Okay, I've been reading those interviews Ben Jacklet, and there are a few nice nuggets. If you're at all interested in the industry, these are well worth a read. I'm plucking comments without context out of longer interviews that tell a great deal about the different values, strategies, and goals of the breweries. It's really quite fascinating stuff if you have the time.
Jack Joyce, Rogue:
"We don’t think the customer’s always right. That’s a stupid thing to say, how can the customer always be right? Our deal is, the customer is to be treated the way he acts. If he acts like a jerk, he is a jerk. The staff is not here to take shit from our customers so we can make money."
Also interesting: just 15% of Rogue is sold in Oregon. Rogue sells well in Georgia (!). They're in all 50 states.
Gary Fish, Deschutes:
"Well, it’s really interesting, because from my perspective the primary motivation behind those alliances with Anheuser Busch was for Widmer and Red Hook to get access to a distribution system that had been closed to them. Now that distribution system is opening up. It’s been a much publicized, at least inside the industry, jailbreak. Anheuser Busch distributors are moving away from that agreement with Anheuser Busch. We’ve been approached by a dozen or more large formerly exclusive Anheuser Busch distributors that want to carry our beer. The idea that we would have to pay Anheuser Busch a substantial over-ride for the sales that run through their system, that by the way they have the ownership over, when we don’t have to — the motivation to strike that kind of a deal is non-existent."
On the growth potential for craft beer: " How high is up? All we want to do is get to 5%. And then we’ll talk about 6. I think there’s lots of room. There’s only 96% left."
Also interesting: nearly 50% of Deschutes' beer is sold in Oregon. They only sell in 13 states.
Rob and Kurt Widmer:
Kurt: "But that said, one of the things that Rob and I get most frustrated about is that there are people out there who think we’re too big. These are the same people who will drink beer from another continent that’s a million times our size. They’re not too big. But we’re too big. It’s not that our quality has gone down or anything like that. It’s just that we’re too big. That kind of mentality fascinates me."
Also interesting: two hot spots for Widmer are DC and North Carolina.
Irene Firmat, Full Sail:
"I have a ton of respect for Kurt Widmer. The challenge is, every time you coalesce brands, you lose voice. We have a meeting with Safeway and we get an hour, and all we talk about is Full Sail. If you’re in an alliance, you may get two hours, but then you talk about totally different brands.
"You may cut some costs, but it’s very challenging and it’s not appealing to us. Widmer has made it work because they are doing very well. But it’s not for us."
Also interesting: in their first year, Full Sail produced 287 barrels of beer (this year it will be 130,000). They originally considered naming the company "Sasquatch."