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When Three Rich Kids Open a Brewery

Photo courtesy of Forbes

This isn’t my usual beer beat, but I came across this story the other day and haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. It seems the best way to clear my brain of it it so write about it.

The story, in case you haven’t clicked on the link yet, is a Forbes article profiling a new California brewery called Barrels & Sons. What makes the brewery interesting is that it is founded by Carlo Mondavi, Jacob Busch and Elliott Taylor – all heirs to prominent and wealthy food and beverage families. Mondavi is of the famous wine-making Mondavis. Taylor is the son of a successful restauranteur and Busch, as the name gives away, is the latest in the line of beer-making Buschs (or at least until Inbev bought them out and pushed them out of the company).

The profile has been making the social media rounds (which is how I found it) and has received much skewering from many. I am not a pile-on kind of guy, so have no intention of going for the low hanging fruit of mocking three rich (and GQ-esque handsome) men creating a brewery-plaything.

However, two more substantive elements of the story have bothered me since reading it.

First is the arrogance of the men. They aren’t just setting out to make excellent beer for consumers to enjoy. That is too hoi polloi for them. They set their sights much, much higher, as seen by this quote from the article:

“We want to focus, keep small and yield a beer capable of sitting with the world’s finest,” says Mondavi. “This vision will take over a decade to reach. The world’s finest wineries and breweries are not measured in years or even decades, but more in generations.  With that in mind, and in the near future, we would love to see Sons in the top restaurants of the world and be poured alongside the greatest foods and enjoyed. Our goals for Sons are to put all of our energy, resources and time into creating one classic beer. We don’t want to make ten beers but rather just one beer at the highest level.

You see, pleasing average beer drinkers is for all those other breweries. These boys want to impress the best chefs and restaurateurs in the world. Plus, they have only been open less than a year and already they are deigning to make one of the best beer in the world. Wow, that is some fast learning.

Second is that they reveal a stunning lack of awareness of beer and how it is made and no respect for traditional styles or history. Others have made this point but it bears repeating. The most damning quote is this one:

4 comments to When Three Rich Kids Open a Brewery

  • These guys make me sick, but I see it as only helping the cause of local craft beer. I think that increasingly consumers are seeing through big dollar companies like this and realize that they are completely driven by marketing and profit, and have no hint of artisanship or passion about beer. These breweries serve as a great contrast to the local craft brewery, where folks can directly talk to the brewers and other people behind the business, experiencing their passion and humanity first hand. Craft beer is about community to many people, and companies like Barrels & Sons will will always be an interloper.

  • Owen

    Just another gateway beer. “Oh, you like ‘Three Sons’? Here, try this….”

  • Style over substance? Next thing you know there will be an actor for president! Oh, wait…

  • Don

    When I started reading I had hopes for something cool incorporating Mondavi wine barrels or other great beer that 3 dudes with a lot of cash can do. 30 day lager. pretty common in craft beer, our lager is at least 30 and our Pilsner is usually 40.

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