Pete Coors to the Brewers Association: "You Are Undermining Your Credibility"

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, May 7, 2018.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,621) Aug 23, 1996 California

    Read more from Beer Business Daily:

    And here's the letter to the Brewers Association from Pete Coors:

    Congratulations on the remarkable attendance at this year's Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville. The high turnout speaks to the interest and passion that brewers, suppliers, and the general public have for beer and the brewing industry.

    As a paying member of the Brewers Association I enjoy my subscription to The New Brewer. It is the reason I have taken the time to write a point of view concerning the ongoing vitriol expressed in its pages and most recently reaffirmed by BA Chairman Eric Wallace and President Bob Pease toward the large, non-independent brewers.

    The brewing industry is not exclusively made up of "large, multinational brewers” or "big brewers” or "faux craft brewers.” It is not exclusively made up of "mass produced” beer, craft brewers or home brewers. Rather, the beer industry is a combination of large and small brewers, retailers, distributors and suppliers who are passionate about their craft and committed to their businesses. And, they are passionate about competing for the millions of American consumers who love beer.

    The leadership of the Brewers Association does a great disservice to the entire beer value chain by attempting to pit one part of the industry against another.

    You must know that it is insulting to those of us who don't meet the clever criteria of your self-proclaimed definition of "craft brewer.” This approach prioritizes insults and division over unity for a beverage that has been used to unify and celebrate together for generations.

    Should the highly educated and trained brewers who work for large brewers or the breweries that have been purchased by them be included in the disdain you seem to have for them? Should the quality of beers produced by them, including hundreds of quality medals be insulted by the Brewers Association simply because the parent company isn't part of your ever-changing "club?” Didn't all large brewers start as craft brewers? Don't all craft brewers wish to grow and be prosperous?

    We share distributors, many of whom would not be able to distribute Brewers Association beers without the scale provided by the large brewers. You claim that your members are precluded from distribution at retail, while I visit account after account that do not carry any "big brewer” products.

    Competition in our industry should be honored and cherished. I agree with you that craft brewers are "exemplars of the American Dream, of entrepreneurial spirit.” However, you must realize that big brewers are as well. There should be no room for cheap shots and insults ("faux”, "crafty”, "capitulated” beers) for each other.

    That is a slippery slope that does not end well for our industry. We have enough competition inside the beer business and outside it with wine, spirits and, increasingly, marijuana.

    You undermine your credibility by pitting us against one another to the ultimate detriment of the entire beer industry.

    Keep your independent seal, your pride and your zeal for brewing, but let's be united as an industry. There are other enemies we all must fight together.

    -Pete Coors

  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,760) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    From the Pete Coors letter: “As a paying member of the Brewers Association…”

    I have commented in past BA threads about how I do not understand why the BA seems to ‘single out’ the breweries that they classify as being non-craft, yet willingly accept their membership dues, with differing treatment/attitude.

    A trade organization that accepts money from their members should properly represent their interests.

    If the Brewers Association wants to shit all over those breweries they classify as being non-craft breweries then they really should not accept their money. Otherwise treat all of your members (who pay you money) with respect.

    Cheers to Pete Coors for crafting this letter!!!!!!
  3. DrewSnyc667

    DrewSnyc667 Devotee (486) Jul 25, 2011 Massachusetts

    100% with Pete Coors here and I’m tired of Craft Brewers holier than thou attitude towards beer.
  4. warrendietrich2001

    warrendietrich2001 Defender (612) Feb 13, 2013 Nevada

    I appreciate this point of view. I don't buy his beers but respect that he is in the beer industry and should not be singled or made to feel unwelcomed in a organization that he pays dues to.

