Why Porter Beer Bar Won’t Serve Founders CBS This Year
Today begins the long-awaited release of Founders Brewing’s Canadian Breakfast Stout (CBS) across a 46-state footprint. While beer lovers across the U.S. rush to lineup in front of their go-to bottle shop or favorite beer bar, there are a growing number of businesses that have decided to draw a line in the sand when it comes to carrying corporate beer.
The Porter Beer Bar, located in the Atlanta, GA, is one of these businesses championing small and independent brewers. Opening in 2008 with the mantra “We don’t sell what we don’t like,” the Porter Beer Bar has evolved its stance on what actually needs promotion, and that’s the little guy (like them).
The turning point came with AB-InBev’s purchase of Wicked Weed Brewing. “When they sold it felt like a betrayal,” co-founder Molly Gunn stated. “I understand all the wonderful reasons for working hard for years and selling your business when the opportunity arises … but when a multi billion-dollar company now owns you, you no longer need a single bar in Atlanta, Georgia to champion your beer.”
(Read: Adam Avery on the Decision to Sell a Minority Stake to Mahou San Miguel)
In 2014, Founders Brewing sold 30 percent of the brewery to Spanish company Mahou San Miguel, taking them out of the category of craft. That’s why you won’t find CBS at The Porter this time. Molly explains more behind the decision in a statement.
Founders CBS is being released this year. The last time it came out we tapped it on Christmas and we had a line out the door at 5pm when we opened. The keg was gone in an hour and it was a very merry Christmas. This year we will not be buying CBS and this is why.
For the first seven years of existence The Porter was governed by the simple rule of we don’t sell what we don’t like. The “we” was Nick and I. Sometimes we disagreed and we picked up a beer only to drop it a few months later. Sometimes a bartender made an impassioned argument for a particular favorite and so we allowed it. It was an emotional not a logical system, but it ruled out Budweiser, Miller Lite, and PBR, which set us apart from our neighboring bars in Little Five Points.
For years the murkiness within the beer industry grew and we continued to carry what we liked for the most part. When Ballast Point sold to Constellation in 2015 we dropped our Sculpin draft line and started carrying it only in cans. Despite the fact we still liked the beer we didn’t feel like Ballast Point needed us in the way a smaller independent brewery needed bars like The Porter to hand sell and promote their beers.
We were a little guy; we wanted to help the little guys. We still only wanted to carry high quality beers we loved, but if we could also promote breweries that might still need our help it was a win-win. This was the beginning the shift for us. It wasn’t until Wicked Weed sold to AB-InBev in May 2017 that we realized we needed to draw a clear line in the sand.
Wicked Weed is a great brewery. We loved their beer; we had planned a beer dinner with them and a collaboration beer with them for 2017. We carried over 30 of their bottles and put almost every seasonal of theirs on draft. When they sold it felt like a betrayal.
I understand all the wonderful reasons for working hard for years and selling your business when the opportunity arises. It’s the American Dream and I do not fault anyone who takes that road. But when a multi billion-dollar company now owns you, you no longer need a single bar in Atlanta, Georgia to champion your beer. While the tiny brewpub in Cumming may still need The Porter to spread the word of great craft beer in the middle of nowhere (looking at you, Cherry Street!)
And so in May 2017 we decided we needed a very clear definition of what breweries were craft. We chose to follow the Brewers Association definition, which gives a limit of barrels brewed along with several rules for ownership, one of which is that the brewery must be under 25% owned by any non-craft brewery.
Apparently we are in good company, here is a link to an article about bars in DC that have chosen to stop serving Non Craft beer.
Founders is not craft because San Miguel owns 30%. Avery also just sold 30% to San Miguel. Terrapin is over 50% owned by Miller Coors. Goose Island is 100% owned by In-Bev. The list goes on and on, but for clarification I have included a list of breweries we have dropped since May. We might still have a few bottles lingering, but we have not purchased their beer since then.
Bosteels (Triple Karmeliet, Kwak)
The good news for our customers is there is a ton of true craft beer out there. We have not felt hampered by this limitation to our selection of delicious beers. In fact we will be a tapping Prairie Bourbon Barrel Aged Paradise on Christmas along with Vanilla Noir, Coffee Noir and regular Noir, so come see us for a merry craft Christmas!
Thank you for reading.
AKA they didn’t get any allocation.
It’s really sad when an alliance with another beer company (not owned by AB/InBev) is seen negatively. Founders employees are now offered comprehensive health benefits and a company matched 401k. After 90 days of employment. All thanks to a small merger with a foreign beer company; and they still make great beer in Michigan.
Pulling a line to sell package isn’t taking a stance. This is all posturing for PR. Pushing subpar product because you think you’re looking out for someone is detrimental to the industry as a whole.
“We were a little guy; we wanted to help the little guys.”
Making bootleg brewery glasses and selling them (at very high prices) doesn’t seem like a nice way to help the little guys.