Taking Craft Back One Funny Video at a Time

Recently, the Brewers Association rolled out a new marketing campaign called “Take Craft Back” which purports to be a crowdfunding effort to buy AB InBev. While they are only $2.5 million to their $213 Billion goal, the movement is gaining steam and national attention. Here’s the video that launched the campaign:

After watching this, is there any question as to the seriousness of this venture? It’s exceedingly clear from not only the video but also the website that this is a marketing campaign meant to further the conversation about how Big Beer is buying up craft breweries which in turn creates more obfuscation in the marketplace and ultimately whittles down choice in the marketplace.  One of the best lines on their website reads, “It only seems impossible if you really think about it.” Which is funny AND true.

Let’s be clear, the Brewers Association doesn’t really expect to raise the money needed to buy a company that would be unlikely to sell even if the money was raised. Also, doing some simple math shows that we would have to raise 1 million per day for the next 583 years to reach that total. So, yeah, it’s not happening. That didn’t stop some people who didn’t watch the video, didn’t go to the website and didn’t read most articles about it from spouting off their opinions. These are from the American Home Brewer’s Facebook page in the comments of the video after it was posted:

“This still doesn’t offer anything. What does a pledge ACTUALLY do? How will you collect? What’s to say AB would ever even accept an offer or allow this to happen? Why should homebrewers be in charge of this and not breweries?”

“This is stupid and a waste of time. And if this did succeed, who is self-appointing to be the board, CEO, CFO, etc. what is the end game plan?” 

 “What in the hell? Where does the money go when they don’t get enough? Who is getting rich here?”

This guy, however, gets it:

“Society has done gone and lost its chill… This tongue in cheek campaign catches fire in a matter of hours and responses range from skeptics crunching numbers to marketing geniuses explaining how this won’t work… 
Financial geniuses: Would a limit of $1,000 pledges be put on this campaign if it was serious? 
Marketing gurus: Count the shares, count the comments, count the likes…BA is WINNING!”

People wondering about where the money is going, how it the buy-out will work etc. are missing the mark. Once again, it shows how people only read the title of a post, article or video and are more than happy to barf their outrage all over social media. It’s unclear what possesses people to comment on something they didn’t read/watch, especially when they want to bash it. In this case, if they just took a minute to go to the website, it would be extremely clear that this is a marketing campaign aimed at getting attention and bring awareness to the issue at hand. They aren’t taking credit cards for pledges, there are jokes all over the site, and the video is dripping in satire.

In the end, the “Take Craft Back” campaign is doing its job. Not only is the beer community talking about it (New Belgium, Stone both shared and posted about it) but it’s actually getting national attention in publications like the Chicago Tribune, Men’s Journal, Forbes and more. To outline how important this is to the cause, don’t look any further than a recent interview with a MillerCoors executive where he waxed poetically about the craft beer industry. Pete Marino, the head of Tenth and Blake (MillerCoors craft beer division) was interviewed about the state of craft beer. While that alone is an eye-roller, his comments were interesting in the wake of this Take Back Craft Campaign.

“It’s no longer good enough to brew an interesting beer, throw a catchy name on it, throw it on the shelf and expect it’s going to sell. So you’ve got to start thinking about awareness. You’ve got to start thinking about building and driving a brand.” 

Well then, good job, Brewers Association, because this campaign is all about building awareness. While he was speaking about bringing awareness to a specific brand, it’s not a stretch to apply this mindset to awareness on the topic of independence vs. Big Beer. When asked if he thought that the BA’s Independence label is effective he said:

“Is there some small percentage of consumers that are going to be seeking that? I’m sure. But the overwhelming majority I don’t think are going to care. They want a good beer drinking experience from brands they can identify with.”

Does this “overwhelming majority” not care because they just want a “good drinking experience” from brands that have a large marketing budget or do they not care because they don’t even know about the issue? With the help of this marketing campaign, maybe more people will become aware and start to think about which companies they support. The more info that gets out to the average drinker, the more likely they are to care about what happens in the craft beer industry. The rest of the article is rife with big beer talking points (people are tired of too many choices, branding is going to win in the end) so it’s definitely worth read. In the meantime, I pledged $1000 and got a sweet koozie out of it. Totally worth it.

