On this episode of the “VinePair Podcast, hosts Joanna Sciarrino and Zach Geballe are joined by VinePair writer at large Dave Infante to discuss the ever-changing landscape of craft beer. The 2010s marked a significant rise in craft breweries around the country, followed by massive buyouts and acquisitions. But why is the category facing a slump now? Tune in to learn more.

Listen Online

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Spotify

Or Check Out the Conversation Here

Joanna Sciarrino: From VinePair’s New York City headquarters, I’m Joanna Sciarrino.

Zach Geballe: And in Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe.

J: And this is the “VinePair Podcast.” In Adam’s absence today — that guy is such a world traveler — today on the pod, we’re happily joined once again by VinePair writer at large Dave Infante. Dave, thanks so much for coming on.

Dave Infante: Glad to be here, guys.

J: We’re always so glad to have you.

Z: Writer at large, in charge. I feel like that should be your official title.

D: Ooh, I’ll take it.

J: Before we jump into today’s topic, what have you guys been up to? What have you been drinking lately?

Z: Dave, you moved since you last joined us, right?

D: That’s right. I guess since the last time I was in front of your audience, auditorily speaking. I moved from Charleston, S.C., up to suburban New Jersey, which is where I grew up. I’m actually living with my parents at the ripe old age of 33. It’s temporary, I swear. Just to forestall any jokes about working in the basement, no, I actually have my own bedroom that I’ve converted into an office. Thank you very much. I get plenty of sunlight, just like a house plant. These days, I’ve been drinking a lot of boxed wine. A lot of Bota Box lately. It’s just so economical. One box is four bottles of wine. You can’t go wrong. I find that the suburban lifestyle suits boxed wine consumption cadence because it’s dispensed via spigot. That’s a lifestyle that I’m slowly absorbing and adopting as my own. So I’ve been a big Bota Box guy in the New Jersey suburbs.

J: It lasts a while, too, right?

D: Yeah, it lasts forever. It’s supposedly eco-friendly. I don’t know what happens to it after I put it in the recycling bin, out of sight, out of mind. Which is basically the working definition of the American recycling system. It says it’s getting recycled, and that’s good enough for me.

Z: Very cool. Do you have a favorite?

D: This is embarrassing. I’m a drinks podcaster. I’ve been drinking a lot of the red blend.

Z: We are hitting all my favorite things that people sh*t on unnecessarily: boxed wine, red blends. Go for it, Dave.

D: Yeah, recycling.

Z: The New Jersey suburbs.

D: That’s right. It’s a big old bag of red blend. My wife and I go through probably one a week or so. That’s a fair amount of red blend that we’re consuming, and it’s been pretty good for us. What have you guys been drinking these days?

Z: I was going to say, I’ve also been drinking a lot of red blends, but not out of a box. I was actually over in eastern Washington this past weekend for a little wine road trip with the wife and the baby. That was really nice. We visited some wineries that we like and some people that we know. We were there, in large part, for a kickoff for a wine brand or a new label for a winery that we like a lot. The wine label is called The Devil Is A Liar. It’s all centered around these Grenache-dominant blends sourced from this really crazy vineyard on Red Mountain. It’s this highly acclaimed appellation in the eastern part of the Yakima Valley in Washington. It’s mostly known for growing Cabernet Sauvignon and a little bit of Syrah as well. It’s a south-facing slope; it isn’t really a mountain in any real sense of the term. It’s not that tall, but it kind of stands by itself in this part of the valley. Someone got the idea to plant a vineyard on the backside just over the crest of the mountain or hill or whatever. It’s this crazy, wild, super-rocky, windy, kind of batsh*t crazy site to plant vines. But there’s something in that; some great wine comes from places that seem like they probably should not have vines in them. So this was my first chance to try a red wine from that vineyard. It’s a relatively new vineyard. I’ve had some whites from up there as well. It was really cool. It was The Devil Is A Liar, a very fun wine for us and a good excuse to get out of Seattle for a weekend.

