John Verive from the Los Angeles Times scored an interview with Tony Yanow, late of Golden Road Brewing where the topic of GRB being “Built to Sell” was brought up. The charge was categorically denied. Later over on The Full Pint blog (which I follow), they categorically denied that denial.
The question though and the word choice lead to an easy dodge. From a timeline standpoint, Golden Road opened the same year that Goose Island was sold. Which means that unless GRB was awfully good at prognosticating into the future they were not developed and built and brewed to sell. At that moment in history, there were no buyers save for ABInBev but their buying spree days were years ahead of them.
Since I love me an analogy, it is like asking me if I was planning on cheating on my wife, before I even met her. Of course the answer is no. It is a pass a lie detector test super easy question. Thus the question is dodged all because it was phrased in a certain way. The deeper and harder questions are left on the table. Questions such as, Who voted for and who against? Was the L.A. beer scene and its future taken into account? Add in your concern here.
Now I haven’t and won’t cheat on my wife because it is morally wrong according to how I live my life. Selling to SABInBevMiller (if I had a brewery or stake in one) would also be off the table according to my code. That breaking of a moral code is the concern that craft beer fans harbor and until it is addressed by those in charge at GRB, those fans won’t have the closure they want and will continue to vent.
But the beer fans don’t get off the hook that easy. That pesky word “built” is code in some of their circles for “too big”. Big being a bugaboo for many a craft beer fan. Because, ya’ know, small is ALWAYS good. Insert sarcasm emoji here. Stop me if you have heard this rant from me before but you can be a big business and still be a moral and upstanding member of the community. And you can be a giant asshat and be a small business. There are some who see any brewery that starts big as evil from the start. GRB got a fair share of undeserved crap just for the desire to grow big from the get-go.
I am no apologist for their actions. In fact, I had hoped to not write about GRB at all and wait for them to win me back with a fantastic beer. I just want the focus to be where the actual decision was made and why it was made at that point instead of castigating a company for growth plans.