In the wake of my criticism of Elysian’s former owners for their sale to AB, I expected to get a lot of scorn and derision for what I wrote from those who have anointed themselves and each other as the TRUE movers ‘n’ shakers of craft beer…and I was not disappointed. I completely understand that many people are close to Dick Cantwell and love Elysian and could not possibly have been happy to see them referred to as “lazy”, “uncreative”, and as giving a big “Up Yours/Fuck You” to its fans. What I had thought was frankly beneath them was an attitude that nobody counts in the beer biz unless they own a brewery or suck up to those who do.
My job with The Pour Fool has very simple rules: Tell the truth as I see it. Be honest about it. NO negative reviews of either a brewery, brewer, or product – EVER. That’s really it. My task here does NOT – in any way – involve trying to please or curry favor with anyone in the beverage industry. If they are pleased with my profiles of their business or the reviews I write of their products, I’m happy about it. And the ONLY people who ever get swings taken at them in The Pour Fool are people who file lawsuits first and talk later and Anheuser Busch aka AB/InBev, which richly deserves every ounce of mud I sling in their direction.
I’m an Easterner, by birth and temperament. I speak directly, get angry when I feel honestly angry. I don’t sugar-coat. If anyone who reads either this or the Seattle P-I version thinks for a second that I enjoyed firing off at Dick Cantwell and Elysian, that only proves they don’t know me. It made me SICK to do it. But it was warranted, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to lay out all the shady, even illegal crap AB has done in their shoddy, cynical history. That’s all available with one quick google search. Those who care about facts will see for themselves. Those who just want to squeeze their adrenal glands will not. I happily accept either choice.
But everyone who has condescended about this and heaped scorn is wasting their time and energy. In my 30+ years writing for newspapers and magazines, my editors, to a person, swore me to one old publishing adage: “If you tell the truth as you see it, you don’t have to make excuses.”
My family has been after me since last October to cease publishing this blog in the Seattle P-I. I kept it there because I’m grateful to Hurst for hosting it for seven years and frankly didn’t think this website would do as well without the double publication. That said, they have done absolutely nothing to promote ANY of the wonderful “reader” blogs on the site, despite the fact that may of them generate more page views than their staff posts. So, my loyalty does have a limit and I won’t be all that sad when I an am off the P-I. As it has turned out, this little bloglet has done spectacularly well; not only beyond what I wanted to do but beyond what I ever dreamed it could be. The P-I edition is now actually hindering the growth of this site and, on or around April 1st, I’ll be winding the P-I version down. But anyone who thinks that means that this blog will become more civil, more faux-laid back, or less honest will be disappointed. What it means is that I no longer will have a version out there that’s been cleaned up to honor the P-I’s standards. If I find something like this Elysian/AB sale, I will go after it with teeth bared. Yes, there IS a certain percentage of people who read this and get offended. Being straight-forward and eschewing our fabulous West Coast/Northwest faux-cool and aversion to conflict is going to offend people.
But, as to the response to this sale and my post about it, I have received NO – ZERO – negative comments either on this site or via email. I got dozens of dissenting opinions when I went after 10 Barrel. Not ONE on this. On the contrary, almost every person I’ve read online has been upset or pissed about this. Most of the responses I’ve seen on other sites have been similarly disillusioned and angry. I have little patience with people who willfully disregard the MOUNTAIN of evidence of AB’s thuggery and are willing to accommodate their presence in yet another major beer market. These people are one of two things: Ignorant of their history or one of these uber-Cool, industry insider, I-know-everything-and-you-know-nothing types who consider themselves soooo above the disgruntlement of the masses, the unwashed, the little people…who are, curiously, exactly the same people who have made craft beer into the phenomenon it is and provide the dollars that make its growth possible.
If any of these insider types have retreated so far into their ivory towers that they no longer stay in touch with the feelings of those masses, they’d better think again. We, the millions who pour our dollars and loyalty into the nation’s craft breweries, are what REALLY drive craft beer. Without those unwashed masses, a LOT of today’s brewers would be making beer in their garages or wearing a paper hat and asking “Ya want fries with that?” about 200 times a day. And if AB/InBev gets their tentacles far enough into this craft beer culture, that sort of thing will happen because they regard craft beer as a fad, a thing to be dealt with and gotten past. Think about it: NONE of the breweries they’ve acquired generate enough revenues to amount to even .01% of AB’s annual revenues. Elysian, 10 Barrel, Goose Island, Blue Point…for AB, this is CRED, not money…and if the cred wanes, they’ll dump ’em all in a New York minute, with NO thought for the people involved.
ANYBODY selling their brewery to AB has made a BAD decision and damaged their own culture. I don’t really even care if I’m all alone in that opinion…but I’m not, not by a long shot. Unlike Bud’s way-cool industry enablers, I study history and anyone who thinks AB has suddenly had a Come To Jesus Moment and now respects craft brewing is, in effect, saying, “Hey, I want to tell ya about my good pal, Bernie Madoff. He’s a swell guy and he’s changed – really, he has! Go ahead and buy this time-share from him. You’ll never regret it!“