Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why a Beer Tour Guide Won't Purchase 10 Barrel or Full Sail

Today I'm pleased to share with you a post from guest blogger Alex Stanuch.

Since November of 2014, the blogs, beer sites and overall internet has bombarded the educated consumer of beer with countless updates of AB-InBev purchasing our "craft" breweries. You can easily find 73291 opinions on what that new trend in selling out means to the quality, economics and future of our craft beer industry. The abundance and current trend of these articles sure are annoying. But with each opinion posted, I learn new information that has helped me to form my own unique view and carryout my actions accordingly.

I am posting not only to annoy you, but to indicate why as a beer guide in Portland, OR, I will cringe when I am forced to bring customers to the new 10 Barrel location in downtown Portland. This can also serve as a passive-aggressive indication to my employer that I will most likely repeat phrases such as, "After Deschutes Brewery, we will visit AB-InBev's 10 Barrel location" or "With every purchase at this "Oregon Brewery," you have no idea how much of your money stays local. Please buy some t-shirts." The trend of some companies selling out was inevitable. Yet, as a consumer I can attempt to buck the trend and support Made-In-Oregon, not Sold-In-Oregon.

The main reason that I shit on breweries owned by big business is that I am worried about who is profiting from craft beer. For example I visited a local dive bar recently. One of the kinds that has Coors, Budweiser and Shock Top on tap, which is totally fine! I have no problem with this because on their tap list of 12, there are usually eight or nine beers from breweries in CA, OR and WA in which you can look up the owners' names and send them an email. While I pondered my choice I observed a beer option from Red Hook, 10 Barrel, Elysian, Deschutes, Rogue, two from Widmer and two from Full Sail. If you are aware of the recent employee approved transfer of Full Sail to the Oregon Craft Brewers Co. (owned by the San Francisco based equity firm Encore Consumer Capital) and that Red Hook and Widmer are part of the Craft Brew Alliance (owned roughly 32.2% by AB-InBev) then the list of beers available looked kind of like this: one MillerCoors, one AB-InBev, two Encore Consumer Capital, one Rogue and one Deschutes. So of the 12 beers available, only two are exclusively owned by non-corporations... I shit myself right then and there.
My soiled pants were due to one simple notion… "If this is what a beer selection looks like in downtown Portland, what will be available in every other bar in the United States?" Because let's admit it, this tap selection is much greater in diversity and quality than the bars back in my beloved Rochester, NY! There are two available "Shit beers" (Coors and Bud), one mom-loving "macro-craft" beer (Shock Top) and nine "craft" beers. This made me realize that all the beers from Oregon and Washington that will find their ways to the rest of the US and even the world, will not be owned by Oregon and Washington companies. And since the craft beer craze is hitting the rest of America, the beers to pioneer the way will be IPAs from 10 Barrel, sessions from Full Sail and specialty beers from Elysian. THAT my friends is why I will refuse to purchase these brands any longer regardless of preserved quality. And when Encore Consumer Capital flips Full Sail to AB-InBev or MillerCoors in a few years, we can say we saw it coming. God Bless corporate America and may the people bless the business next door.

Guest post from Alex Staunch, casual blogger and enthusiast of all things beer. Alex is a beer tour guide in the Portland area and is interested in foraging for beer ingredients in the plentiful Pacific Northwest.


  1. OMG come visit us in Iowa. The two bars in my town with 50+ beers on tap compete for educated dollars but one of them still has the usual macros on tap.

    At all the rest you're not going to find anything more adventurous than blue moon and shock top. Peace Tree's Blonde Fatale can be found at some of the places with a trendier vibe (read: expensive/upscale) and our few local breweries manage to get on tap at a few of the nicer places but they're fighting each other for one tap amongst a rail dominated by macro swill. Even at my favorite place with 66 on tap, I still often hear someone ordering a tallboy of budlight because, apparently, not one of the 66 different beers on tap can quench their need for piss-tasting and looking water. They refuse to put a big domestic on tap but, even as the best local beer-bar, literally in 150 miles, they still make equal money pushing cans and bottles because it's Iowa and they'll call you a fag for smelling your beer. Flippin neadertals.

    1. Jeff, while I didn't pen this piece I'm in complete agreement with Alex. In addition, I'm from Iowa - where are you located? With my parents still living there I make periodic trips back and while the beer scene isn't as advanced as it is here in Portland it is coming along. There are a ton of new breweries popping up as well (Toppling Goliath springs to mind with their outstanding Light Speed IPA) as Surly's recent expansion into the state. I know it's tough but progress is being made.