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Beavertown & its discontents

In Uncategorized on June 23, 2018 by kmflett

Beavertown & its discontents

Update #2

This story is still working its way through so a further update. Cloudwater have now posted their explanation for exiting the Beavertown Extravaganza and there is a link below.

Their point is that Heineken is not, on a worldwide basis, perhaps the most ethical of companies. Its a good point and underlines the problem for lovers of good beer that Big Beer represents.

However one need only follow the career trajectory of the individual who sold SABMiller to AB in the largest ever deal on the London Stock Exchange (which I’m not doing here for professional reasons) to see that Big Beer is just a subset of Big Business. I’ll post on that (how Big Beer is related to Big Capital) when time allows.

I suppose the point there is that if the activities of capital concern you as much as they do me, making a point of being on the 13th July protest when Trump arrives in the UK is important. What beverage you do or do not drink on the day is optional

Update #3

On 29th June the London Evening Standard published a brief interview with Logan Plant. Perhaps key is the point that while to Beavertown Heineken’s £40M investment is a huge deal to them it is loose change. If Beaverworld works out they’ll expect a return of course. If not, losses are tax deductible. As for beer for the many perhaps  non-drinker Jeremy Corbyn can be interested in the Tempus Kvass which is well under the 2.9% ABV generally taken as being alcoholic in the UK…

https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/foodanddrink/beavertown-founder-on-40m-heineken-deal-and-keeping-brand-integrity-a3875381.html

On 21st June Beavertown brewery, based in Tottenham, announced the long-heralded investment by Heineken in its project to construct a new brewery and tap room within the M25.

I have written about that here:

https://kmflett.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/heineken-invests-in-beavertown-good-news-for-good-beer-but-take-care-out-there/

Roger Protz has written on the issue of Beavertown, Heineken and Big Beer. Broadly speaking I think he is right:

http://protzonbeer.co.uk/comments/2018/06/23/big-beer-moves-in-on-beavertown

What is almost as interesting is the reaction.

A good deal of it was on what might be called a ‘class’ basis. Small businesses don’t like big business (or organised labour) because they see it as a threat to how they do things. It is an historical tendency not necessarily reflected in each specific circumstance but there was a feel of that in some of the commentary.

There should be a sense of proportion. Beavertown was not trending on twitter, this was a niche discussion. For those aware of the niche it was interesting.

Beer writer Will Hawkes noted that numbers of London breweries were looking to expand in the near future and would need capital investment. It has to come from somewhere so Beavertown may by the first of a few.

Elsewhere Brewdog’s James Watt, someone who features in the Sunday Times list of the richest people in the UK and whose company has significant private equity investment tweeted that its bars would not carry Beavertown’s products anymore. That is up to him but I’d say it’s a poor business decision. Brewdog’s beer range is largely lacklustre (in my view) and it is the guest list, including Beavertown, that attracts. Cloudwater also tweeted that they were withdrawing from Beavertown’s Extravaganza festival in September and have now provided the reasoning here:

http://cloudwaterbrew.co/blog/tough-calls-and-a-bigger-picture

James Beeson of the Morning Advertiser, more pertinently, referred to a recent piece on transparency and authenticity in craft beer. Big beer may on occasion be drinkable but unless you are in a hotel bar after midnight (obviously I never am..) then why would you drink it. Beavertown need to take care of their brand here.

Finally, the bottom line. Back in one of Tottenham’s finest pubs, the High Cross in the evening of the announcement the vox pop (from those who were interested) was that it was great to see Beavertown expanding and good luck. An important grassroots corrective to a sometimes overheated twittersphere.

That said Beavertown dealing with The Man (Heineken) will be no easy matter and criticisms are far from without force. However as I said in my original piece it’s a matter of balance.

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