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On Selling Out

From The Iron Horse Brewery Blog

On Selling Out


When I think about the craft beer world, I think of community. When Elysian sold to Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Elysian’s community exploded. People have been spewing hate in any way they can find. I see the rebuttals from the defenders of Elysian’s actions and many of them attempt to bring the attackers rationale into question by suggesting that they are hypocrites because they have a mega-corporation cell phone, drive a mega-corporation car and fuel themselves with mega-corporation gas and coffee. I think that misses the point and it’s too cynical (which is ironic if you know how cynical I am). From what I’ve seen, the leading edge of the craft beer movement has been one of local connection with passionate people who are crafting something special for their friends and neighbors. It has been inherently anti-corporate.

Beer is not a tool of utilitarian nature. Beer is a social fuel. In 2015, beer is part of a movement of awareness about place and connection to your surroundings. I understand why people feel betrayed. I feel betrayed. There has been a death in the Washington craft beer community and it could have been avoided. If your favorite local brewery sells to a conglomerate, I don’t see how you could not be pissed. It completely undermines the revolution of investing your time and social capital in a business that brings you and your community closer; a business that if thoughtfully operated helps strengthen and define a community. Elysian was that business. Now it is a marketing tool for the largest brewer in the world. Shit!

If you think I am an idealist dipshit and your ideal future makes no differentiation between total mega-corporate control of all our markets or locally owned and operated stakeholders, then we have a very different perspective. I’m not ready to yield my world to ‘efficiencies’, ‘market share growth’, ‘standardization’ and all the other things we’ve been told are so great about the free market and consolidation. I like diversity. I like paying a cobbler to repair my shoe, even though I could get a new pair for the same money. I like getting a loaf of bread from the person who baked it, start to finish. I’m not ready for Idiocracy.

I guess what I’m saying is, Iron Horse Brewery will continue to reinvest all the social and financial capital that you all have generously invested in us over the years into really stupid stuff like local jobs, local non-profits, parties whose purpose are fun not profit, ridiculous marketing initiatives that haven’t been produced by psychologists, equipment technology that makes better beer, and countless other things that can’t be measured by shareholder dividends but rather by human happiness. We will continue to be fastidious about making locally controlled craft beer and haphazard about everything else.

Thanks for the opportunity. I might fuck it up, but I surely won’t sell out.

Hugs and Kisses


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No Comments

Brian Allen
January 26, 2015 6:11 pm

Great post Greg, I’m with you 100%. It’s a wide spectrum between sticking to your guns and selling out. They always could have sold to local investors. I suspect they were presented with an offer they couldn’t refuse… It’s sad either way.

Well That Changes Everything | BEERDSLEY
January 27, 2015 10:04 am

[…] is idealistic in nature. Don’t believe me? Read what Ellensburg’s Iron Horse brewery had to say about the sale of Elysian. Craft brewing is built on community, comradery, and competition. […]

January 27, 2015 10:46 am

What can I say?

Adam Lee
January 27, 2015 11:58 am

Having lived in olympia for almost all my life, I always drove past the Oly brewery smelling of the hops on certain days, listening to the whistle blow and waiting for my 21st birthday to take a tour. Then Miller (South africa brewing) bought and closed it down. This sale also came with a non competition clause. No other brewery could take over an awesome building and brew that wonderful social lubricant. Another Pacific NW icon lost the the CONGLOMERATATE of FOREIGN owned beer corperations.

seven best/worst sellouts of 2015 | Iron Horse Brewery
December 28, 2015 2:40 pm

[…] craft beer sellouts of 2015 according to Greg […]

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