D: The Devil Is A Liar sounds like a Taking Back Sunday album, doesn’t it?

Z: Definitely. I was asking the winemakers how they came up with the name and they’re like, “You know, we kind of just liked it.” OK, there’s probably a story you don’t want to tell me because I’ll share it with a larger audience, which is fair.

D: That’s like when you name your kid Caden or something, “Oh, we kind of just liked it.” That’s OK, I understand that explanation. The Devil Is A Liar is extremely specific to just “kind of like it,” and name a vineyard after it.

J: They’re definitely trying to appeal to a younger audience with that one.

D: Younger and godless, Joanna. Or I guess, extremely pious?

Z: I was going to say, The Devil Is A Liar feels very in line with church teachings.

D: Is that what the Zoomers are up to these days? Just praying?

Z: Maybe. Let us know, folks.

D: It’s just breaking new trends wide open. Zoomers, wine lovers.

Z: Boxed wine and prayer.

D: Put that in a white paper, we’ll sell that for $600 bucks via a PDF. I think we’re in business, guys.

Z: Why are we giving it away for free? All right, Joanna, get us back on track. What have you been drinking lately?

J: I have had a number of really great, interesting spring drinks. One that stands out that I actually first tried earlier in the year is the Sierra Nevada Sunny Little Thing, which they launched in January as the next in their Little Thing line up, Hazy Little Thing being the original. It’s a citrus sweet ale. It’s got big orange notes and is really juicy. It wasn’t ideal for January per se, but on a warmer, sunny day, which is when I had it. It was really delicious. So that was a standout of recent drinking for me. On to today’s topic, Dave published a few pieces with us over the last couple of months on the changing landscape of craft beer as a result of the changing business of craft beer. So we thought it’d be great to have Dave on today to discuss exactly what’s going on there and the evolution of the “craft beer sellout.” Dave, maybe you can back us up to the last decade when this tension first arose in craft beer?

D: Sure. In the year 2010 or so, you’ve got your BlackBerry, you’re on BBM with all your friends. It’s Obama’s second term; the Great Recession is just in the rearview. Some people bounce back, some people haven’t. It’s just a younger time. When we first started seeing acquisitions in the craft beer industry, they kicked off right around this time. The biggest, most high-profile one that kicked things off earliest was when Anheuser-Busch acquired Goose Island in Chicago in 2011. That wound up sparking some outrage and some apprehension from within the industry. The industry was communicating that outwardly to customers, trying to figure out what the best messaging was around making sure that people understood that because Goose Island was now acquired by the biggest beer company in the world, they were no longer a “craft brewer.” Over that ensuing decade, Anheuser-Busch acquired nine or 10 additional breweries, and Molson Coors picked up three or four. They didn’t acquire quite as many. Constellation got in there and bought Ballast Point for a cool $1 billion that they dumped just a few years later for $50 million. So that was a really bad investment. Heineken scooped up one-half of Lagunitas and then the other. There was a lot of acquisition going on by the big, what industry players would call “strategics,” or what we might call macrobrewers. That’s kind of how people outside the industry think of the big guys. But they saw a lot of growth in craft brewing.

J: A lot of opportunities.

