News Blue Moon's Keith Villa on FOX Small Business.

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by PDXBrewer, Dec 14, 2012.

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  1. PDXBrewer

    PDXBrewer Initiate (0) Feb 16, 2009 Washington

    Normally I would think this is weird, but hey, it's FOX. Oh, and Keith has a PhD.

    Blue Moon founder on the ‘craft’ behind craft brewing
    Brew Master Keith Villa on the newest twists he and the Blue Moon Brewing Company are ‘brewing’ up
  2. ericj551

    ericj551 Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2004 Alberta (Canada)

    Interesting story, I just don't see where the "small business" part comes in.
  3. ericj551

    ericj551 Initiate (0) Apr 29, 2004 Alberta (Canada)

    Also, good to know who to blame for every wit I've ever been served with an orange wedge.
    nickapalooza86 and Jason like this.
  4. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,019) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Beer Trader

    The Brewers Association just got trolled...
  5. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    It started in 1995 in small, what look to be about 7 bbl batches, at the Sandlot at Coors Field. Unique beers are still brewed and served there, i guess you can't exactly consider it small business considering the parent company, but it definitely is small time pub brewing.

    A little history and some pictures of where Blue Moon got it's start...
  6. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,019) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Beer Trader

    Were they owned by Coors back then?
  7. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (740) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    The "Founder of Blue Moon Brewing Company" line is a prime example of why the Brewers Association started their craft/crafty shitstorm yesterday. Mr. Villa did eventually mention that Blue Moon was a division of Coors, but even then the interview made it seem like he built this little brewery from the ground up.
    yemenmocha likes this.
  8. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    Ya, in the video he said it started small, but it was still owned and financially backed by MillerCoors.
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,493) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    There is no doubt that Keith Villa is a well-spoken individual.

    I had a couple of links to videos of Keith Villa conducting interviews with morning news shows in Milwaukee and Chicago when they were test marketing Batch 19. He brought an old log book from Coors’ Pre-Prohibition days and he strongly intimated that Batch 19 was brewed as per the log book recipe. I have since come to find out that Batch 19 may have been based upon the old logbook recipe but Keith took quite a bit of ‘artistic license’ in the brewing of Batch 19.

    I am starting the think that Keith Villa is more of a marketer and less of a brewer; a sad thought.

    To read more about the Batch 19 brewing ‘process’ on page three of this thread:

    Part 1:

    Well, thanks to Crusader for finding another article concerning Batch 19 (the Washington Post article).

    When Batch 19 first came out a few years ago, Keith Villa conducted an advertising tour to promote the beer. They first test marketed the beer in 5 cities (Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and San Jose). I watched a couple of TV show interviews (local morning news shows) where Keith Villa was interviewed by the TV show hosts (plus he provided samples of the beer). The big shtick was the old logbook; he brought it with him to the interviews and would open it up to show the recipes. He would discuss the ingredients used to make Batch 19 but not once made mention of adjuncts (whether it be rice or corn). He would mention the Colorado spring water, malt, yeast and hops. He would then discuss the two hops of Hersbrucker and Strisslespalt but made no mention of the other hops utilized. I have links to two video interviews that were hosted on youtube but they are no longer active.

    So, why does Keith Villa not discuss the use of adjuncts in these video interviews (plus a number of other written interviews)? My guess is that he does this for a ‘poor’ marketing reason. Why do I say ‘poor’? Well, because today (2012) the use of adjuncts is looked down upon by craft beer drinkers. In the US before Prohibition there was no prejudice concerning the use of adjuncts. From my perspective Keith Villa could have used the brewing and marketing of Batch 19 to educate beer drinkers. The problem with adjuncts in modern day American Adjunct Lagers is not so much that adjuncts are used but how they are used. Modern day AAL beers use too much adjunct (something like 40+ % of the grain bill). Also, the type of adjunct used can influence the flavors of the beer. Rice contributes very little flavor but corn (if used properly) can provide a subtle but pleasant sweet graininess flavor. So, if you brew a CAP with 80% 6-row barley (the traditional barley used in US breweries before Prohibition and after Prohibition) and 20% corn you get tasty beer (plus generous use of hops).

    I used to have a high opinion of Keith Villa (and Coors) for producing and marketing Batch 19 but now I am re-thinking my opinion. Let’s discuss the ingredient selection of Batch 19:

    Grain Selection

    As regards malted barley, the logbook mentioned Chevalier” malt which is no longer grown. So, Keith had to make a selection of malted barley from what is available today. The logical choice, from a historical perspective, would be American 6-row barley. So, what did Keith choose: “I used the Moravian malt that we have, the Coors strain. We have a barley breeding program up in Idaho; they improve it every year. Then I put just a tiny bit of European cara-malt.” WTF!?! Why would he select a Moravian malt (which is grown in Idaho no less) and a crystal malt (cara-malt)!?! This makes no sense!