    I work for a small auto insurance company that has to compete with companies like Geico, State Farm and Progressive. Not a day goes by that I don't wish I had the money behind me that the large companies do. I may be bitter that they have more money for advertising and better technology etc but at the end of the day we do the same job. But as I am fond of saying "Don't hate the player hate the game".
    stevesbeer, b-mc-g, cjgiant and 8 others like this.
  5. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,168) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Premium Trader

    How much does big beer support the Brewer's Association? Is Pete's membership a minimal personal amount to cover the magazine and get into events, or is it a substantial outlay for a Molson Coors membership? Just wondering if there is any valid expectation of fair treatment for their money. He does make some valid points - if you assume that big-beer is playing fair also. Which it isn't. Can you say Key Stone?
  6. IceAce

    IceAce Savant (905) Jan 8, 2004 California

    Many of Pete’s points valid.

    * All of the big brewers were ‘micro’ as they began to make beer.

    * Most, if not all of today’s legacy brewers have piggybacked on the distribution system built by the Big Three (Stone is the biggest exception)

    * Brewers with the big guys take just as much pride in their beer as every other brewer...including Craft & Homebrewers

    * Spirits, Wine and Marijuana all pose significant threats to the industry as a whole

    * As Craft beer begins to see declines in sales velocity, some of the camaraderie between craft brewers will begin evaporate. While the entire beer pie continues to slowly grow, the number of brewers competing for their piece of that pie has drastically outpaced the rate of growth

    The future of beer as a whole is still bright, but a unified front against competition (both old and new) would help to move the entire industry forward.
    cavedave, drtth, ssimpson89 and 10 others like this.
  7. bilbobrewer

    bilbobrewer Aspirant (252) Jul 16, 2014 Oregon

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary (aka his financial security) depends upon his not understanding it.
    -----Upton Sinclair
    Ozzylizard, Scrapss, eppie82 and 10 others like this.
  8. raynmoon

    raynmoon Crusader (782) Aug 13, 2011 Colorado

    People actually work at these large breweries us "craft folk" always poke fun at?! Shit ...
    alucard6679, Junior, FBarber and 2 others like this.
  9. peteboiler

    peteboiler Initiate (137) Dec 16, 2010 Florida

    I think Mr. Coors crafted a very intelligent and thought-provoking letter. He was mature and didn't bash anyone or call any out. I took it as a 'let's make peace' offering. Whether or not it does any good remains to be seen, but HUGE kudos to Mr. Coors.
  10. Lahey

    Lahey Disciple (386) Nov 12, 2016 Michigan

    This is where he lost me. Other than the occasional brewpub, I haven't seen any place that turns away all big brewer products. Hell, those brewpubs usually at least carry bud light bottles. I've not yet seen one store that carries craft beer but not AALs. Not to say his whole point is moot, but this was a bit of a strawman in attempt to show how they're "facing struggles too".
    ssam, stevesbeer, b-mc-g and 5 others like this.
  11. surfcaster

    surfcaster Crusader (749) Apr 20, 2013 North Carolina
    Premium Trader

    He makes great points and hard to refute any bit of it.

    The Brewers Association fancies itself an exclusive club that is happy to treat its members differently. Change rules for some, speak ill of others. They will soon lose their relevance if they continue in this path.
    JMN44, JohnnyU6, LuskusDelph and 7 others like this.
  12. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,753) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    I think I will grab that case of Keystone Light, after all.
  13. BirdsandHops

    BirdsandHops Poo-Bah (2,329) Apr 14, 2008 North Carolina

    While on the surface he makes several solid points and I'm not necessary a huge supporter of the Brewers' Association and all of their arbitrary rules, the cynical side of me thinks of this more as more of an attempt to try to regain some sympathy with the somewhat decreasing market shares (despite still profiting off of a huge percentage of the total market). Whenever a group has a strangle-hold on power (whether it be market, socioeconomic, etc.) has its power questioned or faces demands for equality/justice, it will then paint itself as the true victim of oppression. Just look at current political climates in the States and across much of Europe. I don't blame individual workers at macro-owned facilities for the decisions of their higher ups any more than I blame the Wal-Mart greeter for their company's business practices. That being said, I can still choose not to spend my money at businesses whose practices I disagree with even though the common workers have nothing to do with those decisions.

