The second week of April, 2017 will forever be known in beer circles as the week big beer punched up to bigger beer, and bigger beer punched right back. I’m talking, of course, about The New York Times opinion piece, “Last Call for Craft Beer” by Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Company, and the subsequent (mocking) response by the MillerCoors blog Behind The Beer.
Koch argues in his opinion piece that lazy government oversight will cause craft beer to fall into the hands of big beer companies. The two mega brewers AB InBev and MillerCoors, Koch writes, will monopolize the market even more and cause craft beer growth to grind to a halt. MillerCoors’ response not so slyly attributes Koch’s attitude to Boston Beer’s declining share price, then goes on to say that big beer actually has been supporting craft beer for longer than anyone else (which I don’t think anyone’s buying).
All mockery aside, though, Koch has a bit of a point here. Consolidation into two giant beer conglomerates isn’t good for competition — especially when beer distributors are controlled by those very same conglomerates. But it’s not like Boston Beer Company is some small bubble desperately trying to avoid being absorbed by a larger bubble. Seriously. Just look at how many brands Boston Beer Company owns. (Not that that’s a bad thing. I’m a fan of plenty of its beers).
Don't Miss A DropGet the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.
For beer drinkers, the last call is far from near. And no, VinePair hasn’t been paid off by MillerCoors to agree with the MillerCoors blog post. There was a slowdown in craft beer growth in 2016, but it’s by no means a contracting market. There are more than 5,300 breweries in the United States — more than ever before — and growth is growth. I don’t know about you, but that has me feeling pretty good, and that’s not just from the wide variety of beers I get to drink.
Craft beer is still growing despite all the buyouts, partial buyouts, and “strategic partnerships.” Small breweries are popping up in places that used to only know the taste of fizzy, slightly alcoholic yellow water. There are plenty of craft brewers out there who have had much less success than Koch who are extending last call into the indefinite future. I’m optimistic, stupidly or not, and look forward to only hearing “last call” inside the four walls of a bar.
In other beer news, life moved on.
Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Golden IPA gets a shout out from America’s official beer historian
Time Magazine scored an interesting interview with the Smithsonian’s new beer historian Theresa McCulla for National Beer Day. The Q&A is a good read in its own right, covering everything from a TL;DR history of American brewers to beer purity to McCulla’s declaration that “this is definitely the age of craft beer.”
Oh, yeah, she only name-dropped one six-pack that is in her fridge right now: Sierra Nevada Beer Camp Golden IPA.
BrewDog became decidedly less punk
BrewDog — the Scottish beer company that made a name for itself by being vehemently anti-big beer — sold a 22 percent stake to TSG Consumer Partners, the company that owns a stake in Pabst Blue Ribbon. Guess article 37.5 of the BrewDog articles of association doesn’t mean what it used to back in 2015 (“The Board will exercise its discretion granted in Article 37.1 to refuse to register any transfer of any Certificated Share to a transferee who is a monolithic purveyor of bland industrial beer.”)
To use BrewDog’s own words, “it is pretty ironic that once-iconic craft brews are being used to push mass market beer sales and lock out other craft beers.”
No one, it turns out, is immune to money. Not even punks. The massive amount of money it’ll take to make that beer hotel looks like it’ll come through, though.
People are writing beer and food pairings like no one has ever eaten and drunk beer at the same time
Where have people been the past, I don’t know, thousand years? Beer and food go together and always have, but publication after publication after publication is writing about beer and food pairings like they just discovered the next cronut. You know what this means. In about seven months, every publication will be writing about how beer pairings are bullshit and the best pairing is drinking what you like with the food you like.