(Providence, RI) – Caught an interesting exchange involving Narragansett Brewing president, Mark Hellendrung, in the comments section of Craft Beer Cellar’s latest post regarding bringing back Narragansett to shelves. The company decided to pull beers from breweries recently highlighted by the Brewers Association as not being craft breweries but felt that Narragansett qualified as a worthy exception.
Contract brewing does carry a stigma in the industry. Jimmy Carbone, publican of Jimmy’s No. 43, even said on a recent episode of his podcast, Beer Sessions Radio, that whether a beer is contract-brewed is a factor for him in deciding to carry it. He noted that the proliferation of new breweries and beers has necessitated being more selective.
Below is the exchange in which Hellendrung defends contract brewing.
Comment: Yeah, but how much of Narragansett’s beer is actually being brewed by themselves these days? 90% of their sales are lager and light beer, the majority of it contract brewed by Genesee Brewing Company/North American Breweries, which of course is owned by Cervecería Costa Rica S. A., a subsidiary of Florida Ice & Farm Co., which in turn is 25% owned by Heineken. Genesee/NAB also makes J.W. Dundee, Seagram’s Escapes, Mike’s Hard lemonade. Doesn’t sound very “craft” to me. Just because a brewery really wants to be craft doesn’t mean it is.
Hellendrung: I completely respect your opinion and would like to offer two other thoughts on the topic of “contract brewing.” First, there are some fabulous beers out that “contract brew” either all of there beer or some packages (like cans or bombers) because they don’t have the equipment. But just because you use someone else’s equipment, does that really diminish the quality of your beer or the passion that you put into it? Second, we “contract brewed” our Imperial IPA at Buzzard’s Bay Brewery in Westport, MA, as an example of other breweries we work with. This helps pay their bills, keeps their employees working, and is a hell of a lot of fun. I think those are good things.
To hear more from Hellendrung, check out the Narragansett interview with Bloomberg.