12 January 2014

Sam Adams Puts a Tap Bounty on Lagunitas?

Up until now, craft brewers have been pretty chummy. They've collaborated on beers, shared ingredients, and sold equipment they've outgrown to smaller breweries. That's because, Chris Morris writes, "Craft brewers haven't yet reached the point where they're really competing against each other, they're too busy competing against the macro brewers (AB InBev, SABMiller, etc.)."

It seems things are beginning to change.

A string a tweets from Lagunitas owner Tony Magee alleges that Sam Adams' new IPA, Rebel IPA, is being marketed to gain market share in the popular IPA category. Magee tweeted that common distributors were told by Boston Brewing that they were going to replace every Lagunitas IPA tap handle in the world.

Tap wars are not uncommon in the beer business. Distributors will put bounties on competitors taps. I doubt Jim Koch issued an order from his perch atop Mount Olympus. If it is coming from Boston Brewing I'm sure it's coming from lower in the command chain, probably from the region managers. Most of the times I've seen it happen, or heard about it, tap wars are initiated at the distributor level as a way to fire up the sales reps.

On the other hand, Magee's reaction to someone trying to come into his market is a little contradictory. He says he welcomes competition, but doesn't like being a targeted by competitor.

I do understand Magee's reaction: the definition of Craft Beer changes every time Sam Adams has a sales increase. When the biggest craft brewer decides he wants in your niche, you have to worry a little bit.


posted by hiikeeba at 08:00


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