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Rebel IPA vs Lagunitas?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Starkbier, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. Starkbier

    Starkbier Savant (260) Maryland Sep 19, 2002

    darthvohn and pieface22 like this.
  2. socon67

    socon67 Advocate (600) New York Jun 18, 2010

    I can get where Lagunitas would see a large craft brewery making a west coast IPA as something that would eat into their sales. But unless I'm missing something beyond this feed, where is BBC "specifically targeting" any brewery? I don't think of Lagunitas as the poster child for the style. In fact, the first ones that come to mind that have large distribution is Stone and Ballast Point. Breweries shouldn't mind the big guys trying their hand at many styles.
  3. As Tony noted in a Tweet about half way down the BeerPulse thread, BBC reps supposedly admitted it to (or, maybe, "requested it of") their wholesalers which also distribute Langunitas beers.
  4. core42

    core42 Savant (460) Michigan May 5, 2010

    This tweet from Tony @Lagunitas sums up why he is pissed:
    "Here we go- BB specifically told our distribs in common that they were going t TAKE r tap handles everywhere they could."

    Tony sees this as a personal attack on his children (the brewery) which is why he is so pissed
  5. Ever brewery who makes a west coast ipa tries to take taps from other breweries. sure there may have been mention of lag to a specific distributor but what if lag is the only craft beer that distributor carried? Small chance I know but every time a new brewery makes a beer In a different style of course they want a to take the competitors tap handles
  6. socon67

    socon67 Advocate (600) New York Jun 18, 2010

    As opposed to Stone IPA, which is a similar beer with at least as large a distribution? If Tony is hearing feedback from his distributors that BBC is specifically asking their sales reps to replace Lagunitas IPA kegs with Rebel he is certainly justified in being angry. And if its being done with free keg deliveries as an incentive that's an even bolder step. But the idea of one company bringing a product to market and asking their channels to get it placed where it can sell is not new. If the distributor does supply both BBC and Lagunitas and has one tap handle allocated to a west coast IPA they will have a decision to make. If a craft bar has customers who like Lagunitas IPA I'm doubting that keg gets switched out.
    RobertV916 likes this.
  7. AnalogErik

    AnalogErik Savant (385) Minnesota Jul 23, 2013

    Eh, Rebel IPA isn't much of a threat.
  8. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (365) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006

    First, we really don't need MORE people looking for Heady, Pliny and so on - there's little enough of it out there as it is. :)

    Regarding the issue at hand, we really don't know exactly what was said to whom, when.
    In anything I've ever heard and read about BBC (Sam Adams, Jim Koch) they wouldn't specifically target any one brewer. Maybe someone in their marketing department went off-reservation, maybe it was the distributor, maybe it's all a misunderstanding. I would like to hear form BBC about the issue.
    I do see as them wanting as many SA handles as possible, that's what they're in business for; to sell as much beer as possible. However, I don't often see SA beer in the hardcore beer bars, they're often in the chain restaurants and non-beer geek bars.
    I did have a chance to try the Rebel on tap the other day, and it is good. Not a world class IPA, not a mega-hop-bomb, but a solid, well balanced brew. I would have no problem drinking it regularly.
    Boca-X likes this.
  9. jmmy3

    jmmy3 Savant (335) Massachusetts Nov 30, 2010

    While reading through that tantrum, I kept thinking 'Man, I should not be buying this nutcase's beer.' None of us know if this dude's information is accurate or not, but even if it is, someone needs to muzzle that idiot before he turns alot of people off from his brewery.
  10. sefus12

    sefus12 Savant (275) Kentucky Sep 7, 2006

    I believe any brewery that makes an IPA wants to take business from other IPAs. From what I'm reading, the Lagunitas folk/folks seem to be a bit whiny about the whole thing. And from what I've read about Koch in the past, he/BBC has been more than helpful to other small breweries.

    And who the hell cares if some sales rep for BBC said they want to take tap space away from other WCIPAs? That's the point of making the Rebel IPA in the first place, to get market share. And deep down I'd be willing to bet that Lagunitas has/had the same idea when making their beers also, even if someone in their company didn't say so.

