Pete Coors to the BA: You are Undermining your Credibility

FILED MAY 7, 2018

Dear Client:

In a letter from Molson Coors chairman Pete Coors to the Brewers Association board, obtained by BBD, the scion of the Coors brewing family castigates the BA for its attacks on big brewers at last week's Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville.

Recall at the general session BA chief Bob Pease and Left Hand co-founder and BA chair Eric Wallace in particular took on large brewers [see BBD 05-02-2018]. "Through clever and deceptive packaging design, omission of ownership statements on labels, intellectual property violations, denigrating, and expensive marketing campaigns, monopolistic practices choking off raw materials and distribution channels, rampant violations of trade practices and exclusionary tactics to defend their house in many markets, these guys are out to eat our collective lunch and take the kids' lunch money as well," he said.

Several blue, silver, gold, and red distributors in the crowd told BBD afterwards they took umbrage with the tone of the general session as it is those brands which keep their doors open.

Somebody who in particular took umbrage was Molson Coors chairman Pete Coors. Recall that Pete has often called for industry unity at industry confabs, including at our Beer Summit nearly ten years ago.

So he took pen to paper and wrote a response to the BA Board:

[ED. NOTE: At first I was going to include an excerpt from the letter, but ultimately decided to print it in its entirety to include its full context].

A Letter to the BA From Pete Coors:

Congratulations on the remarkable attendance at this year's Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville. The high turnout speaks to the interest and passion that brewers, suppliers, and the general public have for beer and the brewing industry.

As a paying member of the Brewers Association I enjoy my subscription to The New Brewer. It is the reason I have taken the time to write a point of view concerning the ongoing vitriol expressed in its pages and most recently reaffirmed by BA Chairman Eric Wallace and President Bob Pease toward the large, non-independent brewers.

The brewing industry is not exclusively made up of "large, multinational brewers” or "big brewers” or "faux craft brewers.” It is not exclusively made up of "mass produced” beer, craft brewers or home brewers. Rather, the beer industry is a combination of large and small brewers, retailers, distributors and suppliers who are passionate about their craft and committed to their businesses. And, they are passionate about competing for the millions of American consumers who love beer.

The leadership of the Brewers Association does a great disservice to the entire beer value chain by attempting to pit one part of the industry against another.

You must know that it is insulting to those of us who don't meet the clever criteria of your self-proclaimed definition of "craft brewer.” This approach prioritizes insults and division over unity for a beverage that has been used to unify and celebrate together for generations.

Should the highly educated and trained brewers who work for large brewers or the breweries that have been purchased by them be included in the disdain you seem to have for them? Should the quality of beers produced by them, including hundreds of quality medals be insulted by the Brewers Association simply because the parent company isn't part of your ever-changing "club?” Didn't all large brewers start as craft brewers? Don't all craft brewers wish to grow and be prosperous?

We share distributors, many of whom would not be able to distribute Brewers Association beers without the scale provided by the large brewers. You claim that your members are precluded from distribution at retail, while I visit account after account that do not carry any "big brewer” products.

Competition in our industry should be honored and cherished. I agree with you that craft brewers are "exemplars of the American Dream, of entrepreneurial spirit.” However, you must realize that big brewers are as well. There should be no room for cheap shots and insults ("faux”, "crafty”, "capitulated” beers) for each other.

That is a slippery slope that does not end well for our industry. We have enough competition inside the beer business and outside it with wine, spirits and, increasingly, marijuana.

You undermine your credibility by pitting us against one another to the ultimate detriment of the entire beer industry.

Keep your independent seal, your pride and your zeal for brewing, but let's be united as an industry. There are other enemies we all must fight together.

-Pete Coors

So there you have it. Keep the seal and your pride, but stay united. What do you think of Pete's letter? Let me know at hs@beernet.com

FOR THE MOST EXCITING TWO MINUTES IN SPORTS, IT WAS ROSE ALL DAY

If you were watching the Kentucky Derby on TV on Saturday, you couldn't help notice that Angry Orchard Rosé not only dominated the bev-alc segment as far as ads (including the bourbon sponsor Woodford Reserve), it dominated the airwaves for ALL products leading up to the race. It was truly wall-to-wall Angry Orchard Rosé all day. I expect the brand's awareness levels have grown substantially for the upscale crowd that watches the Derby.

BEER BRIEFS:

CINCO DE CHEAPO. Seeing a few hot deals out there for Cinco on Mexican beers. One observation: a lot more Sol featured alongside Corona, Modelo Especial, and Dos Equis than in previous years, obviously due to its move to MillerCoors.

The hottest deal we've seen? As usual Schnucks in Missouri and Illinois featuring all flavors of Corona 12 packs for $12.99. A few other price points for Mexican beer across the fruited plain:

-HEB selling Corona, Dos, ME and Sol 12 packs at $14.99/

-Publix Corona and ME 12 packs at $13.99.

-Ralph's in LA selling Tecate 30 packs for $15.99 (Also selling Sam Adams, Heineken, Stella 12 packs for $11.99).


Until tomorrow,

Harry, Jenn, and Jordan

"I do not want people to be agreeable, as it saves me the trouble of liking them." - Jane Austen



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