D: Yeah, and when you’re a big CPG company whose flagship brands like the Bud Lights and the Miller Lites of the world are beginning to slow down and give up share, you go to where the growth is. Big companies like that have a lot of trouble developing innovation products in-house. It’s much bigger and much more difficult to bring things to market in a nimble, agile way. So the strategy becomes to buy the companies that are doing the cool sh*t. That’s why we saw that acquisition pattern play out over the course of the last decade. There was a lot of cultural angst tied up in these decisions. We would see what I refer to as gnashing of teeth. There’s a lot of flags in the sand: This is who we are, once you cross this line, you’re no longer one of us, you’re no longer a part of the craft brewing industry. I started the story out this way: Dick Cantwell at Elysian, which was acquired by Anheuser-Busch midway through the past decade, detailed experiences at their brick and mortar taprooms in the Seattle area in the Pacific Northwest area. After the sale, people would march into the taproom, order a pint of beer, and then dump it on the ground as a way of showing how upset they were with Elysian for taking the buyout and being sold off. There’s a sadness to it, certainly. I mean, Dick himself was opposed to that sale. His other partners, I think, were in favor of it. He wound up not having the vote in favor of staying independent. But more generally, for the breweries that were acquired and put themselves up for sale during that time, a lot of the brewers and founders were instrumental in building the scene. They were the ones in the ’80s and ’90s and early 2000s who were laying the groundwork for the industry as we know it today, establishing relationships with distributors, proving the concept of craft beer in a grocery store or sports bar environment. They broke a lot of ground. It felt like a betrayal to others within the industry to see their “comrades,” or their fellow fighters in the battle against big beer, turn sides and take the money and run, so to speak. That’s a reductive explanation of it, but that is by and large what we saw play out in the craft brewing industry in the U.S. in the last decade.

Z: I want to ask you a question about this and how this attitude might be changed, as you describe in that piece. In your opinion, Dave, with the change or general disinterest or protest and the gnashing of teeth when sales do happen, is that more about a recognition within craft beer that individuals or partners likely need an exit strategy unless it’s going to be a generational thing? That exit strategy can look a few different ways. You had New Belgium selling to their employees, but then obviously being scooped up by a big conglomerate. Is it more that people have said, “You know what, we can’t fight this.” Is this the reality for some of these businesses? As their founders get to retirement age, there’s only so many exit strategies for something like a brewery where you want to keep it going, but you yourself don’t want to do it. Or is it more about the changing economics for craft beer more broadly? I almost get the sense, and I’d be curious if this is your sense as well, that people in the industry are heartened by anyone wanting to buy a craft brewery. As you said on a previous appearance — and it stuck with me — is craft beer a legacy product at this point? I think there’s an argument to be made that anyone getting anything for their craft brewery in a sale is to be celebrated these days.

D: It’s a good distinction to draw out. I would probably toss one additional thing in there as we consider why this shift has occurred. I think that the business aspects that you outlined are certainly driving forces. The idea that these “founding fathers” — they weren’t all men, but the overwhelming majority of them are, so we’re going to refer to them generally as founding fathers — of the craft brewing industry have gotten to the point where they need an exit strategy. They’ve poured 40 years of their lives into the business and they want to cash out and enjoy their retirement. We saw that play out most recently with Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewery. He’s 63 years old; there was no real succession plan in place. His daughter had, I think at one point, taken over the business, but then ultimately decided it wasn’t for her. For her, it wasn’t a role she wanted to play. At that point, what’s Larry Bell going to do? The business can’t just go up in smoke. He’s got workers, he rightfully wanted to see his legacy live on. So you go looking for a buyer. That is certainly one narrative. The other narrative that you point out, Zach, is the buzzword of the moment in the headwinds. Even prior to the pandemic, craft brewing was facing mounting headwinds in the form of slowing growth and crowded distribution channels where it was very difficult to differentiate from the other 9,000 breweries that were trying to get their IPAs into the same supermarkets and onto the same tap towers. It was a difficult period even prior to the pandemic, and the pandemic really did the craft beer industry no favors. To some extent, it is reassuring or maybe soothing to the collective ego and it maybe looks a little bit like a safety net to see appetite for craft breweries as assets still there from the buy side. I think that’s comforting to some extent. Certainly with some sources I talk to you, it’s nice to be reminded that we are still generating value. If we do what we know how to do best, there’s value in the marketplace for that expertise and for that business that we’re building. The one factor I wanted to kind of layer on top of this, which is more cultural, is the people who “grew up” drinking craft beer and really gravitated to it in their 20s made it the young, hip product. It was in a lot of the cool second-tier cities and revamping industrial districts. It was a cultural phenomenon because of the young drinkers it attracted. Those young drinkers are in their mid-30s or even pushing 40 now. They are no longer the cool consumer base. They’re not the coveted drinking demographic anymore, and they’re not as engaged in sh*t that doesn’t directly affect them anymore. They have kids. They’re worried about mortgages. They’ve moved on with their careers. They’re not necessarily the ones obsessively refreshing the Beer Advocate forums to figure out whether or not Blue Moon is going to lose the lawsuit that a craft beer brought against them for claiming it was artisanal but it’s actually mass produced. People have moved on, and some of the biggest true believers on the consumer side naturally start aging out of it, and there’s no one to pick up the torch behind them.