    With that said, Lagunitas IPA isn't exactly world-class and when they hit markets in KY here soon, I'll be less inclined to buy it. I tend to avoid supporting drama-queens when possible.
    itchytasty likes this.
  11. shand

    shand Advocate (645) Florida Jul 13, 2010

    If anything, Tony's openness on Twitter has led me to pick up Lagunitas a little more often.
  12. I hear that. Whether I agree with him or not, Tony always piques my interest. He's articulate, smart, & frequently contrarian. Lagunitas has become one of my favorite breweries, & part of that is how fascinating I find the personality behind it.
    laglocal, mizary, CalgaryFMC and 6 others like this.
  13. shand

    shand Advocate (645) Florida Jul 13, 2010

    I really like that you can read the bottle labels and the tweets and tell that they came from the same person, as opposed to some hidden marketing exec trying to maximize sales with the right buzzwords.
    laglocal, mizary, Jay_Ulreich and 5 others like this.
  14. jmmy3

    jmmy3 Savant (335) Massachusetts Nov 30, 2010

    It's kind of hard for anyone to sound articulate on Twitter, with the broken and abbreviated text. He comes off as a screaming child in my opinion. It's one thing for him to be a colorful character, but he comes off as more of a prick than anything else in those tweets, angry that a bigger brewery would dare make a West Coast IPA because he totally invented the West Coast IPA. Oh wait...
  15. jmmy3

    jmmy3 Savant (335) Massachusetts Nov 30, 2010

    I also picked up on a knock on BB or sorts for not 'searching for new and undiscovered flavors' or however he put it. This is coming from a dude who basically only makes IPAs, which I find interesting. Not saying I have a problem with that, but he can't exactly knock them for something he's not doing himself either.
    CBlack85 and audioserf like this.
  16. Maybe not, but a company that has people who are interested in how this performs would be
  17. Starkbier

    Starkbier Savant (260) Maryland Sep 19, 2002

    What's happening here is Tony put out the capital to have huge capacity to brew a whole lot of Lag IPA, plus however much of Sucks and the other nice hoppy beer he makes. Now that's getting into SAMs size, even though Sierra is more a direct target. I was also surprised when Tony made comments about SN and Torpedo but this seems to be both his frankness and personality I gather. If I'm Tony, I'd sit back more and gander at those nice big shiny Rolec brew kettles and smile, smile, smile. Or start making teas and ciders!
    laglocal likes this.
  18. GetMeAnIPA

    GetMeAnIPA Savant (495) California Mar 28, 2009

    Mmmmmm Sucks, Maximus, IPA, little sumpin, brown shugga, undercover, cap stout. Pretty sure I won't be buying Rebel IPA anytime soon.
  19. DogTown

    DogTown Savant (260) California May 17, 2006

    Greetings and Happy New Year Advocates!

    Google Alerts always pings me just before somebody calls me a whiny assed bitch sooner or later, and in this case being a screaming child and a prick was good enough...

    Here's the way I see the scenario: This particular thing is really more about Craft brew marketing and it's future than it is about me or Lagunitas... One of our largest distributors (in fact ABI's 3rd largest) on the east coast was told directly by Jim's senior-enough marketing people (they sell both of our brands) that the roll-out of their IPA was going to target our draught IPA business for replacement. This 'program' would roll westward over time. Some here said that 'everybody does this'.

    That's not true.

    A perfect example was how Torpedo and Ranger went to market to be alongside other IPA's... and then you, the beer lover, could decide which stays and which goes, if either. THAT is very constructive and makes us all amp up our game. Targeting for replacement is precisely what ABI/MC/Etc do when they go to market. The thinking being that that retailer will sell whatever is on tap and NOT SELL things that are not on tap. This approach sees beer as a commodity, which it sort'a used to be, before Craft.

    About 6 months ago BeerMarketersInsight (an very well-read industry newsletter 50 years old) reported that BB was buying cases and kegs of our IPA, specifically ours, on the east coast, for recipe emulation and taste panel testing. That is flattering.

    Skip forward to today, upon hearing this plan presented to them our east coast distributor's senior management sent a letter to their people rejecting BB's plan and saying that they would instead buttress our business and prevent this from happening. They were actually angry about it. This IS something new.

    Some have said what a generous fella it is that leads BB. They are a marketing machine first and foremost. You have to recall that they didn't see any reason to even own a brewing kettle until recent years and only when their un-owned capacity threatened to dry up on them. They have sold hops to small breweries during the shortage but they were absolutely hops that they were over-contracted on. This was not so much to 'help' small brewers as it was to buy your love, and maybe it worked. You might call me cynical, and maybe I am, but perfect paranoia is often perfect awareness. As the owner of the brewery, this is my job; defense of the Planet of Lagunitas.

