True Craft (check in around the 16 minute mark, though you should watch the build-up)….
Greg Koch today revealed plans that are bigger and more ambitious than even building an American brewery in Berlin. True Craft will launch a $100 million fund for investing in “real” food and beverage companies with the goal of creating a stable and ongoing environment for “craft” conscious companies so that selling out doesn’t have to be an only option.
This fund which has garnered a not unsizeable starting bankroll of $100 million will acquire minority positions in craft breweries. Per Koch, “They can make their own decisions about their future,” he said. “They can stay independent. They can get financing and flexibility that they need to flourish, while keeping their soul and control.”
I almost think it is too late to the game but a welcome addition to the brewery succession plan cupboard of ideas. ESOP’s and partial sales to investors or merging with bigger craft brands are all well and good but without a place to go that can guide brewery once the initial founder is done is what is needed more. SABInBevMiller may think they were smart to buy up formerly craft breweries but their eternal short-sight syndrome may have led them to buy when breweries would have gone “poof” and vanished. Innovative financing ideas like this and micro-loans are what are truly needed to keep innovative ideas bubbling for years.
I know the Pollyanna card will be played in my direction. Thinking that whatever breweries join must fall into lockstep with Stone could be a worry but the main reaction so far seems to be to the name, True Craft, alone.
Financing is tricky. So are succession plans. Just like a thriving craft beer culture needs breweries of all sizes. All types of plans should be available. True Craft may not affect more than a few breweries but it could be a lifeline for those few and to piss on the whole endeavor instead of finding where it could help seems counterproductive.
More on this endeavor will be posted here as it develops. (And I hope it catches on with coffee, cheese, wine and other “crafted” foods and drinks)