The Wolf of Brew Street

Editor’s Note:
It’s been an interesting week in the world of craft beer and since the partial acquisition of Lagunitas by Heineken. Since this news broke there’s been no shortage of opinions, commentary, and borderline raging rants on the subject. Coincidentally, before the news about Lagunitas broke some of the Sommbeer contributors have already been working on a collaborative piece about big beer buying little beer and David, our founder and fearless leader, was going to be part of that collaboration. Upon reviewing this piece I felt David’s opinion on the subject at hand warranted standing alone as it’s own piece. I’d like to reiterate that this is David’s opinion and that the subject of breweries being bought and sold as craft beer expands is something that really doesn’t have a right or wrong answer to it, and surely this debate will rage on endlessly. Our collaborative piece will follow still in the next few days, until then I encourage you to read David’s opinion and add comments. Discussing this topic freely may not change the fate of Lagunitas but as a community we encourage discussion in hopes of keeping craft beer independent.

– John



From David- Founder of Sommbeer:

I don’t watch sports, I watch Wall Street.  I’m an economics and finance nerd.  As a kid I read Adam Smith’s book about free market economies.  I am a capitalist and I am delighted to see good companies grow and succeed.  When good breweries do good things they grow and when they grow really big they can become a takeover target.  I am therefore emotionally challenged when a brewery like Lagunitas or Founders sells out to a large publicly traded company.  Here’s the concern ….

IMG_2526 (2)
I stated in an earlier post just what it takes to make a World Class Brewer;
1. A world class brewery takes risks
2. Has a deep and profound respect for its customers
3. Has a “moral compass”
4. Has loads of passion
5. Makes really good beer
Can a large publicly traded corporation with a quarterly focus on profit and stake holder value do all of the above to be a world class brewer?  Yes but the hurdle is higher.  As a capitalist I value the free markets amazing ability to allocate and consolidate resources where they belong.  It’s just hard to do that and still have a soul.  This is fine for making washing machines, cars and airplanes. 
It is also true, as Rod stated, some of the takeover breweries still make great beer after the acquisition. Problem is, these are largely carry-over beers, created at a time in the breweries life when they were still led by an entrepreneur.  Question is, will a brewer with corporate constraints still have the passion and risk taking to create new wonderful beers? 
I hope they do but I know it’s a lot to ask.  The marketing teams and managers inside a large corporation are more apt to rely on the findings from a “focus group”, lest they destroy their career with that new beer style.
I dearly hope sellout breweries continue to make my favorites, but I’m placing my chips on the independents.
– David 
From NY Daily News
From NY Daily News









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One thought on “The Wolf of Brew Street”

  1. Great article! I as an employee of a recent acquired brewery also fear the carry over syndrome. We are still making our classics but we are also have two new IPAs coming fall and winter, as well as a top secret addition to the lineup in early 2016. I think the mergers can help innovations and new beers with more access and better buying power.


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