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Friday, October 14, 2016

NEWS: The Devil Bought Northern Brewer

The rumor has been swirling but it has been confirmed on Northern Brewer's company hisory page. See it by clicking here (last paragraph). AB InBev got a foot in the door of homebrewing. Hell, they kicked down the door. ZX Ventures is a venture capitalist leg of the crappy beer brewing goliath of the industry. Via ZX Ventures, AB InBev snatched up the premier homebrew supply house. Northern Brewer made a big move when they bought out Midwest a few years back. As beer lovers, we are used to seeing the brewing giants step into the craft scene. They have been collecting craft breweries and meddling in distribution for a while now.

What does this acquisition mean for Northern Brewer?According to Todd Jackson of Northern Brewer we won't be seeing anything different except for improvements.

What does this mean for home brewing?
Probably not much. I foresee the homebrew crowd boycotting Northern Brewer for a little while but it will pass. The company has too much to offer to ignore them for too long.

How does this affect me as a home brewer?
It won't. I don't buy from them anyways. When I have purchased ingredients and equipment from them I haven't been impressed with their shipping times or prices. I prefer Adventures In HomebrewMoreBeer, Great Fermentations, and HomeBrewSupply. They are all affiliates of this site but I use them personally. That is why I reached out to set up the affiliation.

What do I, as a brewer, want to see from Northern Brewer in the future?
The first thing I would like to see is improved shipping times for their flat-rate program. It irks me to see my order processing for 4 days before being shipped. MoreBeer, and the others, typically ship my orders same-day or the next day. I would also like to see Northern Brewer come out with some quality but affordable hardware, similar to what Blichmann has done with their Anvil line. The final, and most important, improvement I would like to see would be a custom recipe program. Great Fermentations allows me to build a custom grain bill and hop bill down to fractions of weight. I love that; in my hometown, we don't have a true homebrew shop that will do that for us.

What will make me completely turn my back on Northern Brewer after the buyout?
We don't know how much money ZX Ventures is throwing into Northern Brewer buy it may be lots. It may be enough to buy up entire supplies of ingredients such as high-demand hops. AB InBev and Miller/Coors have been know to do this in order to make life hard for craft breweries. What's stopping them from doing the same thing to the other home brew retailers?

I think it is important to note that I don't abandon beer I like just because a mega-corporation buys out the brewery that produces it. Terrapin was recently bought out but I still drink Hi-5. It's just good beer and I like it. Ballast Point was just purchased for a BILLION dollars. Much of the craft beer world turned their backs on Ballast Point, or at least claimed the were going to. The folks at Ballast Point make great beer and they made ALOTTA money because of it. Good for them. I don;t care to let business dealings steer my beer selections. If I like it I will drink it. All of that being said, If ZX Ventures don't screw up Northern Brewer and they fix some of the issues I have with them I will be happy to purchase brewing items from Northern Brewer. For now, I will stick to buying from MoreBeer, Great Fermentations, HomeBrewSupply, and a few others.

Good luck Northern Brewer! Most of us will see this move as partnering with the devil. Prove us wrong.

Might I suggest some music to help you process this news?