Evil Twin Spat Represents Everything Wrong With Craft Beer
Firstly I must preface that as an organization, PorchDrinking still maintains the policy of promoting the craft beer industry in a positive manner. However, that being said, it’s important to address hot button issues and trends that are detrimental to the industry as a whole.
Last week, one such pervasive trend rose to prominence in the public eye when Evil Twin Brewing published an e-mail sent to them by an Christopher Klein, employee of Colorado’s Caution Brewing Company. His beef with the gypsy brewery centers around his opinion that Evil Twin charges too much for their beer. That e-mail which was released via Evil Twin’s Facebook page follows:
Dearest Evil Twin(s),
First and foremost, let me say that you folks make some excellent beers, and I have the utmost respect for your brewers. I’ve had some average ones here and there, but the vast majority of your portfolio is top notch. What I do not particularly care for is the disgusting, offensive, pompous, and entirely [email protected] price point at which you set your beers.
Yes, bombers are one thing. You can sell a 6% beer as $10 bomber, and you won’t hear much fuss, even though you should. You might even be able to sell it for $12, if it’s a really, really well-made beer. But you guys, oh I bet your team of sales assho*es could (try to) sell it for $20…am I right?!
On the other hand, the pricing of your four packs and six packs is insultingly exorbitant at best. I could reference most of your catalogue in making this point, but instead, I’ll focus on two key examples. First, three to four years ago, your Hipster Ale was being sold for $3 a can plus tax in the southern states. It was seemingly not being sold in larger packs at that time. Considering that it is an average American pale ale on a good day, and its alcohol content is the norm for the style, that was absolutely absurd. Since then, both the price point and the packaging (now in six packs) has changed. It seems clear that you all learned your lesson on that one, but yet you continue such indecency with most other beers. The latest example is your NomaderWeisse Berliner Weisse.
I should note here that I work for a Colorado brewery and intricately understand the costs and labor of making certain styles. Sour/tart beers can cost more and take longer to make, and I am always happy to pay a little extra for good people’s labor. Unfortunately, that is far from the case here. Just yesterday, I saw your Berliner Weisse being sold for $18.99 a six pack, plus tax. I realize that much of this might be markup by the local liquor store, but even on the East Coast, I’m hearing of prices from $13-15. I’ll settle on $15 as an average from here on out. Sadly, $15 per six pack implies that you very well might not be “good people,” as such a price for a 4% beer is highway-fucki&g-robbery. There’s no way in hell that this beer costs that much to make, and the industry provides a number of examples as evidence. Anderson Valley (CA) sells a couple of great 4.2% goses, both for $9-10 a six pack, while Westbrook (SC – where you brewed this god-forsaken beer) sells their excellent gose at the same price and size.
I imagine you guys would argue that, as gypsy brewers, you pay more for the use of facilities, and as a result, have to pass much of that cost on to your customers? Let me remind you all that you have chosen this path; nobody forced you to brew without a permanent location. Financially, you folks are barely getting by, or you’re raking in the cash. I’m guessing that the reality is closer to the latter, and in that case, might I suggest buying some equipment and backing off of those who want to be your loyal customers? There’s no excuse for gouging your customers just because you don’t want to stay put or shell out for your own system.
Yes, you could also argue that Dogfish Head started this model, and that you’re just following in their footsteps. The difference is Dogfish Head puts obscure, rare, highly sought-after ingredients in many of their beers and still manages to charge at least 10% less than you guys. Another example of high pricing is Ballast Point, who seems to be riding the overhyped wave all the way to $14-15 six packs of their Sculpin IPA. And guess what?! It makes them look like total assho#es, and everyone knows it! I can name 10 IPAs that are just as good as, if not better than, Sculpin, and for that reason, I never buy that beer in liquor stores. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, don’t let your social media lackey go on Twitter and compare the pricing of heady, also bu*lshit, foodie juice blends to your beer pricing. Everyone knows those juices are laughably overpriced, but more so, what the [email protected] does the price of trendy juice have to do with the price of your beer?! If you guys are too damn stupid to figure it out, comparing someone else’s offensively overpriced thing to your offensively overpriced thing isn’t helping your already weak defense. In terms of any other defenses or counter-arguments you might have, I’ll be frank and say that I don’t really care to hear your propaganda. I’ve formed my opinion, and there’s a near-absolute chance that nothing you can say will change it.
More eloquently, I’ve always loved much of your portfolio, but I’m becoming fed-up with being treated like a source of income, as opposed to a member of a group that you folks need to survive. You’re already one of the biggest jokes of the industry with your childish sibling bickering, so why not stop there, and treat everyone else in the world with some fucki*g respect?
Chris Klein seems like someone who is very conflicted. Clearly he is a fan of the beer that Evil Twin produces and yet he is not willing to pay the prices that they charge for said beers. Now Mr Klein’s quandary is one that many people have had to face since childhood. When I was 10, I wanted a fresh pair of Jordan’s because as the commercials subversively succeeded in conveying, I wanted to be like Mike.
However when riddled with the option of blowing my entire life savings on a pair of basketball shoes or divvying my earnings between trips to the movie, an occasional ice cream sandwich earned only by chasing down a truck blaring demonic carney music and a crisp pack of basketball cards, I chose the latter. I did not write a profanity laced diatribe to Phil Knight comparing the quality of lesser shoes and their corresponding prices, because as a 10 year old I understood the underlying concepts of capitalism, supply and demand, and The Rolling Stones.
Sure Mr. Klein’s sophomoric (wine)ing was laughable, but it goes to highlight a pervasive trend of entitlement among many diehard beer consumers. It’s these types of acts that feed into the stereotype of the mustachioed hipster fussing over a peach pumpkin pale ale.
Don’t get me wrong, I love craft beer, so much so that I wanted to create a website devoted to sharing the amazing stories that come out of the craft beer industry. However, more and more do we see examples of people coming to blows over rare bottles, trashing beers and breweries on message boards, consumed by check-ins on beer apps, and inherently tearing down the very industry they obsess over. In the case of Klein’s letter, not only did he seek to devalue to worth of another brewer’s creation, but he also dragged his employer into a fray they never intended to join.
By name dropping credentials that he worked for a Colorado brewery, in order to somehow validate his points, he unintentionally set message board haters on the offensive with negative comparisons on behalf of both breweries, further perpetuating beer on beer hate.. Luckily the Colorado brewery responded with grace, and extinguished any further back and forth by acknowledging the wrong-doing and extending a peace offering.
Fans often forget the human element of this industry. They forget that brewers are trying to support families, that they’ve mortgaged homes to in order to chase their dreams. They forget how much work went into building not just their own brewery, but the craft brewing community as a whole. People that when you create something it holds a deeper value and greater truth. Stop treating craft beer like a pair of Nikes or any other collectable, trophy or conquest. Enjoy beer, remember that behind every true craft beer, there’s a story, a struggle, an actual person so take a moment to appreciate what you’re drinking rather than spending your energy trying to compare or tear it down.