymore.  The leadership there certainly doesn’t understand that world.

It is interesting to me because not only is a story of how a company, not just a beer company, loses its way.

In this latest article, part of the solution to its floundering earnings and stock prices is increasing its advertising budget.  A couple of months ago, the big news was they were changing the font on the packaging to make it more modern.  Here’s an idea, try making better beer.  Oh, they tried that.  Well, not really.  They just started making a bunch of hoppy and fruited beers no one wanted.  Somewhere along the line, they forgot what their core was.  If they ever knew.

Most of us, because of high school, have read some if not all of the major Shakespearean tragedies:  Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, Julius Caesar.  The thing that leads to the lead character’s destruction is with those characters from the moment they step on stage.  Their fatal flaw is something they were born with or developed long before the action of the play takes place.

Watching what is happening to Boston Beer Company, I can’t help but feel this current situation is the result of decisions that have been made since the company’s beginning.  All breweries that are successful over the long term are well run businesses.  They make good and sometimes hard business decision all the time.  However, when it comes to the beer decisions, they set aside business concerns and concentrate on the core of what it is they do: beer.

It seems to me that the decisions made at Boston Beer have almost always sided with the business side and not the beer side.  The decision to launch its first cider in 1999 is a clear indication of that type of thinking.  So is the Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard launches.  That is how you become a beverage company to make investors happy instead of being a brewery.

These decisions show a fundamental lack of understanding of the craft beer world they helped create.  That is often the case with companies that help create a market and survive long after the market has matured.  They don’t understand how much they changed things nor that they are no longer the revolutionary lobbing Molotov Cocktails at the hierarchy. They are the hierarchy.  Boston Beer wants to be considered a craft brewery while acting like a big beer company.

The key to understanding a tragedy as it unfolds is identifying the fatal flaw. Much as Othello couldn’t see how his jealousy and pride were destroying him, Boston Beer can’t see how much its ambition to be more than a beer company has possibly destroyed it.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 2/24/17

Amid a myriad of fascinating craft beer storylines, one that I keep coming back to is the how do legacy brewers navigate this world that they have created.  It is one increasingly unforgiving to brewers who get a little too old and too successful.  Boston Beer Company released their 2016 4th quarter earnings yesterday and they were not good.  Neither are their projections for 2017.

I was struck in reading the article that Boston Beer Company thinks of itself as just that, a beer company.  I see a distinction between a beer company and a brewery.  I always refer to ABI and MillerCoors/SABMiller/whatever as big beer companies.  They own breweries, but as a company they are concerned more with selling beer than making beer.  I think Boston Beer and the people that work there think of themselves as a brewery, but the rest of the world sees them as a beer company.  That is in contrast to a brewery like Sierra Nevada.

I think craft beer drinkers still have respect for Sierra Nevada as a brewery and see Boston Beer Company as simply a beer company who owns a lot of different brands. One of the first things the article points out is that the company was hurt by flagging sales of Angry Orchard Cider.

Boston Beer jumped into cider the same way ABI jumped into craft beer.  They bought a producer, then dumbed down the recipes while pumping up the production.  While I think in his heart Jim Koch is a beer guy, his company has seemingly lost sight of its beer core.

It is something you see a lot.  Your business starts to slow down and in an attempt to keep growth at a certain level, you begin to chase the new hot trends in your sector.  Instead of innovating you begin imitating and in the process, you lose what you are best at and you fail anyways.

The brewers that best survive whatever is coming next in craft beer are the ones who stay true to the core of who they are.  They will be the ones who may brew a hot new style, but won’t change their core products just to stay relevant. If a core beer is flagging and dragging the whole company down, they will shelve it, but they will come up with a replacement that still plays to their strengths.

Don’t chase trends and just brew the next hot beer style.  Understand why beer drinkers are drawn to that style and why it became a thing and incorporate that into what you do.  Understand that the haze in a NE-style IPA is simply a by-product of how the beer is made and concentrate on making a bright fresh hop forward beer.

David Bowie made vital and good music literally up to his dying days.  He stayed relevant and successful so long because as trends changed he didn’t chase them, but he absorbed the cultures that spawned them into his music.

As craft beer matures, the brewers who operate like Bowie will be the ones left standing.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why (Kind Of), 2/22/17

Here is a cool article about a very small brewery in Toledo, OH named Black Frog Brewery and the brewer who started it.  Go read it.  When you are done come on back, I’ve got some other stuff to say.

