Craft beer fans and the media have watched with apprehension over the past few years as giant brewers like Anheuser-Busch and international brewers like Duvel have purchased some of the country’s larger craft brewing operations. And on Wednesday, February 5, Anheuser-Busch announced in a press release that it would be acquiring Blue Point Brewing Company, Long Island’s largest brewery. The sale immediately garnered the expected response from fans on social media accusing Mark Burford and Peter Cotter, who founded the company, of selling out.
BeerUnion reached out to several members of the New York beer community and the New York State Brewers Association for a response. And the sky is not falling. Acquisitions of breweries by larger corporations is simply part of the world they live in. They understand that there are people behind these companies with lives, like any other business owner. They know that the growth of craft beer, something they work so hard to promote, means that some brewers will be bought.
Blue Point issued a post on its website titled, “We’re not going, we’re growing,” and saying “We’ve always focused on our employees, the community, and of course, the beer – and that will not change.” The post also affirmed that the brewery will be staying in Patchogue.
“In all honesty my initial thought on [the] Blue Point sale was ‘Holy Sh*t!'” says John Liegley, founder of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. “My second thought…was no one has contributed more and worked harder to promote Long Island craft beer than Mark and Pete. Their success is well deserved and I congratulate them. I do hope that as brands get absorbed into the AB-InBev world that the investment in thee beer and the brewery is focused on Long Island. Where it all started.”
“We think consolidation like this is inevitable given the continued growth of craft beer around the country,” says Paul Leone, Executive Director of the New York State Brewers Association. “We’re confident that the folks at Blue Point made this deal with the best intentions, they obviously make a quality beer, otherwise this opportunity would never have come to them. It’s really the only way big beer can curb the tide”
“[Mark Burford] is one of the pioneers of craft beer in the New York area,” says Jimmy Carbone, owner of Jimmy’s No. 43, and friend of Burford. “The beer scene is changing, many small regional breweries like Blue Point may need to sell or change. The growth in the number of breweries in the US is primarily brewpubs and [smaller] breweries, but the volume growth is in larger, commercial breweries… Our focus at Jimmy’s No. 43, on Beer Sessions Radio,and with the Good Beer Seal, has been to support and promote the many small – and often new – craft breweries that are opening in the New York region and in other markets. Personally, I’m happy for Mark and hope he is profiting handsomely from this sale.”
“I don’t think it will affect much of the beer scene here locally since the community of breweries has expanded so much and so quickly in the past few years,” says Jeremy Cowan, founder and owner of Shmaltz Brewing. “Though I’m sure it’s a little bittersweet, I assume Mark and Pete are excited about the sale. They worked very hard for many many years to build a great brand and a loyal following. I would think more brand and brewery sales will come up – but with the enormous progress of small breweries across the country, the craft beer world is stronger than ever – and growing! ”
BeerUnion has reached out to several other members of the beer community – including Blue Point – and will be updating as we receive more statements.