The story of the Twitter and then Beer Advocate forum rant from Tony Magee of Lagunitas Brewing aimed at Jim Koch of Boston Beer Company has been drawing a lot of attention, recently. Magee accused Koch and Boston Beer of targeting Lagunitas market share with the release of the new Sam Adams Rebel IPA.
From Time Magazine:
Responses on the Beer Advocate forums have ranged from calling Magee's outrage a "tantrum" and that this is normal competition in a business environment, assuming that Sam Adams kegs aren't sold at a dramatically lower price to steer business owners away from Lagunitas. Others have called into question whether the "craft" label should even apply to Boston Beer Company, given its tremendous size and resources and that Boston Beer is trying to use muscle to gain market share.
Personally, I think Magee is letting fear create keystrokes. Assuming his distributor told him that Sam Adams was trying to take tap handles, Magee should know at this point that that is part of the game. Whether it is Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada or Dogfish Head, all of those businesses want to have the opportunity to sell their beers to customers. Tap handles are a means to do so. Therefore, EVERYONE is ALWAYS targeting each other's tap handles. Why would you want to create a popular beer style and not offer it for sale? Would you hope that consumers would still prefer your competitor's products over yours? YOU WOULDN'T! In hoping Rebel IPA would take tap handles from Lagunitas, Boston Beer is saying that they are proud of what they've brewed and see it as a viable alternative to a very successful brand. Should no brewery brew an IPA for fear that they might encroach on the market of another brewer?
Now, the exception, of course, would be if Sam Adams was offering dastardly incentives to retailers or distributors in order to undercut the competition. So far, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of that. There is simply a successful brewery offering a product similar to one made by another successful brewery and HUNDREDS OF OTHER SUCCESSFUL BREWERIES.
What do you think of the situation? Leave your feedback in the comments below