(Halethorpe, MD) – Yesterday’s discussion around Clipper City (Heavy Seas Beer) Founder, Hugh Sisson, and his remarks on new brewers and gypsy brewers drew quite a bit of attention. BeerPulse just received the following statement from Clipper City HQ clarifying those remarks.
I would like to respond to the discussions regarding my recent interview published in the Beer Advocate. I was asked what I thought about the rapid growth of the industry – and my response reflects my opinion of some potential pitfalls on the horizon.
My comment about “gypsy” brewers was referring to people entering this business who are more opportunists and enthusiasts, rather than serious beer business folks. There were almost 600 new brewers in the last year and a half, and I am told there are another 1200 in the pipe line over the next year. That is simply unsustainable growth (in my opinion), and many of these folks will be unprepared for the rigors of the industry from both a business plan and a capital perspective. I expect that many of them will fail and then move onto something else. It is those folks that I was referring to when I used the term “gypsy”. If it is the wrong term, then I apologize for the confusion.
Companies like Stillwater and Pretty Things (to name a few) don’t fall into that category for me, and I am sorry if that is the way it was interpreted. These are clearly passionate, professional organizations who are invested and developing successful businesses. They are an asset to the category. Whether a company actually makes its own beer, or produces in another’s facility, really isn’t the determining factor – the business approach is.
As someone who lived through the market correction of the late 90s I am just really concerned about this wildly exuberant growth in the number of players. I believe there are a good number of folks who are jumping into this industry with little more than a label and a smile. That concerns me – and should concern all of us for whom brewing is our profession. Craft beer is one of the few business success stories over the last few years, so a potential rash of business failures could potentially tarnish our category. I lived through it in the 90’s – I am really hopeful we don’t have to live through it again.
Heavy Seas Beer