It’s been a while since I made a blog entry… I guess facebook handles most of the day to day updates these days. That said, I felt the need to muse a bit on the subject of support amongst craft brewers and breweries that will be a bit long winded for facebook alone. So I thought I’d post here instead!
What got me thinking about the paradigm of comradery amongst craft brewers was another great blog entry by Jessica over at GirlsLikeBeerToo. Jessica posted a great interview she conducted recently with Greg Koch, the co-owner of Stone Brewing Company. Stone, if you don’t know, is an example of success and craft beer philosophy for just about anyone else in the brewing arena. At any rate, you can find her entire post here.
The interview with Greg covers a broad range of topics, but one piece of it in particular struck a cord with me and I just had to share. Koch, a fierce proponent of a supportive “compatriot” relationship with other craft breweries and brewers, at one point made the following statement:
“If you are out there on the playing field, and you say you are going to play like compatriots rather than competitors, but then you get completely body checked on the side. And you realize it was intentional. You get back up and you dust yourself off, do you decide that they’re competitors now? Or do you change your behavior? And I say it’s up to the individual player. We’ve been body checked so many countless times, usually by big brewers, usually by big wholesalers, sometimes by craft brewers, and you know what? You get back up – that sucked – but that doesn’t change the way we play the game. I might try and tune my peripheral vision a little bit, not allow ourselves to be blindsided again. But I still believe that this is a game best played with my compatriots. No, my attitude has not changed. Every time we have to pick ourselves up, another craft brewery is there to help. Like a mosh pit. If you get knocked down in a mosh pit, you pick each other up. That’s the ethic.”
As someone struggling just to get started in the business, I take this statement to heart. Not only is this philosophy of comradery something I seek in my own journey to successful entrepreneurship, it’s a philosophy I’ve adopted as a brewer in general. A climate of supportiveness amongst craft brewers and breweries, home brewers, and craft beer aficionados in general is something you see and hear about often. I’ve experienced it myself on many occasions and it’s truly amazing. I absolutely agree with and applaud Greg for his comments.
On the flip side of the coin, like Greg, we’ve already experience the ugly side of the craft brewing industry – and we’re not even open yet! Indeed, as pointed out, not all craft breweries and brewers share the same philosophy. Despite having once (no doubt) found, and perhaps even relied upon, the support and encouragement of fellow craft brewers already in business – not all successful craft breweries hold true to the spirit of comradery Greg espouses. Indeed, some (the names of which most would be shocked to hear) have apparently chosen a different path. One that relies on wealth, power, and intimidation to achieve market dominance. Instead of supporting their fellow brewers, these operations choose instead to play the same game, and utilize the same tactics, as the oft decried corporate giants of the brewing industry.
Despite having already been “body-checked”, it is my commitment to the brewing community, and the craft beer drinking population at large, to never stop supporting those who make, consume, and truly love craft beer. I will never stoop to tactics of intimidation and repression. Instead, we at Apocalypse Brewing plan on always fostering an environment of support and encouragement for our fellow craft brewers and beer loving compatriots!
We recognize that there are many stumbling blocks for us on our path to brewing success and that we need all the support, advise, insight and encouragement we can get along the way. We hope to repay this dept forward by doing the same for others who might be on the same journey with us. And what an amazing journey it is…