“Craft brewers took a world where people didn’t care about flavor or freshness in their beer, and changed it dramatically.” – Victory Brewing Company co-founder, Bill Covaleski
Last month, Victory Brewing Co. of Downington, Pennsylvania and Southern Tier Brewing Co. of Lakewood, New York merged to operate under a holding company formed by private equity firm, Ulysses Management. The two breweries’ new owner, Artisanal Brewing Ventures (amusingly abbreviated ABV), provides “management advice, assistance and vision to a select but growing list of independent craft brewers and distillers,” according to the Ulysses Management website.
The merger can be seen two ways: another pair of craft breweries surrendering their independence to the almighty dollar; or, two craft breweries joining forces to continue fighting the good fight against macro brands, with more money and power behind them than if they continued operating solo. One facet important to note is that ABV is a parent company, and won’t be producing any goods or services itself.
Whether you’re of the “another one bites the dust” camp or the “I’m not surprised/devastated/outraged, business is business” camp (I tend to lean toward the latter, in this case), consider this quote for a moment and let it tell you one sure thing: the beer world is changing, it will continue to constantly change, and a long as we have lots of options for good beers to drink and good people making them, we’re doing alright.
Read more of Covaleski’s response in Men’s Journal’s coverage of the merger here. For the full release, head to stbcbeer.com.
“Beer, if drunk in moderation, softens the temper, cheers the spirit, and promotes health.” — Thomas Jefferson
hat tip: “10 Beer Quotes To Celebrate National Drink Beer Day, aka The Best Holiday Ever,” Bustle.com, Sept. 28, 2015.
Kim Jordan, co-founder, New Belgium Brewing Company. Photo via NewBelgium.com
#WCW: Kim Jordan
Kim Jordan has more than 25 years’ experience in the craft beer industry. As co-founder of New Belgium Brewing Company (est. 1991) and having served as CEO for 15 years, she has strengthened the brewery and craft beer community at large as a leader, speaker and expert in all things beer biz. Jordan recently transitioned into a new role as executive chair at New Belgium, setting her sites set on strategy and advocacy for progressive business practices both within the New Belgium Family Foundation and on the 1% For the Planet Board of Directors.
“Conservation is sexy.” – “Brewing Big (With a Micro Soul),” Entrepreneur.com, Nov. 2009
Cheers to that, Kim!
Christine Celis (center) at Pintley’s “(Very) Rare Beer Night,” Clinton Hall, New York, Jan. 2014
#WCW: Christine Celis
In January 2014, I had the pleasure of meeting the legendary Christine Celis at a (Very) Rare Beer Night organized by Pintley at Lower Manhattan’s Clinton Hall. Celis was rambunctious, well spoken and outwardly excited about her recent exploits into gypsy brewing, her beer company in Austin, Texas, the rare Belgian beers she had curated for the event that night, and of course, the legacy of her father, Pierre Celis.
As heiress to one of the world’s most popular beer brands, Hoegarden, Celis had a hand in bringing the Witbier style back to the United States in the 1990’s. Since then, she’s taken over the family brewery, imported an impressive portfolio of Belgian beers, joined up with a brewpub in Austin and sent her amazingly positive vibes into the craft beer and brewing community across the country.
“The thing about success is, sometimes we don’t know how we got there. With failure, you learn a lot. You learn why you failed, how you failed, and how you can prevent the same failures. Then, success just comes.” — Christine Celis – Brewmaster’s daughter, businesswoman and balance seeker, Coffee With a Stranger, melissalombard.com
Cheers to that, Christine!
Wendy Littlefield. Photo via LinkedIn.com
#WCW: Wendy Littlefield
In honor of Brewery Ommegang’s 18th birthday next month and my departure for Belgium today, this week’s #WomanCrushWednesday goes to Wendy Littlefield. Along with her husband, Ed, Littlefield’s accolades go far beyond a bulleted list. From a romantic start of eloping in college, moving to Belgium and falling in love—with the tradition and taste of Belgian beer, that is—she became the first American woman inducted into the Belgian Brewers Guild and was nominated for the Mercurius Award, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Belgian government.
Back stateside, in addition to starting two beer businesses, she started several community-driven food and drink events and associations in her now-hometown of Cooperstown, N.Y. (Belgian Comes to Cooperstown among them). You can learn more about the Littlefields in the self-told “Very Long and Boring Story” of her career in beer—a lengthy one, yes, but there’s nothing boring about it.
“We have been at this business for 31 years and still adore it, and we are still married and capable of working together. How very fortunate we are. We think of ourselves as cultural anthropologists explaining culture through beer.” – “Why We Do What We Do— An Interview With Our New York Distributor,” March 2012, BelgianBeerExperts.com
Photo via The Daily Meal
#WCW: Carol Stoudt
Carol Stoudt is often touted for being a craft beer pioneer, and not only as a woman—she was crowned “Queen of Hops” (a media-given title) as the first female brewmaster and brewery owner in American history post prohibition, but was also one of the first brewmasters and brewery founders of that time, starting her business in what was arguably the most important year of the craft beer revolution, 1987. Filling rolls that were hardly there to be filled, Stoudt showed the country that craft beer belonged here, and she’s continued to do so for the last 28 years.
“My advice to anyone wanting to get in the business is to work in a variety of types and sizes of breweries or restaurants, as well as sales, if one is planning a micro. One needs not only passion but a willingness to work hard in all areas.” – Journey to the Beer Store, April 11, 2013
#WomanCrushWednesday is a BeerAffair series highlighting female leaders of the beer and brewing industries. View past crushes by clicking #WomanCrushWednesday or #WCW.
Jill Redding, editor-in-chief at the Brewers Association.
#WCW: Jill Redding
As the Brewers Association editor-in-chief, Jill Redding is responsible for overseeing the bi-monthly publication (every two months) of Zymurgy, a magazine “for the homebrewer and beer lover” which informs amateur beer makers on trends, best brewing practices, award-winning recipes and industry events, and the New Brewer, “a passionate voice for craft brewers,” created to provide commercial startup breweries with information on topics like brewing technology, problem solving, and management.
The Brewers Association (BA) is a non-profit trade association established “to promote and protect American craft brewers, their beers and the community of brewing enthusiasts.” In addition to its publications, education, insights and statistics pertaining to the craft brewing industry, the BA is responsible for major industry events such as the Craft Brewers Conference, Great American Beer Festival, SAVOR and World Beer Cup.
“Kudos to all homebrew clubs for teaching the world to brew, and for giving back to their communities!” — Brew’s Up, Indeed, Zymurgy Vol. 38 No. 5
Julia Herz, Brewers Association Craft Beer Program Director. Photo via BrewersAssociation.org
#WCW: Julia Herz
“Our craft breweries are small businesses that have helped bring great innovation and a less gender-targeted approach to beer marketing than ever before—I’ll cheers to that!” – Weighing in on Women and Beer, craftbeer.com, Aug. 2015
Cheers to that, Julia!
– Beer Affair