Jim Koch Addresses Industry Giants Purchasing Craft Brewers

Editor's Note:  Reporter Peter Rowe reported on Jim Koch's presence at the 7th annual VIBE Conference. Below is our analysis of the information contained within Rowe's article.

Founder of and brewer for The Boston Beer Company, Jim Koch, was in San Diego for the 2016 VIBE Conference last week. The annual event was hosted by the Hilton San Diego Bayfront from January 19 to 20 and hosted over 200 operators from 150 of the top restaurants, hotels, casinos and cruise lines. Koch was there to receive an award from VIBE, but also to address what he sees as a startling issue: industry giants snapping up craft brewers at an alarming rate.

Two things happened last year that centered around Saint Archer, a San Diego craft brewery. First, they sold around 18,000 barrels of beer in 2015. And second, they were purchased by MillerCoors.

When the average person looks at the number 18,000 and then looks at The Boston Beer Company's 4 million barrels sold, they're likely tempted to think that Saint Archer doesn't represent even the smallest amount of competition to Koch's independent operation. When viewed through Koch's eyes, however, nothing could be further from the truth.

As Peter Rowe reported, the founder of The Boston Beer Co. had this to say about the situation:

“When Saint Archer goes to make a sales call at Vons, they are not some surfer in flip flops — any more,” Koch said. “They are part of the second largest brewery in the world. They are going to get shelf space unlike your typical 18,000-barrel brewery.”

According to Rowe's article, Koch also addressed the perceived size and power of The Boston Beer Co. versus other craft brewers and even the industry behemoths:

“We are the tallest of the pygmies,” he said. “We’re not Ballast Point showing up with Corona. Corona gives you a lot of clout, so Ballast Point has that same advantage.”

Rowe also shared the following information regarding beer and on-premise sales:

Of the American adult population, 66 percent has ordered a beer at a bar or restaurant in the last 30 days, while 54 percent have ordered wine or spirits.

Clearly, the competition between beer brewers is only getting fiercer, and the folding of craft brewer after craft brewer into the portfolios of corporations like MillerCoors and Constellation presents a very real threat to independents.

To read the original article written by Peter Rowe and published by  The San Diego Union-Tribune on January 17, 2016, please  click here.

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