“Good” Craft Brewers v. “Bad” Craft Brewers? Real v. Not-Real?

I’ve long been fascinated by the way craft beer “insiders” (aka beer geeks) perceive their perceived “enemy”: Mainstream Beer. Logic and reason seem to fly out the brain’s window when fans of craft beer contemplate who ought to be allowed into the craft beer club and who ought not. (A point I contemplated at length in the last chapter of my book Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer.)

A prime example is a fascinating blog entry just posted by the ever-contrarian Andy Crouch — a followup to a blog entry he wrote a week or so ago.

This is all apropos of another example of the illogic of the beer geeks: The desire of some of them to oust “foreign” beers from the Great American Beer Festival.

The GABF is just what the name implies: a festival devoted to American beer. Last year, there was rumbling that Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, and Leinenkugel all ought to be booted from the festival because  they’re “foreign owned.” (Leinenkugel is owned by SABMiller.)

What I wondered at the time was: Do critics want to go that road? Because that would also mean booting Mendocino Brewing Company, one of the oldest craft brewers in the United States. It’s been foreign-owned since the late 1990s. That, by the way, is not a criticism of Mendocino’s original owners; in the late 1990s they faced a choice: sell or go under. They opted to sell — to save the company — and to continue to make great beer.

Of course the more interesting question is this: How many people who drink Mendocino know that it’s no longer wholly-American-owned?

More to the point, if they did know, would they suddenly decide that the beer is undrinkable? Hard to know. Worth pondering. (And if you’re up for more beer-related ruminations, check out Stan’s latest blog entry, in which he asks people to comment on “extreme beers.”)

4 thoughts on ““Good” Craft Brewers v. “Bad” Craft Brewers? Real v. Not-Real?

  1. With this anti-foreign ownership thinking, where would one draw the line as to percent American ownership, 100%, 60% or 30%?

  2. Precisely! It’s a slippery slope.Take cars, for instance. I drive a Toyota. It was made in the U.S. by American workers. Many Detroit products, in contrast, are built in Mexico. So who’s driving the foreign car?Take it a step further: Every American whose 401k or pension plans are invested in Toyota (or Honda) have earned profit from that investment, profits we then often spend here in the U.S.Those who invested in a Detroit automaker (probably all of us)? We’re not earning so much from that investment, certainly not enough to spend.

  3. Seems like it would be pretty shocking if the Brewers Association limited access of the bigs–they’ve been so solicitous of them. As for Mendocino, those of us who recall Vijay Mallya circling Full Sail like a shark in 1998 knew VERY WELL who owned it. It was one of the main reasons Full Sail managed to avoid outside takeover. The days of drawing hard lines are over. It’s a global world we live in now. I’d put a bit of mustard on the question though by asking whether Trumer Pils ought to be considered domestic. That’s where the rubber meets the road.

  4. Yup. And at some point, the BA is gonna have to decide what happens when rubber meets road. Another thought: At some point, Boston Beer (Sam Adams) will pass that magic 2 million barrel mark, and then the BA will have to decide if he’s a bad guy — or a good guy. Stay tuned.


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