I received a Twitter reply from a person who reads my blog from Sweden the other day.  She says I’ve begun to repeat myself and should write new things differently than I have in the past.  If I didn’t already have that sense, I would have ignored the tweet.  What I must do is move past the philosophizing about the issues I see in craft beer and try to find solutions.

Major League Soccer spent the first six years of existence marketing itself to everyone but American soccer fans.  They did everything possible to attract families with kids and tweaked rules to make it more appealing to the average American sports fan.  All of that led to the league almost running itself into the ground and forced a contraction of 2 teams.

In my head, I often link MLS and craft beer together.  Their resurgences almost coincide.  Whereas MLS faced its existential crises early, craft beer is just now facing up to its own.  Three things have happened.  One, the natural enemy to craft beer, big beer, has evolved its strategy from disdain to treating craft beer as a respected enemy.  That means instead of just ignoring it waiting for it to go away, big beer is using its normal “aggressive” distribution tactics to stifle craft beer’s growth and then buying up competition to prop them up as their own versions of “craft” or “high end” beers.

Another thing that has happened is the number of breweries and the craft beer audience has expanded faster than anyone was ready for over the last 5 years.  That means the number of breweries has increased while the number of quality brewers hasn’t at the same time the number of novice craft beer drinkers has skyrocketed.  So, a lot of new drinkers are drinking mediocre at best beer and propping up new breweries.  The new drinkers aren’t learning what a good beer is and the breweries aren’t forced to do better.

Finally, this dramatic increase of breweries is happening at the same time the number of bars and available tap handles have started to shrink.  That means this fraternity of brewers that prided itself on its friendly competition is getting less friendly.  Though it is happening out of the sight of the public. For the most part.

In short, craft beer is having growing pains.  More accurately, it is a recent graduate out in the real world where his idealism and optimism is meeting the cynicism of capitalism.  How do you hold on to who you are and what you believe when everything coming at you attacks those things?  How does craft beer navigate in this new and changing world without compromising the thing that makes it special and different?

Demand more from ourselves as ambassadors and teachers

If we are going to take on the role of watchdogs for the industry, we should have the tools to do so.  Become a Cicerone or Beer Judge.  Make your staff do the same (if you have staff).  Then impart the knowledge you’ve gained to customers when it makes sense and without being a condescending jerk.  All these novice drinkers need to learn about beer somewhere.  It’s better that they learn it from us then out on these streets. Also, if you are going to sit down and taste beer with a new brewer trying to sell you beer, it helps to be able to talk to them in brewing terms when you give your feedback.  If you show, you know something about beer, they may take any criticism you give better.

Demand better from new brewers

Everyone in the industry needs to be honest with new brewers.  The collegiality and fraternity are great.  However, if one brewery is making bad beer it effects all the brewers in the area.   Everyone with the experience and gravitas should taste new brewers’ beers and be honest.  Have a dialogue with them to find out what their intent was with the recipe and whether they think they’ve successfully hit it.  Be respectful but be honest and make the new brewer be honest with himself.  Craft beer buyers for bars and restaurants should be equally honest.  When a brewery rep or owner comes in to bring you beers to taste, tell them the truth and don’t buy beers that aren’t good.  However, you too should give them constructive feedback on the beer.  Explain why you aren’t buying it; what flaws you taste.  The people within the industry must be the ones to take care of the industry.

Remember who the enemy is

It isn’t the brewery that just opened down the road from you.  It is the one whose headquarters are in Belgium or South Africa.  The collegiality and fraternity I sometimes mock in craft beer is part of the reason I love craft beer so much.  You are competing with other craft brewers, but they aren’t the ones trying to destroy you.  Understand that you may not always have a tap handle up in a good craft bar.  Just remember, it is better that you will be up later and that the tap handle replacing yours for the moment is another brewer you like and respect.  That is much better for all involved than if it was a faux craft brand out of a big beer company’s high-end portfolio.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 2/21/17

In my job as a bar manager, I get to interact with distributors and brewers equally.  So, I’ve gotten to watch the fight to raise the distribution cap in North Carolina from an interesting position.  I’ll start off saying I support the fight.  The limit is unfair and arbitrary at 25,000 barrels.  Breweries should be able to decide on their own without state coercion whether to use a third party to distribute their beer.