J: I was going to add that as well. As somebody who’s not super familiar with the politics or business behind all of this, and now that there are over 9,000 craft breweries in the country, it just seems like it’s something that would be so hard to keep track of — especially with the blurring lines of what is and isn’t craft these days as well. Who has the time, like you said, Dave, to really get up in arms about this?

D: At one point, at its zenith, people would refer to craft brewing as a movement. I’ve made this distinction before when I’ve written for VinePair and elsewhere. There was a time when people really believed that they were doing something different in this category. It was more than just a consumer packaged good, that they were changing the way we thought about commerce and produce and community. One narrative that I’m pretty sympathetic to when I consider the arc of the craft brewing industry in this country is that craft beer got freighted with a bunch of expectations or burdens that it was never going to be able to carry. Once people start aging out of it or times get a little tougher and the business gets more competitive, people start to realize this is really just a business. As a consumer, I’m not going to make my personality about a business like this in the same way that I might have been more willing five years ago or 10 years ago to buy into it as a movement.

Z: Craft beer as a personality.

J: As an identity, right? That’s why it makes so much sense to me that when it was considered a movement last decade that people were so upset, because they had this identity that was attached to it. Like you said, they felt betrayed.

D: I remember Dick Cantwell telling me that it hurts. I forget exactly how he said it, but it hurts that the macrobrewers are able to hit us where we live. I think that’s how he phrased it. There is this idea that the industry was getting attacked. Certainly, people use the language of combat all the time in the business world. But it felt very personal in a way that a lot of business really isn’t framed as. That’s largely gone by the wayside as, again, the business has gotten tougher and the realities of operating successfully in a crowded field as tastes change, that has really set in for these brewers. Some of that artifice and some of that narrative has just fallen by the wayside because they can’t support it. They’re too busy focusing on keeping their business afloat however they can.

Z: That’s actually something I wanted to pivot to, this sort of notion of, where is craft beer at this moment? Dave, you mentioned that even before the pandemic, there were some real warning signs for craft beer. Whether it was, as you described, the slow aging out of craft beer’s most devoted drinkers out of either being the most coveted demographic or getting into a phase of life where they’re probably drinking less in total. They’re maybe drinking less beer, especially when we’re talking about things like IPAs which have higher calorie counts than a light lager or something like that. Set alongside this is what’s going on with craft beer and how it’s been, maybe more than any other beverage alcohol category, impacted by the rise of hard seltzer. Any story like this is going to have a lot of potential explanations and no one of them is going to be comprehensive. But if you were to try and pin down what you think has caused the craft beer slump, what would attribute it to, Dave?

