Saturday, April 10, 2010

The craft brewing industry: a case of unique competition

Image taken from

In most veins of business, national or international, competition often creates a ruthless atmosphere in which competing companies/products do whatever they can to weaken their opponents. Whether it be through litigation, negative marketing campaigns (see verizon v. at&t), or huge marketing campaigns. With that being the norm, it is incredibly nice to see that paradigm turned on its ear in the beer industry. In recent years, and especially recently, collaboration between breweries has become a popular endeavor.

A few collaborations that I am aware of:
I have never been a part of such a project (yet, giggity) but I presume that material cost, freight cost, marketing cost, etc are split between the participating breweries. Not only that, but it strengthens social bonds, creates new ones, and helps the participants foster a greater appreciation for their fellow beer industry brethren. In short, I cannot think of a downside to collaborative brews, and I hope they continue. Beyond the benefits listed above, they prove that while 'competition' is an unavoidable facet of every industry, the brewing industry proves that it can be more than a term that insinuates animosity.

Personally, I would like to see a collaboration between Surly and Schell's brewery of Minnesota. Surly + Schell's + Great Waters Brewing Company would be great as well. Ok, need to stop the day dreaming.

Teamwork in the beer industry is also starting to exist beyond one-off collaborative beers. Earlier this year Dogfish Head, Russian River, Teo Musso (brewmaster of Birrificio Le Baladin) and Leonardo Di Vincenzo (of Birra del Borgo) teamed up with chefs Mario Batali, Joe Bastianich, and Italian food emporium Eataly to open a brewery-pub on a New York City.

Where would you like to see collaborations occur next? Whiskey? Cheese? Toy stores? Let us know.

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