    The idea that BB helps little guys is pretty over-stated marketing material. They are not evil, they are not un-cool because of size (if they are un-cool at all), but they want to remain at the very top of the Craft pyramid (who can blame them) and they now feel they need to get a leash on the IPA channel. Come put a hook in the pond right next us, I say, but they can not have my seat along the shore, and that is what the market plan called for. Why Lagunitas? You'd have to ask them.

    Most of you probably were not into craft beer in the late 1990's, but in San Francisco where we were just being born, BB gave away nearly as much beer as they sold. That is not legal in CA. They regularly priced their six-packs down to $4.99 and all the big Oregon and Washington brewers followed them down there. BB was partly responsible for the market troubles out here back then. It was a scorched-earth/last man standing/drive volume approach. I watched it all from a very low foxhole, but I remember it all very well and they are the same competitor now that they were then.

    I'd guess that almost nobody remembers the national roll-out by BB of their inspired 'Oregon Ales' brand. They wanted to capitalize on the consumer un-awareness of real brands from Oregon and BB thought they might 'capture share' by making Oregon craft brands into a generic easy to find substitute. In the end, it died. That was cynical and there are similarities here.

    In that time, Craft brewers focused on the major brewer's handles and imports like Beck's and Moosehead and other loosely grounded business. We still do that. We target that stuff. But large Craft players have not before targeted their own kind. This is something very new and may well be one of the horsemen of the SKU-pocalypse so many are talking about, as history predicts it.

    About what I said about making a beer that no one has thought of yet; Jimmy3 was not correct in his analysis. It IS what I've always done. We do make a bunch of IPAs, but I began making IPAs in 1995 when there were none done as a flagship in CA and only Bridgeport doing it in the NW. Retailers would not want to carry it saying that "nobody liked beers that bitter." That was the definition of over the horizon. And we've stayed on that track. I don't need to make sours and barrel aged beers as our front line things, other are doing that very well. Why should we feel like we have to 'gain share' there too...?

    I have a visual that keeps me calm about the near future: I imagine the Craft Market as the outside of a sphere, the surface of a planet. This sphere is inflating like a balloon. That represents its growth. Each second every point on the surface is moving away from each other uniformly as it grows in surface area. Then I imagine Craft Brewers as two figures standing on that surface. If they stand still, they move apart as it inflates. But these two figures, these two brands, HATE EACH OTHER. So they rush forward with all of their strength, each to kill the other, but no matter how fast the run they are borne backward, away from each other and can never actually engage in hand-to-hand combat. What little they gained in the effort to engage is overshadowed by the collateral opportunities they ignored in the rush toward the other. One day Craft will be a 50-share of US, and then there must be competition, but at a 12-share (or even a 25-share if you count ShockTop/BlueMoon/Etc!!) it is a total waste of effort.

    Lastly... I use twitter just because it moves the needle the way it does. The very small aperture that is twitter makes a sharper image, good or bad. I did that on twitter because I wanted to push BB off of their intended kill. They will probably persist with the effort, but the world is slightly hipper to their plans now and that is good for us and for our little industry.

    The BA Forum is a better place for complex things like this but twitter is a sharper blade. Thanks for reading if you still are...

    Happy New Year's Eve all.... Cheers!
  20. ^^^ Give em' hell Tony^^^

    Keep pumping out the winners--I've never seen anyone standing in line for BBC.

    When you've maxed out Chicago--come to Asheville.

    o_O
  21. fritts211

    fritts211 Savant (285) Tennessee Feb 19, 2011

    As to why they copied you Tony, I think it's more than likely because you guys are unparalleled in combining affordability, quality, acclaim (specifically sucks) and rapid expansion for west coast style IPAs. I can't think of any brewery off hand that marries all of those concepts to your degree.

