YES, by God, I’m talkin’ Peer Pressure. Make 10 Barrel San Diego – I’m sorry, make that “Anheuser Busch San Diego” – the sole province of the Clueless and the Sleazy.
As a continuation of what I wrote in the aftermath of Anheuser Busch/InBev’s purchase of North Carolina brewery, Wicker Weed, about AB’s strategy of buying themselves a presence in America’s largest Indie Beer markets, it seemed like a good idea to also point out Phase Two of AB’s shoddy little master plan to either destroy Indie Beer or control it…and, make no mistake about it, that is exactly what’s going on.
AB announced plans, several months ago, to put a satellite brewpub for their wholly-owned “craft brewery” – Bend, Oregon’s 10 Barrel Brewing – in San Diego. Regardless of what you may read in the 5,000 asinine online polls and lists, San Diego IS America’s Number One brewing city – by a good margin. Portland is a close second and both Seattle and Denver have legit claims but no town in the US boasts a roster of breweries the caliber of AleSmith, Stone, Coronado, Ballast Point, Alpine, Karl Strauss, Societe, Port/Lost Abbey, Modern Times, St. Archer, Toolbox, Rip Current, Half Door, and Hop Concept…and many more.
Of all the cities in the US that really do not need and more breweries – especially those, like 10 Barrel, that aren’t even on a qualitative par with everything that will be around them in SD – San Diego would seem to be a city where 10 Barrel would be overreaching; trying to shoe-horn in an Oregon brewery that’s already tainted by being wholly owned by a gang of corporate shysters like AB. But that is where AB wanted it to be and here’s why:
AB’s management are bean-counters; always have been. They see numbers and sales projections and little else. We know that beer and its relative quality or lack thereof means nothing at all to them or they would have done something, back when “Craft” (Indie Brewing) started to be a Thing, to make better beer or expand their stylistic range and actually compete, instead of doing what they did: laugh up their sleeves and wait for this “fad” to run its course.
AB’s management is not very smart and they’ve cocooned themselves in a little world in which they fervently believe – in the face of MASSIVE evidence to the contrary – that we all really still love Budweiser and hold it in great esteem. They actually think that – once we’ve sewed our wild oats and had our fling with all these bitter, fruit-infused, barrel-aged, sour, funky, weird beers – we’ll all come back to the glories of dumbed-down, crummy imitations of Czech and German lager of ONE type, ONE set of flavors, and ONE brewer: AB. To this very day, these yoyos sit around in their boardrooms and think up ways to turn Americans away from small, independent breweries and beers with actual flavors, textures, balance, and interest. They have never yet gotten the indisputable FACT that we have all moved on and are never coming back. They see San Diego selling oceans of beer and say, “Hey, we should get us some of that! 10 Barrel is young and hip. Let’s put a 10 Barrel in San Diego!”
The rub here is that the San Diego beer community has made it abundantly clear that 10 Barrel is not needed and AB is NOT welcome AT ALL in their city. The response to this idiotic play by these clueless foreign interests has been monumental, unending, and unmistakable. If this had been a corporation with one shred of market awareness and concern for how their presence will be received, they would have dropped this plan months ago. Instead, the vast corporate ego of AB has compelled them to become even more aggressive and intractable about it. They are GOING TO engineer this head-on collision of one of the country’s most established and distinctive beer cultures and some puppet they perceive as being uber-hip and “alternative” enough to suck some revenues that they regard as theirs by some sort of bizarre Divine Right – they are The King of Beers, after all, right? – out of a community that has a ton of justifiable pride in what their own brewers have created and which has clearly rejected the idea.
All this shoddy spectacle does is to guarantee that employees of the new 10 Barrel Brewpub and Baboon’s Ass Mockery Circus are going to be abused, daily, by people unable to distinguish between the server at the bar and the corporate jackwagons who forced a young person trying to make a living into a position the corporate suits know they will never have to even see.
And let’s have the motives behind this perfectly clear…
AB/InBev is not opening a 10 Barrel branch in San Diego to make money…nor are they servicing a market niche or, as they usually insist, “responding to the wishes of our customers“, or even just adding something different to SD’s”mix”. This is about market penetration, influence, Cred…It’s the opening salvo on what will become an established Strategy, if this pub manages to stay open. In seeking what they see as their “rightful” place atop America’s beer community, every incursion into a major beer market takes them one step closer to ultimate control and primary influence in Indie Beer. If the SD 10B hangs on, BET THE FARM on seeing a Goose Island Brewpub in Seattle…a Wicked Weed Grill and Brewery in downtown Denver’s uber-hip RiNo District…a Four Peaks Tavern and Brewpub in Portland, OR…a Blue Point Taproom and Brasserie in Chicago.
AB has been at this for 120 years, folks. They believe in The Long Game. They’re betting their corporate survival that younger American beer fans will reach adulthood being just as oblivious a species of douchebag as their forebears and will just shrug at any suggestions of ethical questions and shoddy business practices and say, “Chill, dude! If the beer’s cold and it tastes good, drink it and relax!” I’ve been beset by this species of knothead quite a bit and they are as logic-resistent as any Trump supporter and even less swayed by the idea that they’re actually screwing their own cities and neighborhoods by handing money to Belgian suits and telling their own friend, family, neighbors, and local economy to go f**k themselves. These are, ultimately, not really beer drinkers and they are the natural victims of AB’s Neanderthal marketing campaigns. And there very well may be just enough of these delusional reverse snobs in SD to let 10 Barrel limp along – for a while.
I’m asking all my friends in the Southern California beer community to reject this arrogant, clueless incursion by a monolithic foreign “brewery” that somehow manages to look at the tidal waves of venom evoked by their every action and continue to think, “Ah, they’re just feelin’ their oats. They’ll come back, just as soon as they realize that all this craft beer nonsense is just youthful folly.” But don’t just reject 10 Barrel and refuse to set foot in the place. Make it CRYSTAL CLEAR to anyone you know who does go there that their support of crapheads is both noted and heavily frowned upon. YES, by God, I’m talkin’ Peer Pressure. Make 10 Barrel San Diego – I’m sorry, make that “Anheuser Busch San Diego” – the sole province of the Clueless and the Douchey. Make it clear that we’re onto AB’s malicious tactics and that we’re going to be there, shouting out the truth about these bullying ploys, EVERY time AB launches any new one. Make it difficult for AB to even operate and,. after doing that, make it even HARDER.
These shit-weasels have 120 years of thinking that they’re smart and we’re stupid; that we’re manipulable little pawns on a vast chessboard and that they are Boris Spassky. Let’s prove ’em wrong and show that the term “community”, as applied to independent American brewing, means exactly that.
I worked for these jackasses in the prep kitchen at the one in Portland. I was part of the crew that opened the joint. Within about 3 months, the guy they promoted to lead had bullied and harassed 3 people into quitting on a 4 man team. He came in high every single day and he didnt do any work. He pitted everybody on the crew against each other, and he came down on me extra hard constantly because I worked circles around him and I had actual leadership ability, which meant I was a threat. This is the one job where somebody threatened to kill me. The management fucking loved this loser, and he is still working there to this day. I’m so much better off without that bullshit.