I figured the title “BEER” might attract some attention. I was reading the Washington Beer Blog today and came across the name of a guy I graduated high school with. Why was I reading the Washington Beer Blog? Good question.
Anyway, the guy’s name is Dick Cantwell. He and I graduated high school together. At the same school. In the same year, just to clarify. He wound up out in Washington state, brewing beer. He and two other guys started Elysian Brewing, a craft brewery that rode the craft brewery popularity wave and indeed, became very popular. There are shining reviews of their beers and ales, they opened four pubs in the Seattle area, and their beer can be found across the Northwest. Here is a link to their website. So the Washington Beer Blog ran a story about Elysian Brewing selling to Anheuser-Busch. Yes, the very same Anheuser-Busch that’s owned by InBev, the worlds largest beverage producer/distributor. My classmate, Dick, it turns out was the only dissenting voice in the sale talks. It seems he didn’t want to sell to the beverage giant. he wanted to keep his craft brewery, well, craft. That’s what a craft brewery is after all. A small scale brewery that “crafts” it’s own beers, has a niche market, and attracts a certain type of customer. And this week, Dick resigned from Elysian/Anheuser-Busch.
And the problem, at least for me, is that big, (monster big) business strikes again. Anheuser-Busch roams the country, indeed the world, looking for competition to their “beer.” They then offer a lot of money to buy them out and suddenly the competition’s profits are now Anheuser-Busch’s profits. Amazing how it works when you have millions to spend. AB, may leave the small craft breweries it buys alone, and then again, they may not. If you, as a craft brewery owner want to sell out the the big guys, well it’s your party after all. Personally, I’m glad Dick didn’t want to sell. There are no more Mom and Pop grocery stores. The last one in my town closed because it was too expensive to keep operating. Too much competition with Wal-Mart. This should be important to people. The small businesses are losing out. The giants, with their millions are buying up the small crafters, the small pubs, stores, whatever. Even farming has gone corporate. Once upon a time, small business was the way things were. It’s how business was done. Everybody new the family that owned the hardware store. The guy at the drug store knew your name. And I think, at least I hope that Dick understands that, and that’s why he didn’t want to sell. I want him to be the small business crusader, The guy who comes swooshing down from the sky with his cape flowing in the breeze and says, “Stop, Anheuser-Busch! we don’t need you here. We’re doing fine, all by ourselves!”
This is my own little fantasy, and I can have it if I want. Maybe it’s nostalgia, I don’t know. It just seems to me that some guys could start a business, and happily run it and make a good living off it and that could be good enough. That could be good enough, you know? You don’t have to jump on the money train. A comfortable living could be good enough. Right? Anyway, here’s a link to the story, and I’m just going to be disgusted for a while. Here’s to you Dick. I raise my glass of beer to all the small business owners out there struggling to make ends meet, and if you’re making a comfortable living, well, that’s the idea, after all.