There's an interesting article in Slate today that reviews various US craft brewery ownership models... but then sides with some of them including with this key quote:
Those who take issue with the concept of contract brewing see it as a matter of misrepresentation. Greg Koch, founder of legendary Stone Brewing near San Diego, said, “As a consumer, I want the truth to be easy to understand and require no special knowledge ... If [the beer] is not brewed at the company whose name is on the label, I’d want to know.”
In January, we had an excellent discussion on the distinction between contract and gypsy brewers and got into some details that reminded us again how useless labels can be. But, as you may have noticed, there is no such trouble telling a founder of a legendary brewery from a consumer. As such, we are left with uncomfortable feeling. Seeing as we who are primarily actual consumers are not also for the most part founders of legendary breweries, does the proposition hold? For me, never once in my three and a half decades of beer drinking ever given more than a passing interest in ownership models - as opposed to the geographical location of a brewery, its labour standards or, most importantly, the ingredients and means of production.
But how about you? I appreciate that there are plenty of things I don't care about in the beery discourse but this seems to stand out. When a brewery with one business model calls out the chosen and quite legal models of others, well, what is the point? Stifling business innovation? An established brewer inhibiting alternate entry models? Saddest, co-opting the role of the consumer to justify the position just adds a layer of muddle. But that is the good beer discourse, isn't it.