Pete Coors said in-fighting risked putting the beer industry on a "slippery slope"

Pete Coors said in-fighting risked putting the beer industry on a "slippery slope"

Molson Coors chairman Pete Coors has accused craft trade group the Brewers Association of driving a wedge through the industry by unfairly attacking so-called 'Big Beer'.

In a letter to the BA published on the MillerCoors website, Coors, the great-grandson of brewing magnate Adolph Coors, said the trade group was purposefully branding companies such as Molson Coors as the enemy of craft beer in the fight to win market share in the competitive US market. He said this attempt to pit one part of the industry against another "does a great disservice to the entire beer value chain".

Addressing the BA leadership, Coors continued: "You must know that it is insulting to those of us who don't meet the clever criteria of your self-proclaimed definition of 'craft brewer.' This approach prioritises insults and division over unity for a beverage that has been used to unify and celebrate together for generations."

Coors said he was a paying member of the Brewers Association but was concerned by "ongoing vitriol" in its publication, The New Brewer.

"The brewing industry is not exclusively made up of 'large, multinational brewers' or 'big brewers' or 'faux craft brewers'," Coors said. "It is not exclusively made up of 'mass-produced' beer, craft brewers or home brewers. Rather, the beer industry is a combination of large and small brewers, retailers, distributors and suppliers who are passionate about their craft and committed to their businesses."

He added that industry in-fighting is a "slippery slope that does not end well for our industry". 

"We have enough competition inside the beer business and outside it with wine, spirits and, increasingly, marijuana," Coors continued.

The chairman ended the letter by calling on the BA to "keep your independent seal, your pride and your zeal for brewing". 

"But let's be united as an industry. There are other enemies we all must fight together."

The Brewers Association has attempted to separate its membership from more mainstream brewers by stipulating rules for companies wishing to identify as craft. Last year, it also launched a seal to help consumers identify Brewers Association members.

Asked for a response to Coors' comments, BA head Bob Pease said: "The Brewers Association has the utmost respect for Pete and the Coors family and we would look forward to sitting down with Pete over a beer and discussing his concerns. We look forward to doing so in a thoughtful and respectful fashion. That said, the Brewers Association will continue to work to differentiate and promote and protect small and independent craft brewers in the marketplace and we look forward to working with all of our members, voting and non-voting alike on building the beverage of beer in the United States."

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