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Pete Coors Pens Open Letter to Brewers Association

Pete Coors Pens Open Letter to Brewers Association

Pete Coors, chairman of Molson Coors' board of directors, has written an "open letter" to the Brewers Association regarding the perceived negativity leveled at the Molson Coors brewing monolith. Coors's thesis is that the Brewers Association is failing the industry by acting in an adversarial way towards larger, multi-national breweries.

"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," Coors said in his letter, which he wrote in response to a speech given last week during Nashville, Tennessee's Craft Brewers Conference as well as an editorial in The New Brewer magazine.

Nikos Ridge, co-founder and president of Ninkasi Brewing Co. responded to Coors's letter with a paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown of his disagreements with Coors on the subject shortly thereafter.

Squabbles between macro brewers and craft brewers have been fairly frequent in recent years, especially with the rise of acquisitions, but rarely has a major figure like Pete Coors spoken out against the perceived mistreatment of multi-national brands at the hands of craft brewers.


Here is the original letter from Pete Coors to the Brewers Assocation:

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.


Photo Credit: 2018 Craft Brewers Conference