D: I think it’s just a maturing business. Novelty, by definition, cannot sustain an industry. For the longest time, craft beer as a product was the novelty in the entire beverage alcohol industry, I would say. Spirits, certainly with craft distilling and small batch distilling, had kind of drafted off that a little bit. We didn’t see a ton of innovation in wine. I guess the rosé boom was kind of like the wine category’s mainstream breakthrough. But craft beer had a very long and sustained period where it was doing new sh*t all the time. People were excited about the products they were producing, but that could not last. Even halfway through the last decade, you started to hear from distributors complaining about what they would call “Rotation Nation,” where big beer bars were opening up with 30, 50, 100 taps. They would not keep kegs of the same beer on tap. They would burn through one tap, and then they would swap it in for something new because that’s what customers wanted. They wanted to taste something new. That was a big problem for distributors. There’s also a big problem for producers, where they weren’t going to be guaranteed that they were going to hold the top line for more than one or two turns every couple of months. But that presaged the coming problem for craft beer as we wound towards the end of last decade. At some point you cycle through pretty much everything beer can offer in terms of new flavor profiles and tastes. We see it pushing that extremity, certainly in the last couple of years. The top adjunct pastry/dessert stouts and slushy kettle sours that are made with marshmallow and have sediment in the can. Those are barely beer, I would say. I don’t say that from a snobbish perspective. I just say it’s to point out the obvious, which is that, there is a common conception of what beer is as a product. I don’t think that an alcoholic smoothie really fits that model. But to me what that says is, among other things, drinkers were looking for new and exciting, novel beverages, and brewers were having a tough time continuing to pull rabbits out. There were only so many rabbits they could pull out of the hat. We did sours, we’re doing kettle sours, cold IPA, black IPA. When you get into that spiral, unless you can continue to produce novelty, eventually the consumer is going to move on to someone who does. That left the door open more than any of the cultural aspects of it, although I certainly don’t think they helped craft beer. The fundamental reality that brewers could not continue to serve and satisfy that desire for novelty in the drinker, I think that’s what really led to its slowing growth, and I would say a little bit of an identity crisis as well.

J: Do you think that things will just taper off and brewers will go back to, not the basics, but things that they enjoy doing versus trying to continue to innovate and do different things for consumers’ sake?

D: It’s a good question. I think a lot of brewers would like to do that if you catch them at an honest moment. I don’t know of a lot of brewers that are thrilled, or at least aren’t willing to say publicly, that they’re thrilled with the direction that beer is going vis-à-vis some of the more over-the-top products that you’re seeing now on the market; this stuff with cereal adjuncts and marshmallow adjuncts, the smoothie beers, etc. As a business, because it is, a lot of these companies have capital structures that are held over from the salad days, the boom years. They took on a lot of debt or they did a bunch of fundraising, whether it is debt or equity, where they have to continue to deliver growth. And right now, the growth in craft beer is really hard. If you can get a hot line of double-dry-hopped IPAs that people are going to line up for and pay $25 a can for, great, that would be awesome. You can print money. There are probably two to three dozen breweries in the country that can swing that strategy. I think that’s pretty limited. More realistically, I think we’re going to see brewers that are able to deliver a very good, tightly curated variety of core beers and maybe a seltzer. I think they’ll have success. I don’t think you’re going to see growth anywhere near the rate that you used to. That will be a problem depending on which brewery we’re talking about and what their capital structure is, because they may not be able to pay off their obligations, in other words. So the business aspect of it makes it interesting. There are a lot of breweries, if the brewers were in charge, that would love to just go back to making lagers and not really worry about it. Maybe they’ll make a nice, balanced IPA, but that’s not what the consumer wants. Ultimately, the consumer is in charge of this business in a way that even five, six years ago, they really weren’t. As a drinking public, we used to defer a lot more to brewers for our education and for acquiring taste. We were looking to them to tell us what was cool and what was exciting. I think there’s been a big shift there, in terms of restoring agency to the drinker to say, “Here’s what I like. I want something that matches that. I want something that matches my preference and satisfies my drinking desire and not something that ‘I should be excited about.’”

Z: Well, in a way, that’s an interesting evolution of the whole ethos behind craft beer in the first place, which I think really arose out of this notion of a lot of people not even knowing what they wanted, just knowing that what macro lager was offering was not what they wanted. They were tired of that, and maybe they had heard about craft beer from someone they knew or they traveled abroad and tried beers in Germany or whatever that were that were not just macro lagers. But the American beer landscape was so homogenous into the 1980s. And now we’ve reached this perhaps logical end point where, as you said, Dave, breweries and brewers are not the ones out there discovering new styles and dictating them to their customers. It’s customers being like, “Well, why can’t I have a beer that tastes like marshmallows and unicorn farts?” Brewers now have to kind of be like, “OK, well, I guess we can make that.”

