An infographic that summarizes who owns who in the beer world has been circulating on the internet. You may need a jewelers loupe to see all of the business deals that have finalized over the last few years, but there is precious little ink used on whether a deal is good or not long-term for independent craft beer. Who is the evil empire now?
Zeroing in on Los Angeles, it is easy to see what is wrong with the Golden Road expansion (amidst noise and community protests in Sacramento and Oakland) by the Belgian/Brazilian owned InBev. Loss leader pricing and marketing mattering more than beer. Not to mention a little thing about “beating” the competition vs. growing a community.
Other than Three Weavers, CANarchy consists of Colorado’s Oskar Blues, Florida’s Cigar City Brewing, Texas’s Deep Ellum Brewing Co., Michigan’s Perrin Brewing, and the Utah Brewers Cooperative which houses the Wasatch and Squatters beer brands. You will notice that geographically, those breweries spread across beer loving America. These state by state co-ops, as it were, are one of the better ways to combat the national prominence of Bud, Miller, and Coors.
Because their only true (non-monetary) advantage is a nationwide distribution network that can get their cans and bottles from gas station to mini-mall all across the country. They never seriously wanted to compete on quality or innovation. They have lost that battle in the hearts and minds of practically everyone, even the non-beer people you may know. “They” have tried multiple routes to pocketbooks and all of them have ended in being pulled back. How long will ABInBev really stay in the aforementioned Sacramento or Oakland? My bet is that within a few years, small breweries or craft-centric bars will be plying their trade in those locations.
This is where we loop back to the “big” argument and Three Weavers. Just because the major beer players have not used their power wisely or for the best interests of beer consumers doesn’t mean that a new paradigm can’t be found that will replace that old one. Will large regional breweries be the path? Sierra Nevada has moved that way as have others like Green Flash with different success rates.
The goal is to make sure that fresh, local beer can be well distributed. Everything I have heard from co-founder Lynne Weaver and brewmaster Alexandra Nowell has been about beer. What they like about their Kolsch or their collaboration beers. If not that, then they are talking about Inglewood and what will be a potential tailgate heaven when (fingers crossed) the new NFL stadium finishes.
A telling quote for me came from a press release that said, “Three Weavers will continue to support our community – the craft beer industry, fellow craft breweries, independent beer, and of course, local craft beer drinkers. We are truly excited to partner with the entire CANarchy Craft Brewery Collective and look forward to what we will accomplish together in the coming years.”
Is that press speak? Probably. Is the language similar to the press releases that “sold out” breweries use? Yes, but in this case, I would say that the revolution in beer is simply taking on a new role. This isn’t the young princess from Alderaan anymore; this is the general that is weighing multiple scenarios and maybe this is how you “beat” the old order and usher in the new, once and for all. And maybe, Three Weavers will be in that vanguard.
Let’s compare and contrast the two latest styles to come down the IPA expressway. On one side is Brut. On the other Milkshake. I have a sweet tooth, but even for me, the latter style is just too much of a sugar bomb for me. One exception has been the Pure Project Murkshake. (I like the name too.)
I will grant that the hop seems to be forgotten in the style. Only added for name and tap recognition. But the peach version really delivered on the “shake” claim. The beer was super creamy and had a light but firm hold of stone fruit to it. The pour that I had was not “cloudy” in the least, but I have come to expect that haze may or may not be there. That aside, this was a fun beer to drink.
On the Brut side, Eagle Rock Brewery has a great example done in collaboration with Social Kitchen, which is credited for the sub-style invention. But I had a can of Negative Plato (love the home brew reference) from Bootlegger’s Brewery that showcases what the style is about. Very low bitterness. You think that you are having a light pils, but it is drier and not sparkly at all. Yet it doesn’t sit there all flat and viscous. You may very well see it on my Best Of list in a few months.
You will probably land on a different part of the Milkshake/Brut equation than I do, but I encourage you to find the above options or local ones and find out which you prefer.
Mark on your calendar the following beer get together: El Segundo Brewing (who are working on a slice and beer shop FYI) will be releasing their take on the Brut IPA, Brut AF. They have teamed with The Full Pint website to create a follow-up to the popular Clear AF IPA. On August 11, the co-creators (co-conspirators) will be on hand for the release along with Vella Pizza.
You will be able to kill two ABInBevs with one stone. First you will be patronizing a staunch L.A. brewery in ESBC and you will be drinking a style that they could never, ever bring to market. In fact, I dare Bud to make a Brut IPA right here.
PS – It won’t happen.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.