A couple weeks back, I drove over to Cumberland Brewery for a morning chat with Mark Allgeier. We both remarked about the difficulty in espousing the virtues of localism in brewing, particularly as it pertains to wholesale distribution.
Lagunitas came up, and I observed that I couldn't even remember the last time I'd had one. No offense, but it means next to nothing to me. It's just another beer from somewhere else, and my beery libido is more regional these days.
I was walking back to my car, and there was the Lagunitas truck in front of Old Town Liquors. The Heineken deal was announced the following day, I believe.
The point is that Stephen Beaumont hits the center of the target. Maybe you'll take HIS word for it.
Dear Brewery with the ‘SOLD’ Sign: Cut the Crap!, by Stephen Beaumont
... Look, I get it that when you build a small business into a larger one you have a corresponding rise in responsibilities. I understand that there are employees to consider, investors to pay out, maybe bank loans to finance. I know personally about the sacrifice and strife involved in being an entrepreneur for 25 or more years, grinding away and hoping that others will share your vision sufficiently that your business might turn into a success. And I appreciate that many long-time brewery owners may not have a succession plan in place.
Hell, I even understand pure avarice of the “they backed up a dump truck full of money” variety.
But when your company’s entire marketing strategy has for years been based upon the premise of “small is good, big is evil,” do you honestly think it reasonable to suddenly turn on a dime and tell us otherwise? After imploring us to “buy local” for decades, does it really make sense to expect us to abruptly opt for “international” instead? Do you really believe that the joining of a small brewery – and let’s face it, everything in craft brewing is tiny relative to the big international brewers! – with a multi-billion dollar company can ever be anything even approaching a “meeting of equals”? Do you truly think that the massive corporate structure to which you have just made your sale really “shares the passion” that led you into craft brewing in the first place?