I’m a middle-aged beer industry writer. It’s better than being an old beer writer, because old beer writers are always uncomfortably close to their final beer column. And it’s better than being a young beer writer, because I got here first and got the best things. A middle-aged beer industry writer is the best kind of beer writer because he knows what he knows and he knows what he doesn’t know. An old beer writer thinks he knows what he knows, but really he can’t remember much of anything. It’s a brain cell-depletion thing. A young beer writer knows what he knows but what he doesn’t know, which is considerable, he suspects doesn’t exist. I’m in the beer writer sweet spot, even though I’m old enough that my joints are squeaky and my feet are gouty. But enough gloating.
My theory is that if you aren’t pissing off at least twenty-five percent of your readers at any given time, then you aren’t doing your job.
I edit and publish an industry trade newsletter called Beer Business Daily. It comes out daily. Don’t laugh, you’d be surprised how many people, after hearing the name of the publication, ask how often it’s published. BBD, as it’s called in the trade, has grown from one subscriber in 1999―the first brave subscriber was a kind quiet gentleman named Mike Hopkins who still is an Anheuser-Busch distributor in Brenham, TX (we call him Subscriber No. 1A)―to over 20,000 daily readers who, for the most part, are anything but quiet. They have opinions and aren’t afraid to share them, more’s the pity. I am blessed each day with hundreds of emails, often hostile, in response to whatever was written in BBD that morning. My theory is that if you aren’t pissing off at least 25 percent of your readers at any given time, then you aren’t doing your job. So I get quite a daily cacophony of beer industry noise each day. And from this white noise, the middle-aged beer writer can tease out themes, connect dots, and discover hidden truths like a rarely situated gem―a diamond in a goat’s ass, say.
And one diamond in a goat’s rectum that recently presented itself to me in my daily email proctology exam is that―wait for it, because it’s good―beer is heavy. Let’s take a moment to digest this truth. Tick-tock. What, not so brilliant, you say? Read on.
Well, before we get into that splendid fact and its implications for the industry, let me clarify that we at BBDrarely write about actual beer. This great magazine and other venues do an excellent job of writing about the beer, a virtuous and worthy topic deserving of much ink. No, we write about the more mercenary topic of the money behind the beer: to whom it’s flowing and from whom it’s flowing. If you leave with one takeaway from this article―and it appears so far you are likely to come away with precious few―is that in the beer business, beer is slow and money is fast. Or to put more succinctly, beer is heavy, particularly in relation to its price.This one simple fact drives nearly everything else in the beer industry: how it’s sold, where it’s sold, at what price it’s sold, its ownership structure, etc. And the relation between beer’s weight and its price is presently changing, and that will, in turn, change how beer is sold, where it’s sold, at what price, and its ownership structure.