It’s Time to Embrace Competition and Camaraderie

When I was growing up beer was just beer, and good beer wasn’t really discussed. In fact, I only remember beer flavor being a state of preference, not a representation of quality.

Today style, flavor and brewer define an entire population. If you drink East Coast brews you could be disregarded by those that taste the true flavors from the upper Northwest. I suppose being from the “Midwest” aka Kentucky, I’ve become unbiased to the battle.

In my world there is beer, good beer and great beer. Occasionally I’ll discover something that sets itself apart from the rest, either for the good or the bad. However, when I think about how what I’m drinking defines certain populations, it makes me wonder what that means for our industry.

Like Kim Jordan, the CEO and co-founder of New Belgium Brewing, stated in the interview for our Spring 2015 issue, competition is very good. It keeps brewers on their toes striving for greatness. I agree with this 100 percent. There’s nothing better in this world than a tad bit of competition.

What scares me is line being drawn between brewers. A lot of this is being drawn by the consumer market, but I fear that it could one day seep into the brewery doors themselves.

What Jordan also shared, as well as many others have over the years, is a need of camaraderie and collaboration. A lot of you out there are already working diligently with one another developing great tasting beers. Nothing makes me smile bigger than to see brewers from different area codes brewing together.

What I want everyone to be aware of is how sometimes competition can get a little too fierce. I can understand taking small jabs at Goliath because it buys up the breweries of your peers. But what happens, when in five to 10 years, Goliath is one of your peers?

American breweries are growing faster now than ever before. We have some breweries being evaluated for a lot wealth, and others being traded publicly. While all this is good for business and the industry as a whole, what’s not good is taking shots to try and keep others down.

Not everyone in this industry is going to design a billion dollar brewery. Sometimes that’s just the luck of the draw. But what’s important in this industry is remember most brewers, at one point, started out in the same place — with a homebrew kit and a dream.

It’s on us to deliver our industry from this negative hatred of region and size. It’s on us to convey the emotions that we want our customers to possess. While you can’t control everyone that consumes your beer, you can establish good will and hope that it will carry on into your beers and into the consumers hand and mind.


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