Monday, 25 June 2018

Insert "Genus : Castor" Pun Here


Hello?  Has everything calmed down yet?  Craft beer survived despite the torrents of shelf-removed and drainpoured beer? Ok.  So, now we can get some kind of perspective on the whole "Beavertown Sold Out To Heineken" issue.  Right?

Ok then.

To the disappointed ideological Crafties, yeah, it's one less brewery to choose from.  But London alone has over 100 of the things now.  There's a beer for you right down your street at the local bottle shop or craft bar, and it won't be owned by Big Beer.  To the people saying that Beavertown was overpriced, cloudy, vegetal-tasting sludge, well, Wetherspoons awaits you.

The problem is with this kind of issue is that people take it personally.  For some reason, a lot of people have made an emotional investment in Logan Plant and his beer factory.  Despite the history of "edgy", "unique" and "game changing" ethical companies all selling out in the end.  Read the history of Green & Blacks (sold to Cadbury plc. in 2005), Innocent Smoothies (sold to Coca Cola in 2009) and Pukka Tea (sold to Unilever in 2017).  This stuff isn't new.

Had Mr. Plant told the likely story behind his brewery's founding in 2011 (as opposed to the"stories" the Beer Communicators want us to believe), would have gone something like this :

"Well, I heard Craft Beer was going to be big in the next few years.  So I got some seed funding and investors together to form a company which had targeted growth and projected market penetration in the sector, with a view to selling the company to the most suitable bidder once a certain level of turnover had been reached"

This is probably closer to the truth than the usual guff about the "Evils" of "Big Beer" we generally hear from Craft Brewers, but how would it have gone down with his brewery's intended market - young, ethically aware, anti-big capital etc?  Right.  They wouldn't have touched Beavertown beer with a 90-foot mash paddle.  They would've thought "The Led Zep dude's son is trying to rip us off, just like his dad did with Willie Dixon."

Logan Plant is a businessman.  No more, no less.  He will say or do whatever it takes, within reason and legality, at any given time to grow his company and its profits.  The fact that other people think he's betraying some kind of Craft Brotherhood by "selling out" is no fault of his.

7 comments:

  1. Shame the United Craft Brewers didn't take off, the expulsions would have been fun to watch.

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    1. People did wonder at the time why the whole "United Craft Brewers" thing didn't work out.

      But then everyone knows "why" now.

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  2. You right well, that's all I have to say on the matter.

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  3. Love the Willie Dixon reference. I've been to the blues museum which he opened at the old Chess Records building in Chicago with the cash from his out of court settlement with Led Zeppelin.

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  4. I live in East London and have never knowingly seen Beavertown on sale in any of my local pubs or had a pint of it (anywhere). Their can logos make it look like they target children.

    No-one seems to have said what percentage Heineken will have in the new company, or how much of a 'majority' Mr and Mrs Plant will keep. It would be good business practise to ensure that key staff have shares, but we probably won't know what they have got until the next Companies House filing. So it seems a bit premature to suggest that this is the end of the world.

    To me, Mr Plant s being very sensible. His growth opportunities in the over crowded UK market are restricted so to make a lot of money he needs to expand overseas, which will cost a lot. Not least, I assume that he lacks the international experience and ways to get into the subtly-tied foreign markets - hence a tie up with Heineken, who do know their way around, makes sense to get the beers to market.

    It has always been the case that some businesses are formed to enable the owner to (hopefully) enjoy a decent lifestyle whilst doing what he wants, whilst many others are formed to make money. I don't see why anyone should have a go at Mr Plant to wanting to be in the latter category.

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  5. I get that a beer drinker may prefer the fuller flavour products of independent brewers over the blander ones of international brewers and see the buy out of craft brewers as damaging the independent supply chain. Moving your custom to brewers that support your preferences is enlightened self-interest. It’s more than a product, it’s an eco-system, a supply chain. By that logic you also have to go to the independent off licence, and not Tesco.

    I don’t get how people equate that with virtue. That somehow the independent sector is more virtuous. Heineken UK follow health & safety, pay their staff above the living wage and churn out popular if bland products millions enjoy. They are not bad guys. You would not describe a factory churning out hand made cars for £200k as more virtuous than an automated car plant churning out £20k cars. You’d simply see that they were fulfilling different segments.

    If we consider eggs rather than beer. I personally cannot taste the difference between free range & caged. However, I buy free range. The price difference is to my pocket trivial and I am more comfortable with traditional farming techniques over factory farming. There is violence in all farming, but I think there is less suffering in traditional farming and I suspect the products it produces are less likely to make me ill. I have no evidence for the latter. I actually see it as virtuous, choosing the higher animal welfare. You might say veganism is a higher virtue by that logic. But I get the argument of ethics and virtue in a consumer choice.

    I don’t get it in craft beer. I don’t get where the suffering or exploitation is, in factory beer. It seems to me that those that don’t wish their own money to go to Heineken are making a choice of rational self interest and virtue has nothing to do with it. That’s okay.

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