    I know several stores that won't carry any of the mass market stuff, but most will still sell stuff from BMC-owned breweries like Goose Island, Elysian, Wicked Weed, etc. Those are still a small minority of all places that sell beer, though.
  14. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (872) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    For a magnate to seem to be comfortably positioned and working all sides of the market is smart politics. I grew up in and retired from the business. The underside of the big beer business is a powerful force that has as many faces as employees. I have no illusions about big beer and flailing craft warriors. There are smart people and fools everywhere. I mind my business, make my choices, and have my long beer memory. I just remember some really dodgy stuff, and having been tossed out of the Coors brewery in about 1974 for having long hair and being told my very clean jeans were not very clean It is something that is permanently pressed in my experience. We were not intimidated by the goons. They were laughed at by a large group and looked just like the fools that they were.
    emerge077, cjgiant, bret717 and 5 others like this.
  15. Lahey

    Lahey Disciple (386) Nov 12, 2016 Michigan

    This is a point I had in my mind but couldn't find the words, well put.
    DoIa, eppie82, cronimi and 5 others like this.
  16. SCW

    SCW Poo-Bah (1,692) Jul 25, 2004 New York
    Premium Industry

    I think a lot of people in the industry will agree with his points, but airing out dirty laundry in public via a letter/press release is not the way to do it. Perhaps that wasn't the intent here and this letter was just posted/circulated without consent.

    IMHO we don't need to further publicly document a fractured industry - this is a conversation that should be driven to consensus and resolution without further infighting. Big brewers and small brewers both make obvious and significant contributions to this industry - its time to make a unified statement about that.
  17. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,168) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota
    Premium Trader

    You must mean

  18. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (872) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Exactly. I've spent 40 years working better and better beers into our culture. I love where we are now. We were disappointed to not get Stone here some years back. I like what's happened since, way better than I could have dreamed.. The perpetual loss of market share makes the big guys anxious. It's just business. Stockholders are historically less forgiving and sometimes fickle. Bidness....
    cavedave, surfcaster and Junior like this.
  19. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Poo-Bah (1,515) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
    Premium Trader

    I've never really understood the hate. Everyone starts out small, right? At which point do we start to hate? Is Sierra Nevada big enough to hate yet? Just drink what you like. And, if your shop at Walmart or Home Depot or Amazon, a lot of the arguments behind the big-beer hate disappear.
  20. FBarber

    FBarber Poo-Bah (2,504) Mar 5, 2016 Illinois
    Premium Trader

    Im pretty sure he is referring to the proliferation of craft beer stores (See Craft Beer Cellar and like places) that only offer craft or imports and no BMC. Also, I know of plenty of craft beer bars that don't offer any BMC but will have on their menu stuff like - "If you like Budweiser, try X or, if you like Stella, try Y".
    Lahey, Dragginballs76 and beertunes like this.
  21. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Poo-Bah (1,515) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
    Premium Trader

    Respectfully, I don't know how private this fight is. It seems to take center stage in a lot of forums. I'm not familiar with the publication Mr. Coors is referencing, but it is certainly played out regularly on this and other sites. Is this not a case of the Big Guy standing up for himself publicly after being beat up for a long time? I'm not commenting on their business practices, simply their defense of their portion of the industry.
  22. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (872) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I know what you mean. But, at some point I hope that you have the opportunity to visit Sierra Nevada's Mill's River facility. It is enlightening, a permanent place on The French Broad River. This is a very special type of development that really does arise from private (and often) smaller enterprise that stand out and are landmarks to cherish.
    bret717, surfcaster, craigo19 and 3 others like this.
  23. SCW

    SCW Poo-Bah (1,692) Jul 25, 2004 New York
    Premium Industry

    Good insight, but my point is the forum conversation is largely driven by consumers, and not industry owners themselves. There's a lot of industry infighting in the news these days (beyond this letter) and too much of it will actually start to annoy and repel customers, thus defeating the purpose. IMHO
    drtth, IPAExpert69, Ranbot and 3 others like this.
  24. Todd

    Todd Founder (5,621) Aug 23, 1996 California

  25. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Poo-Bah (1,515) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
    Premium Trader

