(Chicago, IL) – It hasn’t been much longer than a year since MillerCoors created Tenth and Blake Beer Company. Last August, execs tapped a new division of the company to focus on those of its brands that play in the ‘better beer’ segment. They include Blue Moon Brewing, Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing, Killian’s and a handful of others.
This year, the brands under the Tenth and Blake umbrella will produce around three million barrels collectively. MillerCoors CEO, Tom Long, recently told the Wall Street Journal that the company plans to grow the division by at least 60% over the next three years. If MillerCoors meets that goal, in 2014, Tenth and Blake will produce five million barrels or nearly half of the combined output of the nation’s 1,800+ craft breweries.
Depending on where you stand, that is either music to your ears or brings visions of doom and gloom.
Opinions of Tenth and Blake vary widely across beer circles. Some see the company as a real threat to ‘craft’. Others…a paper tiger…or a gateway to the category. Most of Tenth and Blake’s customers are most likely oblivious to its existence. Meanwhile, detractors align their views of the division with their views of its creator, MillerCoors. It’s hard to blame them considering the tone at the top has been to drive the light lager agenda and relatively little else for decades.
But what about all those other people at the company?
One of them is Jeff White. White cut his teeth in the business with Boston Beer Company in the early 90s. He departed the company after nearly eighteen years in 2007, leaving his post as Chief Operating Officer behind. White has now been with MillerCoors for nearly three years and is Senior Director of Strategy and Operations for Tenth and Blake.
And then there is Lisa Zimmer. If you are a devoted Twitter user, you may already be familiar with Zimmer as the talkative @zimmerino. She is the Digital and Consumer Outreach Specialist for Tenth and Blake, also having spent nearly three years at MillerCoors.
White and Zimmer, both self-proclaimed beer geeks, are at the forefront of a movement at the company, one that unofficially crystallized shortly after White’s epiphany in 2009.