    I'm a Sam fan, but rest assured I'd take a lagunitas ipa over a rebel any day at any bar. Keep it up Tony, and happy New Years.
  22. I have to agree with the folks who are saying meh about this. I am not a SA hater, I think they do some interesting stuff, but their ales have never appealed to me, I favor American/California style IPA over European style IPAs which seems to be SA's thing. It would be interesting if they put out an IPA to get excited about, but I don't see it happening...
  23. crossovert

    crossovert Champion (765) Illinois Mar 29, 2009

    Tried them both, lagunitas is better.
  24. Eric15

    Eric15 Savant (390) Alabama Dec 7, 2013

    Epic post by Tony. Competition is what makes every industry better for us as consumers. BB wants to stomp as much as they can out and rolling into the ipa matket(don't kid yourself that what they've sold so far compares to real ipas) they chose Lagunitas as the most competitive. Some of u will argue that tony is just worried about the cash in all of this and not us or the beer. I ask u this, as good as their ipa, sumpthin sumpthin, brown shugga, hop stoopid all are, and they're all usually $8-10 or less (I'm in Bama where so far we have been getting screwed on some pricing) is he trying to just sell more beer? I don't think so, u can feel the passion he has in this post alone. I'm pumped to finally have Lagunitas here (just bought another brown shrugga sixer today) and this makes me a bigger fan.
  25. rrock44

    rrock44 Savant (315) Washington Oct 27, 2009

    Sam Adams is a gateway beer. Gets you trying things besides miller lite, etc. Lagunitas is a main event type brewery. Give me lagunitas any day.
    ToriBug13, prock180, dubl_xl and 2 others like this.
  26. NooseJustice

    NooseJustice Savant (445) Indiana Aug 4, 2010

    you know, reading that Twitter shit is a headache. all those @blahblah in the middle of a poorly worded sentence. fuck anyone who gets a rise out of this garbage
  27. Ri0

    Ri0 Champion (925) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012

    BB should stick to IPL's if they want to get hoppy. The IPA market is saturated enough and Lagunitas is one of the clear champions of IPA's.
  28. JrGtr

    JrGtr Savant (365) Massachusetts Apr 13, 2006

    I'm glad that Tony posted here. Great to have info directly from the source.
    I would like to head BB's side of the story, then I will make my final decision as to what to think about the matter.
  29. I assume BBC has a much larger staff and that Jim does not really concern himself in matters like this. Cheers to Tony for speaking up, but at the same time they are one of the biggest in the craft game (which at the end of the day is still a buisness). This is not like BBC targeting your favorite state only brewery. Brew the better beer(which they do IMO) and you will keep your handles, even if the bar gets a couple of free kegs.

    As cynical as this may sound we have to remember that while we are a community these are still businesses. With hundreds popping up every year there is not going to be room for everyone.
  30. I like Lagunitas, but come on. They aren't exactly some small time brewery getting muscled around by Boston Beer Co. I realize they are significantly smaller than BB Co., but they're still the 6th largest craft brewer in the US. You can't tell me that they haven't pushed smaller brewers to the side in certain markets.
    beertunes, SunDevilBeer and anyother like this.
  31. DogTown

    DogTown Savant (260) California May 17, 2006

    Hi theNightwatchman.. You said I 'can't tell you', so I have to tell you...

    We have never 'targeted' other brewers, and here's why; In January of 1995 Safeway (NorCal) brought in our Pale Ale. This was the biggest opportunity to grow in our 18-month existence. I wanted to make a small 'point of sale' tag to put on the shelf along with the six-pack. In CA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale was the only pale on the market and most people actually thought that that was the name of their brewery. I wanted to differentiate ourselves from them so people might choose. I made a little tag that said 'Lagunitas, The Other Pale Ale'. Ron Lindenbusch, my marketing weasel, coughed a little a told me that he thought that might get SNB really upset with us. I shrugged. Ron said to call them and ask, so I did.

    I spoke to a really smart and extra savvy guy there named Steve Harrison, their market guru. I described it to Steve and the why of it and he listened and calmly responded "We believe each brand should promote itself on its own merits". That was so simple and so evolved at the same time that I caught my breath and had to, after a long pause, tell him that I completely understood, which I did, and I have never forgotten those words and we've lived by them. I have principles but many of them I've learned slowly over the 20 years of doing this. That was a learning moment, and this situation is exactly that situation all over again.

    There is a lot of jostling that goes on in our turbulent industry and others tap handles have fallen to us and many of ours have fallen to others, never as a directed effort on our part, and always by very new brewers coming to the market who are learning the same lessons of civility that I learned from Steve Harrison. A mature brewer doing this is a whole other thing.

