Op-Ed from Breckenridge Brewery & Anheuser Busch’s The High End
If the results of last week’s shakeup involving the Colorado Brewers Guild, and the newly formed Craft Beer Colorado were any indication, the craft beer industry has fallen on confusing time. While the rift between the two groups derived from a number of varying factors, one of the key points of contention involved the fact that Anheuser-Busch owned, Breckenridge Brewery’s, Todd Usry still remains a CBG board member.
In response to last week’s fallout, Todd Usry along with Anheuser-Busch’s The High End Division President, Felipe Szpigel have issued a joint op-ed letter to PorchDrinking.com. This Op-Ed in no way reflects the views or opinions of the PorchDrinking Staff, however we do feel it is our journalistic responsibility to share both sides of any story and thus provide this forum for Usry and Szpigel to express their views.
There has been a lot of talk lately about the current state of craft beer, especially here in Colorado. And there’s been discussion about Anheuser-Busch and Breckenridge Brewery. With that, we both felt compelled to share our views.
First and foremost, we both respect the Brewers Association and all of the state brewers’ guilds across the country. Some have shifted to drawing a line in the sand when it comes to independent breweries. From our viewpoint, this is divisive rhetoric and a distraction on what should really matter, namely the desire of all brewers to continue driving beer forward, both here in Colorado and across the country.
Beer as a whole needs direction and our mutual perspective is we need to focus on the challenges facing our category, together. With all of the noise the past few days a key point that has been overlooked is a willingness to work together as a community. All of us make our living in the beer industry and, we hope, love drinking great beer. From that foundation, only together through passion and providing the best experiences, can we move past the divisiveness and discuss a path forward that is inclusive, not exclusive.
When it comes to participation in the Colorado Brewers Guild, or any state guild, our viewpoint is simple:
- We support beer and local guilds, whether at the state or local levels.
- We want Breckenridge Brewery, and any partner brewery within The High End, to be welcome in state guilds.
- We, as Anheuser-Busch and Breckenridge Brewery, are not asking for the right to vote. We simply want the ability to participate and join in discussions.
- We want to participate in, host and support craft beer events throughout the country.
- Most importantly, we want to provide knowledge and resources to other craft breweries – focusing on quality and safety. We’ll do this in Colorado by continuing to offer Breckenridge’s quality lab on a regular basis to local breweries who would like to come in and test their beers. We’ll also hold a safety or quality seminar every quarter at the Breckenridge Brewery in Littleton to any brewer who would like to attend, working together to identify the most important and relevant topics.
The partnership between Anheuser-Busch and Breckenridge Brewery employs approximately 1,600 Coloradoans and came together because both of us, at our core, brew beer for a living. Just like every other brewery in Colorado that is looking for support to continue to grow, Breckenridge wanted to partner with someone who is committed to the brewery for the long term.
We’re both positive about beer and celebrate the passionate brewers in Colorado who brew great beer and provide great experiences. As leaders, we want to stay above the fray and take a beer-first approach. We applaud all brewers out there who share this perspective and want to advance our community.
Those who speak negatively about either of our companies likely do not know what we stand for. There is heightened angst in the marketplace as the number of competitors within the beer industry continues to grow. Many times, the easiest thing to do is to find someone, or something, to blame.
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is have an open dialogue. Rather than all of us running to a series of corners, perhaps we should come together for the industry, product and experiences we all deeply value and love.
We’re open, willing, and ready. Are you?
Todd Usry is the president of Breckenridge Brewery
Felipe Szpigel is the president of The High End, a business unit of Anheuser-Busch