A Good Beer Blog

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Have you read The Unbearable Nonsense of Craft Beer - A Rant in Nine Acts by Alan and Max yet? It's out on Kindle as well as Lulu.

Maureen Ogle said this about the book: "... immensely readable, sometimes slightly surreal rumination on beer in general and craft beer in particular. Funny, witty, but most important: Smart. The beer geeks will likely get all cranky about it, but Alan and Max are the masters of cranky..."

Ron Pattinson said: "I'm in a rather odd situation. Because I appear in the book. A fictional version of me. It's a weird feeling."


Comments

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Alan -

Convergence. That great 1998 chestnut about the internet. That's what this is all about - convergence.

Stan Hieronymus -

Maybe this is a step backward, but why would they cut the price? Goose was already selling all it could make.

Alan -

But not all that AB-InBev can. There's no magic in the machines. That's the beauty of convergence.

[Psst: work with me - I haven't thought this all out and The Session is coming up, too.]

Alan -

Pete makes this interesting point that I am not sure I agree with:

"...the macro in question is saying to itself internally, "We can't manage brands like this the way we normally do - if we apply our standard processes to the craft market, we'll only fuck it up." The deal therefore gives the craft beer access to far greater distribution channels and new investment in the brewery, and gives the macro a slice of the profit plus a little kudos, and the chance to see how craft beer works. But the macro has committed to not trying to interfere with how the micro makes its beer."

When I say I don't know if I agree, I mean that I am not sure we are honestly exploring this opportunity. I mean, it appears a matter of belief that craft beers can't be made on a larger scale as opposed to a matter of production.

Ed Carson -

Maybe AB-InBev delivers Quality with economies of scale. Who knows. I think Goose Island gets lost in that space between Production and Consumption called Marketing. I mean it will go from a major brand in a salesman's portfolio to being the last thing mentioned.

Stan Hieronymus -

Does larger scale mean larger brewing kettles and fermentation tanks or simply more production? Because A-B InBev has 12 breweries in the US.

The tanks at the Samuel Adams brewery in Pennsylvania are pretty big. As are the largest fermentation vessels at New Belgium.

Alan -

Yes, so if the mode of production is similar (simply not at the same scale of simultaneous replication) is it any less the beer it was when produced by the smaller corporate entity?

Gary Gillman -

No (to your last question), it is not, Alan. Scale alone - in number of plants or individual plant capacity - cannot of themselves make a beer lesser than it was. Some craft beers started in the basements of home-brewers who became craft brewers. The beers weren't inferior by virtue of the larger scale of production. In fact, due to superior technical controls, they were better in most cases.

And so as the lawyers say, "a fortiori...".

It depends though what your goal is in patronising breweries. If you think big is bad, you won't buy a beer made by a large company no matter how good it is. Some people just want to support craft or community level businesses. And fair enough.

My concerns are mainly with taste. I mean, if a brewery, large or small, was known for poor labour or environmental practices, I would shy away but all things being equal, I would welcome a quality beer from a large company. The more good beers out there the better.

Gary

Joe McPhee -

The issue is less about scale or quality or really anything else that's currently being raised - it's going to be about the ability of craft beer to avoid consolidation. If you look at what happened in the UK in the 60s and 70s there are parallels there. We haven't seen a whole lot of this yet and the AB/GI deal doesn't change that but what would happen if big beer were to simply buy many of the successful small brewers out there?

If they left them alone - I don't really see the problem, but if they end up purchasing many of the breweries that are pushing the craft beer movement, the temptation to increase profits by reducing ingredient quality will simply be too strong to resist. I don't think we're there or even close to there yet, but we could be. That's the stuff that this deal makes me consider.

Beer Brew Erika -

Great post! I think the key is to not jeopardize quality for profit. As Joe mentioned, if the breweries were left as is to produce quality brews with quality ingredients - is there a problem?