 

gabf

5 Things I Learned at GABF

5 Things I learned at GABF 2017

The Great American Beer Festival was held this past weekend in Denver, filling the city with more than 60,000 people ready to celebrate the wonderful elixir that is craft beer. 800 breweries from across the country attended, pouring 3,900 beers for thirsty attendees. There were almost 8000 beers entered in the competition, in 98 style categories. With so much beer to drink in so little time, the Thorn team knew that we had our work cut out for us. Attending this year was me, Jay Jones (sales), Eric Shelley (NP head brewer) and Scott Smith (Barrio Head Brewer). While it was my first year attending the fest, the other three are seasoned veterans. Other than being an insanely fun weekend filled with craft beer, delicious food, and…other enjoyments, there are five things that I learned about GABF which make this festival bucket-list-worthy.

Denverites Are Absurdly Nice

While the city of Denver is really pretty and clean, what was most notable about the city was how incredibly nice the residents were. Now I like to think that San Diegans are nice and helpful, but we don’t hold a candle to Denverites. Not sure where you are going and looking at your iMaps to figure it out? No problem, someone will stop and ask if you need help with the directions. This happened at least 4 times. Yes, maybe we were lost more than the average bear, but the Uber app is very confusing when it comes to pick-up points! People sitting at tables beside us in the restaurant were always friendly and offering advice. The staff from the breweries, restaurants, and bars that we visited were incredibly accommodating and just friendly. And that goes for the whole city…just super friendly people all around.

So Much Beer, So Little Time

This sentiment goes not only for the actual GABF festivals but also the surrounding watering holes. There is so just much great beer. At the fest, the hall is so huge, I’m pretty sure there are parts that we didn’t even get to, even though we walked and walked around tasting beers. One ounce pours at each booth made it so you could taste more beers than a normal festival, but even then, with 3,900 beers pouring, it was nearly overwhelming. When not working the fest, we set out to experience Denver’s beer scene. We hit up Recess Beer Garden for a kick-ass food and craft brews, Star Bar for live music and more beer, Prost Brewing, Denver Brewing Co., The Source, and Trve Brewing Co. for some damn fine sours.

Awesome Volunteers

One thing that really struck me (and maybe this goes along with Denverites being nice) was that all of the volunteers working the festival were awesome. Whether they were pouring our beer and learning all they could about the brewery so they could be the best ambassadors or they were trying to keep the brewers and festival attendees safe by patrolling the stairs leaving the venue (I guess sliding down the bannister was a beloved and dangerous pastime of festival goers), they did so with humor and grace. They had so many volunteers you could always find one when you need one, and the festival organizers treated the volunteers well, making the whole event enjoyable and a real party-like atmosphere.

Shame is the Name of the Game

One of the funniest aspects of the fest was immediately apparent on the first night. I was sipping on some fine craft beer and all of a sudden I heard a huge rise in the crowd noise. Every few minutes you could hear the crowd start cheering/booing and in a venue that huge with so many thousands of people it was certainly loud. Turns out, like a lot of fests, when someone drops their taster glass the whole crowd around starts cheering and pointing. When it happens at GABF, it’s a hole other ballgame based on the sheer size of the crowd. Yes, you are getting shamed by hundreds if not thousands of people at once, but it lends to the party atmosphere of the whole event and somehow turns the embarrassment of dropping your glass into the entry to an exclusive club of slippery fingered people. Thanks to What’s on Draft for capturing the madness on video…

Brewers Are Romantics

Saturday morning was the Awards Ceremony. There is an electricity in the air as brewers file into the huge conference room, hoping to bring home one (or more) of the nearly 300 medals given out in 98 different style categories. The IPA category is always the most popular one with more than 400 entries, so in an effort to keep the hall filled with brewers until the end, they announce it last. While Thorn didn’t bring home a medal this year, lots of our San Diego beer-brethren did and we were super excited for them, cheering extra loud whenever an SD brewery pulled a medal (14 in all!). But the sweetest moment of the awards ceremony came when a brewer from Wibby Brewing, from CO, got down on one knee, on stage, after winning an award and proposed to his girlfriend. The ceremony stopped for a moment as all of the hardened, beer-soaked, brewers cheered like crazy as the two lovebirds celebrated the proposal. She said yes, thank goodness because that would have been awkward otherwise, and after a few moments, the ceremony continued.

The Proposal from WhatsOnDraft on Vimeo.

All in all, the weekend was a huge success. Coming together with brewers from all over the country was an incredible time and one that we are only just now recovering from. If you are a serious craft beer fan, I would highly recommend making the trip to at least one GABF in your lifetime, not only for the fun that can be had in Denver and GABF but also for the awesome people you will meet throughout the entire weekend.