However, until recently the rhetoric used by those pushing for the change has been…strident.  Most distributors do good work for their breweries and the way in which the arguments were made was off-putting.  The last few weeks has seen a media push by the Craft Freedom group and its supporters and this guest column is part of that.  It is forceful in its ideas however, it is slightly tempered from similar columns written a year ago.

If we are honest, the distributors who create the most anger and consternation within the brewing community are the ones who distribute ABI (AB-Inbev) and MillerCoors products.  Those distributors do things at the behest of the two big houses that are…shady.  The most obvious example is ABI’s incentive program.  They give cash incentives to distributors whose sales are 90% ABI products at the end of the year.  Sometimes in the last quarter of the month, your rep from that distributor will almost forget what is in their portfolio and tell you all about the wonderful ABI craft products that have gone on a little bit of discount.

Actions like that and the stultifying political climate in NC are why Craft Freedom and the breweries that spearhead raising the cap were so strident in the beginning.  What I believe happened is they heard from the other distributors in the state the political allies craft brewing has were told to tone it down a little and play up unfairness of having to sign with a distributor at the state’s behest while not slagging every distributor in the state.  Many of those distributors do good work on behalf of local breweries whose products may not deserve it.

If you talk to a distributor representative in NC who doesn’t have ABI or MillerCoors individually, they support raising the cap.  However, they don’t like the tone used towards all distributors.  They don’t feel it is fair to the work they do.  That and their, somewhat justifiable, worry that breweries will leave their portfolio without the specter of the cap make them hesitant towards supporting Craft Freedom openly.

When this cap is passed (it will be eventually), I don’t believe much will change as far as the number of breweries going with a distributor.  The change will be strongest in the negotiations over the distribution contracts.  This balances the power in those negotiations by making sure both sides are coming to the table of their own free will and not with one side having a legal sword of Damocles hanging over their head.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 2/20/1

I honestly hadn’t planned on writing anything today.  I’ve been going hard at work and here for the last week and wanted to sleep in a little later (all the way to 7 am) and read for my Cicerone study class tonight.  However, in the last month or so it became OK for everyone in craft beer openly wonder if we might have too many breweries.  Also, if we have too many breweries that affect the quality of the beer people drink and it means at some point breweries are going to start closing.

So, I wake up and peruse my Google Alert feeds for beer news and I come across this article out of the Asheville Citizen-Times.  It is a good read about more breweries in Asheville opening and how Asheville may be approaching its own saturation point.  Then I get to the section where Green Man Brewing owner Dennis Thies is quoted.  First, he hits on how brewery taprooms are taking away from bars, which national numbers prove to be very true.  Then, he says something I totally agree with,

“I used to get excited to see new breweries coming in, but I see a lot of amateur stuff now…Guys that open on a shoestring, don’t own their building and they’re making crappy home brew. And the novice consumer doesn’t know the difference between mediocre beer and really great beer.”

I’ve probably written 2000 words in the last week saying this and he nails it in 50.

I think we all agree that many of the newer breweries coming online are pumping out mediocre home brew.  That in and of itself is bad, but in a normal business sector, that problem would be taken care of by people not drinking the beer.  What worries me and I think worries other people is that as these new breweries are coming on line so are new craft beer drinkers.  These new drinkers don’t know any better so they keep buying this bad beer.  As long as the taproom is full, the brewer has no incentive to make better beer.

In the long run, I think these mediocre breweries will fail.  Quality always rises to the top in the end.  However, what I hope doesn’t happen is that in the meantime good breweries fall by the wayside as everyone flocks to the new brewery like moths to a flame even though the beer isn’t good.

I think part of this new willingness to talk about declining quality in craft beer comes from the sense from people in the industry that the bubble burst is coming.  Most of the people saying this out loud are ones who remember the cratering of craft beer starting in 1999.  They know that downturn was triggered in part by too many bad breweries bad and inconsistent beer.

The part of this that really interests me is how this has led an industry that has since its inception preached the all for one, one for all ethos where everyone supports everyone else (at least in words), that industry veterans are starting to call out breweries publicly for lack of quality.

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 2/19/17

If you follow me on Twitter you will know that Bryan Roth and I have been participating in a Twitter/blogging conversation with others about whether a brewery must be good to be successful.  When Bryan first broached the question on Twitter, I immediately said yes.  Of course, quality matters, I said in my most naïve beer geek voice.

