23 May 2016
An open letter to Dale Katechis & Oskar Blues Brewing:
OK, I guess I should elaborate on that even though if I just left it at that, you’d know what I was saying & why I was saying it. But since this is not the first time these subjects have come up in the industry, I’m just going to rip off the band-aid, say it out loud & let people know about the issues. First off, to brewers (whether Brewpub or Production), I fully support a Brewers right to a Tap Room. I think it is a vital part of building your brewery & its brand. Another vital part of your business if you have aspirations of growth outside your brewery’s building are Tap Handles & Bottles/Cans in the marketplace.
As the industry has evolved & grown, various breweries have come up with differing methods of financing their growth. Whether by taking on increasing amounts of traditional debt (& the perils that entails), Selling out to the Industrobrewers, Selling out to another Brewer, going public, employee ownership, or allowing Private Equity investment, choices abound. Which way is best, which way(s) is/are still “Craft”? Well we DEFINITELY know one choice, selling to the Industrobrewers, isn’t Craft. If you choose that route, congratulations on being successful, but don’t give me the “nothing’s changed” crap, yes it has, you knew it before hand, no one changed the rules mid-stream. Deal with it. The other ways in the list, I think we have to play a wait-and-see game. I think actions speak louder than Press Releases, it’s pretty much the only method we have at looking under the tent of the new entity.
In your case, some of your Brewery’s recent actions point towards a brewery that I feel ISN’T Craft & therefore I wish to have nothing to do with. In the Craft Beer Industry, it’s either you are WITH it, or you are AGAINST it, there really is no in-between. Starting this year, you have left the Colorado Brewers Guild. This leaves a large hole in the budget of an organization that has helped & fought for your ability to get to where you are today. You don’t belong to the North Carolina Brewers Guild, you informed the Texas Brewers Guild you won’t be joining their organization (the latter was the subject of a recent Austin Chronicle article). I wonder what will happen in Florida. I hear you saying it’s “Craft Buying Craft”. I’d be willing to suspend my disbelief if it weren’t for your actions. That’s not Craft. Yes, I know that not every brewery belongs to the Local and National Trade Organizations, just the ones that care about progressing the industry, want to protect it from the Industrobrewers, & want to be able to protect the small brewer’s access to market.
Another action is your announced Music Venue/Beer Hall in Downtown Denver. With 43 taps. Seriously? 4 years (almost to the day) ago you announced a “letter of intent” on a building in Boulder to open up another Home Made Liquids & Solids. We had an emotional (& very civil) discussion about my opinion on this subject`. When you want to sell your own products, I am a huge supporter, when your primary goal is to sell other people’s beers, I’m not so much in favor. That’s kinda the job for the accounts out in the marketplace. As you might have noticed, there are over 4300 breweries in the US, 300+ in Colorado alone, I have LOTS of choices, & I choose to spend my money on beers brewed by brewers that don’t actively & directly compete with me. Oh, I understand it’s ‘legal’ for you to carry other people’s beers, that doesn’t make it right, or the right thing to do for your brand. You seem to want to be considered a Brewpub when it suits you, and a Brewery when see an advantage in that. Funny, I was always under the impression that there were laws against that here in Colorado (laws designed to keep things from being taken over by the Industrobrewers), but I must be mistaken.
Your actions shout.
Have a terrific life driving your warehouse full of exotic cars.
I was your first account outside of your immediate area of Lyons. I’ve been a loyal supporter & account ever since. I feel like such a sucker.
Falling Rock Tap House