    As regards the use of adjuncts, did he use them or didn’t he use them? He doesn’t mention this whatsoever in his interview with Lew Bryson (I have met and spoken with Lew Bryson; he is an extremely knowledgeable beer guy/writer). It appears that corn grits were used via the Washington Post interview. Now, if I was going to be pedantic I would ‘complain’ that he didn’t brew per the logbook (which apparently listed rice) but I am of the opinion that corn is a superior adjunct if utilized properly. I have no idea how the corn was used in Batch 19; I personally cannot perceive any sweet graininess in the beer.

    Hop Selection

    Apparently the logbook listed just Domestic and Imported hops. The Domestic hops of that day were Cluster hops. Why were no Cluster hops used in making Batch 19? The aforementioned hops of Hersbrucker and Strisslespalt are indeed imported (European Hops). I very much doubt that Strisslespalt was imported to the US prior to Prohibition. The commonly mentioned imported hops of that era from the book 100 Years of Brewing: “imported hops the best of the latter being Bohemian Saazer,” then Bavarian “Spalter,” and then “Holleetan” (Hallertauer?). Other hops that were imported include English Fuggles and Styrian Goldings, which are Fuggles grown in Yugoslavia.” So, Saaz and Hallertauer would seem to be more appropriate hops for authenticity reasons. In another interview Keith mentioned: ”I stuck in a little bit of Cascade to round out the fruitiness. There’s a little Mt. Hood, and some Hallertauer Select.” Why would you utilize Cascade hops (even in small quantities) in a Pre-Prohibition Lager!?! Cascade was only released in 1972 and it has a strong citrus taste which is totally inappropriate for a historical lager.

    stitches58, jasonmason and JimKal like this.
  10. jRocco2021

    jRocco2021 Disciple (351) Mar 13, 2010 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    To me this makes it sound like Coors recruited a smart student to send off to get a brewing PhD in Belgium so they could have a craft brewer in house to build a "craft beer brand" behind. I'm not saying that that's what happened but it sorta comes off that way.
    Kyrojack likes this.
  11. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,019) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Beer Trader

    Then they were never small to begin with... Very good timing on their part, the day after the Brewers Association tried to make some noise.
    Providence likes this.
  12. frazbri

    frazbri Crusader (740) Oct 29, 2003 Ohio

    One thing I must give Coors credit for is not pulling the plug on this little project before it gained sales
    They either did that or Mr. Villa pitched that idea to them with the Sand Lot. (that's where it would have been nice to hear some real hardball questions) Still, I have to give Coors credit for not chopping the project when it wasn't an overnight sensation. AB in that time frame would have tossed it out and thrown some other shiite against the wall to see if it would stick.
    jRocco2021 likes this.
  13. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,019) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Beer Trader

    Admitting that a garnish elevated the brand is pretty sad ... he did not invent the garnish either. German Wheat beers with the lemon, Corona with the lime. Next interview he might say he invented the internet.

    FWIW Piere Celis was rockin it in the US with Celis White in the early 1990's ... I believe they were brewing around 20,000bbls a year in their hay day. Shame shareholders sold to Miller and then Miller ended up killing off the brand.
  14. flayedandskinned

    flayedandskinned Initiate (0) Jan 1, 2011 California
    Beer Trader

    Only Fox News would consider them 'small' business.
  15. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    I enjoyed the Michigan version of Celis White until they went under.
  16. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    So how do we stop the big guys from taking everything over and telling me what I can and Can Not drink? I had a few of the new blue moon "fruit/wheat" beers the other day... tasted like complete and total shit, real wine cooler stuff... told a friend of mine who works for MillerCoors, he said "you just dont know fruit beers then, those beers win awards." Is this gonna stop anytime soon or will I eventually be told "nah man, triple hops brewed is way better than that other unfiltered stuff, thats why we protect you from buying it." A bit of a stretch, I know, but still... wouldn't surprise me.
    chinabeergeek and davey101 like this.
  17. davey101

    davey101 Meyvn (1,080) Apr 14, 2009 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Blue Moon, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada, New Belgium....a great big 'ol fraternity of beer buddies. Wow. The spiel about the PHD, oy. Smells like oak barrel?