D: I was going to say something as a quick interjection. Zach, you and I have traded comments about this before on Twitter.

Z: Oh, the Hellscape? Yes, we have.

D: It’s either that consumers are looking for something very specific and over the top, or they’re looking for something very simple and straightforward. Craft beer, at its finest, really doesn’t tick either one of those boxes. You cannot make a grape soda with alcohol in it and call it a craft beer. We would think of that as a hard soda, a hard seltzer, or whatever you want to call it. But you wouldn’t really consider that a craft beer. On the opposite end of the spectrum, as we said earlier, it’s hard to consider a smoothie kettle sour really, truly a craft beer in the traditional sense. Whether the consumer is demanding something exorbitant and ridiculous or they’re just demanding something where they can turn their brain off and not have to make decisions because they implicitly understand the taste proposition of the product they’re buying, I think that craft beer has struggled to find its way between those two poles.

Z: I can definitely see that. There’s a last element that I want to get your opinion on real quick here. As we’ve seen this evolving landscape, you pointed out earlier in the conversation about the challenge that this new landscape might present for breweries that were established with a different sort of business model capital structure. One of those things to note and come back to the beginning of this conversation is, in the 2010s and into the latter part of the decade, we saw the rise of breweries that were very clearly created to catch the eye of big investors. They were looking to quickly bootstrap their way to large-scale distribution, figuring that you can either get a lot of market presence or, alternatively, get bought up by someone big and let them do that for you, that’s kind of your play. It’s not the thing where you slowly build a foundation in our home market and really be content there. I live here in Seattle, and I used to live right in the middle of one of those big beer hubs of the city. It’s undeniable that even in Covid times and certainly before, you go into that area on a Saturday, Sunday, or Friday, and the breweries are packed. People still want craft beer. They still want to do that. They still enjoy the experience. They still like the offerings. Some of those breweries may not be all the way on the ludicrous end of the spectrum; they’re aware of trends and have to be on top of them, for sure. But in one sense, craft beer’s proposition is still very appealing to a lot of people. It’s just that, maybe that appeal is never going to get you to the point where you sell for $1 billion to Constellation.

D: The days of selling a brewery for a billion dollars, it’s hard to imagine them coming back anytime soon. At least not for a craft brewery. Obviously, I’m not talking about a big, diversified portfolio. It’s hard to imagine them coming back anytime soon just because they don’t have the growth that would command multiple revenues. You can’t get a buyer. There’s only so much hype you can put on a brewery. But at the end of the day, when a potential buyer is doing due diligence, they’ll start chiseling away at that number in a way that they weren’t willing to get ahead of themselves in doing five, six, or seven years ago. One thing to keep in mind, and Zach, you make a great point, is that I don’t think full-flavored beer is going away. I try to always make the point in my stories. I don’t think we’re going back to the age of fizzy, yellow, adjunct lager. That seems extremely unlikely to me, and I definitely wouldn’t argue for that. Everything that we’re seeing, whether it’s in the beer industry or just broadly in beverage alcohol or hell, even just broadly in consumer packaged goods, is that the American consumer wants more interesting flavors, more novelty, more local ingredients, more organic and sustainable ingredients. Those trends all point towards some staying power for craft beer as a category, and I certainly don’t think it’s going away. I also don’t think taprooms are going away. I have a piece that’s about to be published here at VinePair.

J: The same day, yeah.

