The May 2011 issue of Beer Advocate Magazine has a letter from the founder Todd and Jason Alström.  Their letter address the boycotts that have been waged at Big Beer and those associated with Big Beer.  The main line that caught me was their allegation that boycotters were passion filled and “boycott first, think later.”  I feel many of the people caught in the middle of these boycotts have a philosophy of money first, consequences later.  They associate with Big Beer to further their immediate goals.  An advertisement for Widmer Brothers graces the back magazine cover of the very same Beer Advocate issue.  Widmer is partially owned by our friends at AB InBev.  They are our friends right?  Draft magazine has advertisements for Budweiser.  These publications like breweries are snapping up great short-term revenue while going against their dedicated fans.

The big boycott receiving all the news lately centers around Free The Hops.  This group in Alabama asked consumers to boycott not just AB InBev owned products but any product that is sold by an AB distributor.  One of the bills Free The Hops was pushing was the Gourmet Bottle Bill which would allow 22 oz bottles to finally be sold in Alabama.  AB InBev is against the sale of the larger size bottles which are typically produced by smaller breweries.  Free The Hops advocated a boycott of  Great Divide which uses an AB distributor.  Some of Great Divide’s best work only comes in 22 oz bottles.  So when you buy a 6-pack of Great Divide a portion of your purchase is actually going to the distributor that was working to block those other Great Divide beers.

Great Divide is not the only one doing this.  Years ago Goose Island sold a minority stake of the brewery in order to open distribution channels.  Why does Great Divide continue to use the same distributor and why did Goose Island need to sell to open new distribution channels?  The three-tiered system is part of the issue.  Many states also have provisions that make it extremely difficult to switch distributors.  In order to prevent potential problems and initiate growth Two Brothers in Illinois opened their own distribution company and later sold it to their wives in order to remain completely independent.  So what can breweries do about this?  Focus on the reason you got into the business- to help make, promote and drink good beer.  Stop trying to grow so fast and focus on your product; you are only hurting yourself.  Your customers?  Well we have your back.  You do right by us we will do right by you.



  1. jackscrow says:

    Funny. If been boycotting AB products my whole life.

    When they don’t make (or buy) anything good, it’s so easy it’s almost not a boycott.

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.