    Someday ABI will make an IPA and come after us all. I will take every opportunity now to stare down the petty tyrants in preparation for the confrontation with the biggest tyrant; itself a form of preparation for the day with the ultimate tyrant. (you'll hafta read some Carlos Castenada to know who that tyrant is...)

    Happy 2014 Eve!
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  32. azorie

    azorie Advocate (715) Florida Mar 18, 2006

    http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/35/95386/

    is what the fuss is about? geez that makes what 5000 IPA on the market now? How does a hop head pick from all that. joking, you pick blind folded of course. lol.

    One thing I say for Lag over most other brewers is the price is NICE.

    sadly most are just too hoppy for me.
    boldcity2008 likes this.
  33. azorie

    azorie Advocate (715) Florida Mar 18, 2006

    I thank you for writing that. A good read. I just hope when the reins of these biggest "good beer brewers" get handled down it does not repeat history. Public traded companies will be the first to go to profit and costs and market driven etc. You know the deal. its been debated lately (on the beer blogs & twitter). I figure a shake out is coming. note I did Not say Bubble. big guys will buy or take over the little ones. etc

    anyway nice post.

    I hope the spirit the early "craft beer" brewers had will live on..... I always say California is another country.

    Cheers!
  34. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (345) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    In order to achieve good results from a "program" like the one described by Tony I guess it helps to aim at a larger singular target such as Lagunitas IPA than to have to identify and target a bunch of smaller brands in the different local markets. I'm not a marketing guy, but I would imagine that such a focus would be helpful and effective, similar to how the bigger players try to replicate a successful product made by a competitor and then specifically target that competitor.

    The reason as to why they are doing this might come down to a few things, one of them being that BBC has grown to a size where it's more difficult to grow, and they might feel that the gloves have to come off so to speak. Parallell with this I would think that in an organization the size of BBC, the thinking becomes more similar to a larger business, with marketing people who come from large companies within or outside the beer business, that bring along with them a different mentality than the one which might pervade in a smaller company. When you can't rely on the product selling itself any longer, at least not in the volumes which are required by your size and costs of production, then there's also a greater need for marketing teams and marketing strategies, with these functions being separated from the brewing side as a specialized department, with the separation being greater as a function of size.

    It's interesting I think to consider whether we are seeing the structural or social limitations of the often idealized vision of craft brewing, or any other form of human organization. Trying to maintain that sense of community and altruism that might characterize a smaller, close knitt group of people, as it develops into a larger formal organization might prove very difficult.

    I suppose that ownership could be an important factor to consider here, and the difference between a privately owned business with a "benevolent" ruler-owner as opposed to a traded company with a board to boot.
    wolfer likes this.
  35. wow good read. thanks for sharing.
    RobertV916 likes this.
  36. BBC is a public company with common stock, I happen to own a few shares. So it was bound to happen.
  37. SierraJosh

    SierraJosh Savant (275) California Aug 13, 2013

    DogTown kills it, drops the mic, and lights a cigar...cheers!
    Travcofarms and azorie like this.
  38. DogTown

    DogTown Savant (260) California May 17, 2006

    "It's interesting I think to consider whether we are seeing the structural or social limitations of the often idealized vision of craft brewing, or any other form of human organization"

    This is the essential element that I have been circumlocuting...! This is a sea change. However, at the large scale level of this industry these things become the game, so to speak, while at the other end of the scale there are beautiful smaller brewers for whom getting caught up in these programs could spell disaster.

    Lagunitas, so far, straddles these two worlds and as long as I am holding the reins all I can say is 'I don't wanna grow up', meaning, I still want to stand for something and not just whatever comes into my field of view. Feeding on the host, the industry you come from, is parasitism. At a 12-share of an industry there can still be a lot of open field running.
  39. Crusader

    Crusader Savant (345) Sweden Feb 4, 2011

    Right, that last piece of conjecture was meant as a thinly veiled description of Lagunitas and BBC :p.
    DogTown and azorie like this.
  40. Yes I detected the sarcasm , so yea I got it. The simple fact is as nice as the balloon theory is. Its the shelf space and bar tap space. That is where the competition thing happens. The Free market and anything goes to win is the American way, and its not very pretty when exposed. You know?

    Sooner or later the all mighty dollar hunt takes over any biz, that wants to survive.
    Cynical but true.
    azorie likes this.

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