    I think I can validate your point with my personal annoyance at the "Big vs Independent" discussion. Thanks for the insight. As always, you provide a unique perspective.
  26. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,753) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    Grab a case of Stones, man.
    bbtkd likes this.
  27. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,760) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Shane, did you read the public letter written by Nikos Ridge?
    With this petty letter from Nikos I certainly agree with your point here.

    drtth, surfcaster, PatrickCT and 6 others like this.
  28. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (872) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Industry owners do not have the final line or say in any argument propelled around here. There are a great number of industry insiders paying attention to these conversations that have lots to cogitate if not contribute to regularly. I'm beginning to think this is really what "new local" is all about.
  29. Sweatshirt

    Sweatshirt Disciple (324) Jan 27, 2014 New Hampshire

    He's not wrong. The BA has and will continue to turn off craft Brewers as well.
  30. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,753) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    Nikos Ridge could do better than to reference Reuters, Seattle Weekly and Priceonomics.
  31. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,760) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Nikos was interested in flinging poop. Those sources were sufficient for his cause.

  32. Junior

    Junior Disciple (343) May 23, 2015 Michigan

    I don’t hate big beer or Walmart. I just choose not to support them.
  33. PatrickCT

    PatrickCT Poo-Bah (1,753) Feb 18, 2015 Connecticut

    That was my point, mostly. He and those specific sources share a certain viewpoint, I am sure.
  34. jvgoor3786

    jvgoor3786 Poo-Bah (1,515) May 28, 2015 Arkansas
    Premium Trader

    That's fair. At least you're consistent. I have no issue with that.
  35. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,011) May 13, 2011 North Carolina

    Hallelujah. I couldn't believe it when I saw all the posts in this thread sharing enthusiasm with Pete Coors's statement. This became an "us against them" situation long before the Brewer's Association did anything to promote the idea and big beer is largely responsible for that fight. If that weren't the case, there wouldn't be any buyouts because no one would feel threatened since "competition in our industry should be honored and cherished." Give me a break
  36. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,056) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    I can remember when Coors was a small regional brewer. When I first became aware of the cachet of Coors, they were probably smaller than Sierra Nevada is now.
  37. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,682) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    I didn't see Nikos' letter as "flinging poop", I saw it as realistic responses to the points PC brought up.
  38. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,425) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Premium Trader

    It is pretty obvious to me that big beer is feeling a little threatened if they are now lashing out about being mistreated.

    "You must know that it is insulting to those of us who don't meet the clever criteria of your self-proclaimed definition of "craft brewer.” PC

    So when big beer uses its size, power, and leverage to close down its competition or make them irrelevant that is being part of one big family. LOL Mr. Coors please, you insult us beer consumers with your double talk, you want everyone to be friends but only when it benefits your market share.
    Cheers to Craft....

    I would love to ask Mr. Coors how much time and effort he has given to opening doors for the little guys in all the sporting venues, concerts, and other major outlets he has exclusive rights to with his other beer elites. Since he is singing the family tune I would like to know Mr. Coors. Or is this just about how your bottom line?
    #38 AZBeerDude72, May 8, 2018
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
  39. Brewday

    Brewday Initiate (121) Dec 25, 2015 New York

    He's just venting because his stocks are down $10.
    jmdrpi likes this.
  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,362) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    According to the Brewers Association membership page, all 7 of MillerCoors' US-based big breweries pay dues as Associate Members. (I assume their "captured" former craft breweries do, too, but I only checked Terrapin). Dues for "large" breweries works out to be $15k/yr.

    AB also pays dues for each of their 12 US "macro" breweries.

    Coors became a million barrel brewer in 1955, so at a time when the total US beer market was around 85 million bbl., as opposed to the 200 million bbl. of today (170m domestically brewed).

    By comparison, Schlitz and AB, then the #1 and 2 brewer in the US, respectively, brewed between 5.6 and 5.8m bbl/yr in '55.
    #40 jesskidden, May 8, 2018
    Last edited: May 8, 2018