If you’re from Long Island or live here now, there’s a good chance you’ve gulped down a few Blue Point Brewing Toasted Lagers in your day. Heck, it may have even been your introduction to craft beer. According to brewersassociation.com, Blue Point Brewery was #36 in beer sales by volume amongst American craft breweries in 2012. So for Long Island beer drinkers, the fact that Anheuser-Busch today announced its purchase of the first craft brewery opened on Long Island (according to their website) is big news.
The transaction is definitely a mixed bag of emotions for most Blue Point fans. You don’t want to lose the authenticity and flavor of ‘your’ local craft brews, and the fact that the company that makes Bud Light just took over is a tough pill to swallow for some. Although details on the sale are still unreleased, you can’t blame co-founders Peter Cotter and Mark Burford for capitalizing on the success of a business they built from the ground up, earning Long Island a spot in the craft beer movement almost 16 years ago.
Scott Pflug is the Craft and Import Specialist for Clare Rose, one of the top beer wholesalers and distributors in the US. He also gave me my first can of “Heady Topper” and is a wealth of beer knowledge. He offered some insight on the sale of Blue Point and the implications it will (or won’t) have on the brewery and operations. “It shows how smart A-B is” Scott started. Adopting the “If you can’t beat em’ join em’” attitude is apparent in the way A-B is moving and buying small craft breweries.
We talked about all the negative comments on Facebook regarding the sale, with people voicing their concerns over the future of Blue Point and its beers. People were really pessimistic. Then Scott made a valid point. “Why would AB take over this profitable brewery and come in and change it?” he asked. He went on to say if anything it will improve operations “They will take the classics to a more modern facility with better equipment and the best brewers in the world.”
He sells their beer now, and will continue to sell their beer. He speaks from experience, being involved with the acquisition of Goose Island Brewing Co. several years ago. Although I hadn’t had many of their beers before the takeover, I love their beer now and would never know they weren’t really “craft” anymore. Moreover, I may have never had to opportunity to have their beer without wider distribution and larger sales territory.
Think of all the people across the country that will be able to try a Long Island-born beer that is really good. It can only trickle down to the other local breweries and generate attention on the whole Long Island scene.
As much as I’d like to bash the takeover, I just can’t. It’s great news for the owners and probably everyone.
When I saw the tasting room that Brewery Ommegang was able to build after being acquired by Duvel, it felt more akin to the careful restoration of an old painting than a corporate takeover. Hopefully that’s what this will feel like. Ultimately I think it will depend on the beer. We will be able to taste and decide for ourselves once the dust has settled and A-B is brewing the Blue Point beers.
About the sale, Scott said from the owners’ perspective “It iss the American dream. Who wouldn’t want to be paid for what they created and worked a good part of their lives for?”