    Hes a talker. I'll give him that.
    kojevergas likes this.
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,493) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    Question: How do you know when a marketing person is lying to you?

    Answer: Their lips are moving!:wink:

    jasonmason likes this.
  19. Andwoo

    Andwoo Initiate (0) Sep 21, 2010 Texas

    Almost tossed my laptop across the room while watching that.

    First off, working for a company who's net sales are $1.75 billion isn't exactly "starting with nothing". MillerCoors has some of the best buying power on raw materials in the country. They get 'em real cheap. They also have extreme access to market and focus from their distributors because they leverage marketing dollars from Coors Light to force them into growing Blue Moon. They essentially face NONE of the problems growing their brands that true craft does. Blue Moon is a button they push in between batches of Coors Light in Golden. It's not coming from the "Sandlot Brewery". (Side note: nobody in Denver actually GOES to Sandlot. It's a pit-stop during Rockies games. It's a front for their spiel.)

    I honestly think Keith is just a beer nerd at heart and has talking points that he's paid to stick to, but I hate knowing that his bosses on the top floor of MillerCoors are laughing at how high of a margin they're making on Blue Moon and how easy it's been to decieve the market.

    And, no, he's not in the same fraternity. Keith's the dude fake laughing to CEO golf jokes at the party while the crusty craft dudes smoke a J in the alley.
  20. yamar68

    yamar68 Initiate (0) Apr 1, 2011 Minnesota

    How much did MillerCoors have to fork out for this gem to get aired?
    LostTraveler likes this.
  21. Lutter

    Lutter Initiate (0) Jun 30, 2010 Texas

    They probably just told them they'd stop buying ad spots. :slight_smile:
    stitches58 and chinabeergeek like this.
  22. Jason

    Jason Founder (8,019) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Beer Trader

    Either they paid for the time, even indirectly, or the producer bought into the BS ... so many other true small businesses that could have been covered.
    nickapalooza86 likes this.
  23. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,270) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

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  24. Kyrojack

    Kyrojack Disciple (335) Oct 9, 2012 Indiana
    Beer Trader

    I would have to agree with jesskidden. She didn't come close to answering the host's question on Leinenkugel. Seemed to make her lose credibility.

    I also love that comment on "equal time". 9 vs 5 minutes. What a joke!
    larryi86 likes this.
  25. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,270) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Why couldn't she just say:

    "No, the Leinenkugel beers are not just Miller Lite with a different label. The beers are brewed using their own unique recipes, primarily in their original brewery* which is still run by the founding family, but it is a wholly-owned subsididary of MillerCoors. As such, we don't consider them a 'craft brewer'."

    Ditto for that Genesee Cream Ale mention at the end.

    * I guess some are brewed in MC facilities now, too? And of course, that old "Val Blatz" brewery Heileman built in the '80's, that Miller and Leinenkugel bought in the '90's.​

    I think Julia was happy she didn't have to go on for 4 more minutes...
    Kyrojack likes this.
  26. nickapalooza86

    nickapalooza86 Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2010 Wisconsin

    Wow they should have got someone who has even the smallest knowledge about beer for that interview.... That guy made it hard and uncomfortable to watch.
  27. ChefBergo

    ChefBergo Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2011 Illinois

    Only Fox could run a special on "Small Business" and count a division of MillerCoors as such. I think their next guest will be from google, they started small right?:astonished:
  28. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,496) Aug 23, 1996 California

    For their sake, the biggest mistake the Brewers Association made is failing to define what "craft beer" is; personally, I'm glad they didn't. In the segment Julia clarifies that they're not defining what craft beer is (just what a craft brewer isn't), that they're allowing the consumer to decide that, however she makes the mistake at the end of actually saying the Genny Cream Ale isn't a craft beer vs. saying that it's a brand that's not owned by a craft brewer.

    This is what happens when you take a flawed definition/concept to the masses; you get a very inconsistent message and a lot of questions.

    So while Blue Moon might not be a craft brewer (according to the Brewers Association only), their beers could very well be craft ... because the Brewers Association said they're leaving that up to me.
    gcamparone likes this.
  29. nickapalooza86

    nickapalooza86 Initiate (0) Feb 23, 2010 Wisconsin

    The Blue Moon man was way to pretentious... Construction workers and auto workers drink the premium light brands. Well I own a Landscape company with my brother and dad and we are a very small buisness with just the three of us, my brother and I drink nothing but craft I guess I will let him know we should switch to a premium light brand.
    Kyrojack likes this.
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