Reading yet another article on contract brewing coupled with my experience of operating within the industry prompted me to say a few words on the topic predominately due to the perception and views of contract brewing being, on the most part, negative, misleading and unfounded. For the record we, at Savour, don’t own a physical brewery and never have. We brew all of our beers at Compass Brewery. They are however my recipes, my thoughts, my point of view, my interpretations of the style and are intrinsically Savour.
Most negative views on contract brewing tend to revolve around the issue of ‘not having skin in the game’. Us contract brewers are somehow less committed, less credible, less determined and our beers are inferior to those who own the physical bricks and mortar. All of which is utter bullshit and here’s why.
When I started out I didn’t have and couldn’t get the money (sob story saved for another time!) to buy any amount of stainless steel and, as the old saying goes, when you don’t have money you are forced to think. Luckily there are many ways to skin a cat and I chose to have our beer contract brewed elsewhere. Having ploughed a good deal of my life savings into this venture you only have to ask my wife about what ‘skin’ I/we have in the game and she will quite happily tell you what I have committed, sacrificed and put on the line to pursue something I am deeply passionate about. The beers might not be to your liking but please don’t insult me by questioning my determination or commitment to our beer or the beer industry. Everyone has different availability to capital but one thing is for sure; more money does not make for better beer.
Looking outside the beer industry you only have to go as far as companies like Innocent who have a fantastic brand, fantastic business and fantastic product yet they have never made a smoothie in house. The practice of outsourcing is common place in the food and drinks industry so why is it any different for beer? The answer is that it’s not.
More worrying perhaps is the perception that contract brewed beer is in some way inferior or of a lower quality than beer made by a brewer in their own brewery. Again I see this as attack on those who are perceived to be just dipping their toes and a lack of commitment makes for an inferior product. See my point above for the answer to that one. I believe our beers are as good as any others out there and I stand behind every single bottle that goes the door. They might not be to everyone’s taste and that’s absolutely fine but do not for one minute imply they are inferior in any way because I wasn’t fortunate enough to buy the bricks and mortar. I have always been transparent about where our beer is made and don’t pretend to be something we are not. We have a great product, a great story and particular point of view which I feel has a place in the world.
There will always be a small minority of people who try and make a quick buck out of a growing industry and for some; contract brewing is a way of doing just that. For the rest of us though, it provides us with a way of getting a great product to market. With all the information so readily at our fingertips these days it’s very easy to spot the bullshitters. Look at the websites, read the stories and most importantly TASTE the beer. Then make your mind up.