D: So If you download this, go back to VinePair and read the story. But I don’t think taprooms are going away, either, because the value proposition still holds. Do people like to bring their dogs and sit in the sun and drink beer? Yes. Is that going to change? Probably not. I wouldn’t bet on it. In terms of what that looks like from a business standpoint and who is still interested in buying these businesses, because they see synergies with their existing structure, I think that that buyer does believe that there’s still interest out there. It is not a matter of no one wanting to buy a brewery anymore. The questions are, how much money are we talking about? But also, where does it plug in to our business? All of the big strategics, all the macrobreweries, have already gotten their fill of craft breweries. Anheuser-Busch InBev is not buying more craft breweries for a couple of different reasons. They have a ton of debt, and they’re also very wary of provoking the Department of Justice on antitrust concerns if they continue to consolidate power in that market. It’s not really a part of the strategy for Molson Coors; it never was in the same way. Also, they’re very intent on expanding and becoming more of a “modern beverage company.” We’re not seeing the macros make those plays. More recently, we’re seeing companies with some strategic overlap outside of the beverage alcohol industry make their acquisitions because they see synergistic overlap. We’re talking about Monster and we’re talking about Tilray, specifically. One is an energy drink company and the other is a cannabis company. They see adjacencies, and particularly in the case of Monster, see a really attractive existing distribution network and expertise on getting beverage alcohol to market in the U.S. that they can plug into their existing operation. Tilray is a little bit different, but they see a lot of opportunities with the adjacency between cannabis and alcohol and the branding expertise that goes into selling these as lifestyle products. There are still buyers, but are the businesses attractive and prone to high valuations in the same way they once were? It’s hard to say. If you want to build a brewery that’s local, is self-contained, and has a sustainable business model that you’re going to be able to continue to pay your 15 employees and yourself and serve the community, you can still do that. If you have taken on a ton of debt to grow very rapidly with an eye towards selling for 10 times multiple of your revenue three years down the road, you may find that no one is willing to pay that price.

J: We’ve also talked about this with the taproom thing too, in terms of what makes sense for expansion and where for these breweries. But it’s probably not with the end goal of being acquired or selling off.

D: When we’re seeing taproom expansions, we’re seeing them from breweries that are doing them because they want to grow in those spaces, not because they want to sell off those assets. I don’t think that in the final analysis, those would be liabilities. If you’re trying to size up, I think that you’re adding value if you’re demonstrating on-premise expertise, but you’re not adding enormous growth potential. Those are not the type of assets that an acquirer is necessarily banging down the door to to pick up.

J: Well, this was all very interesting. Lots to think about. Dave, thank you so much for joining us once again. So great to have you here.

D: I’m sorry to always be the bearer of bad news. Was it bad news this time, or no?

Z: Honesty is appreciated.

J: It’s something to contemplate.

D: The last time I was on the pod, Zach and I made a wager about Coke. What was the exact wager?

Z: There will be a Coca-Cola-branded beverage alcohol product in five years.

D: That’s right. And I said, no, there wouldn’t. They would never risk their flagship on it. And you said I’m crazy and it’s definitely going to happen. As of right now, 4 percent of the way through our wager period, I’m still winning the bet. But there’s a lot of time to go.

Z: I feel like the Vegas odds have shifted in my favor since that point. I think I’m the betting favorite at this point.

D: I think that’s right. Maybe I’m going to have to go place another bet to hedge against this one. Someone get me Tim McKirdy’s number. I need to bet.

J: Oh, well, thank you both so much. And Zach, I will see you Friday.

Z: Sounds great.

Thanks so much for listening to the “VinePair Podcast.” If you love this show as much as we love making it, please leave us a rating or review on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever it is you get your podcasts. It really helps everyone else discover the show.

Now for the credits. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York City and Seattle, Washington, by myself and Zach Geballe, who does all the editing and loves to get the credit. Also, I would love to give a special shout-out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for helping make all of this possible, and also to Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, who is additionally a producer on the show. I also want to, of course, thank every other member of the VinePair team, who are instrumental in all of the ideas that go into making the show every week. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll see you again.

Ed. note: This episode has been edited for length and clarity.

This story is a part of VP Pro, our free platform and newsletter for drinks industry professionals, covering wine, beer, liquor, and beyond. Sign up for VP Pro now!