I still believe that.  In fact, the quote Bryan pulled from a previous blog post in his latest piece is something I still believe. I think good beer is still necessary for long-term success.

However, we have two issues on the table.  The first, “the good enough” problem.  The second, uneducated consumers.  These two problems feed each other. Then we must ask, how do we resolve those two issues.

The Good Enough Problem

If you know anything about craft beer’s history, you know its origin story.  Long story short, craft beer was born out of a need to make better beer than the big beer companies who were making beer good enough to drink.  Those big beer companies still look at beer as a widget.  Their goal is to make as many widgets as quickly as possible to sell as much as possible.  The key to selling as much as possible is to make it appeal to the widest possible audience.  That means the beer is least common denominator flavorless ice cold yellow water.  It is good enough to drink.

Unfortunately, today’s craft beer brewers are falling into the same trap.  Not for the same reasons, however.  First, too many brewers are new to professional brewing and haven’t quite figured out how to scale up their award-winning homebrew.  Second, they are often leveraged up to their eyeballs to get the brewery started and need to pump out beer to start making money.  Third, they are trying to satisfy a voracious yet uneducated consumer base by getting beer out as quickly as possible.  So, beer that is just good enough is what we get.

Sometimes when a new brewery comes in and has us taste their beer the last one we taste is the one they say kills in their taproom.  They can’t make enough of it.  I usually think, It is the only one that is drinkable.  Of course, it kills in your taproom, no one can drink anything else you make.  Professional advice to new breweries, if the bestselling beer in your taproom is whatever is on the guest tap, you have a problem.

The Uneducated Consumer or Craft Beer As Performative Signifier

I read this good article about Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts.  The author does a great job of breaking down why each is successful and why Dunkin Donuts is more successful as a business model.  What really interested me in the article is in the first three paragraphs and is encapsulated in this line, “…food tends to function as a repository for the stories we tell others about ourselves.”

I spend a lot of times in brewery taprooms and craft beer bars.  Everyone in these places is using craft beer to tell others about themselves, including me.  From the beer geek to the whale hunter to the sorority girls taking selfies with their flights we are all using craft beer to signify to others who we are.

I like going to bars and taprooms with my Kindle and reading while I drink a beer or two.  It is a signifier that I like to read and I like beer.  However, I do it because I actually like to read and I like beer.  I don’t do it just to be seen reading and liking beer.  Many of the newer craft beer drinkers only want to be seen drinking craft beer and have no clue what good beer is. They just want the story.

The problem for craft brewers is, most of these people will move on to the next thing they should be seen consuming in 12 to 18 months and a brewer who was happy to make beer that was good enough for all these people to drink will be stuck with actual craft beer drinkers sneering at their offerings.

What Do We Do To Kill Good Enough?

Mainly, we in craft beer need to hold ourselves accountable.  I would suggest new breweries find people in the craft beer world who they haven’t known their whole lives, are related to or are invested with to taste their beer and give honest and good feedback.  They need to hear from someone they trust with no personal stake in the outcome, what is right and what is wrong with their beer.

I started thinking about this after another new brewery came into the bar for a tasting with the owner and I a few weeks ago.  When the brewer and sales person and their distribution rep(?) left, we looked at each other and agreed none of that beer was good. What I’m going to start doing is taking notes when this happens and try to give the brewer’s feedback on what I think of the beer.

This seems presumptuous to me.  I don’t know if I’m comfortable with doing it, but from now on when a brewery brings me samples of something new, I’m going to sit down and taste it like I would for one of my reviews, and then write the brewery an email with my notes.  Maybe they’ll read it.  Maybe they won’t.  Maybe they’ll think I’m an asshole.

If we in the industry think good beer and quality matters, we must take the responsibility to make sure it stays that way.

We must demand that you have something more than just a good story.  Craft beer is in its ascendant cultural moment right now.  What we should remember is it is just that, a moment.  It will end, and if all you have is your cool craft beer story and not good craft beer, you will end with it.

I guess, what it comes down to for me is, if good beer doesn’t matter, what are we doing here?  If you are willing to make beer that is just good enough for people to drink, what is the difference between you and the big beer companies you supposedly hate?  Yeah, you have a great story, but the Coors, Busch, and Miller families all have pretty cool origin stories.  That doesn’t make their beer any better.