The Craft Beer Revolution – Steve Hindy

There are more than 2,500 craft breweries in the USA and they have built a market share of more than 10% over the past 20 years in a fight with the world’s biggest brewers. 

Steve Hindy, co-founder of the Brooklyn Brewery, tells the story of how small entrepreneurs have achieved success in his new book, The Craft Beer Revolution.

This is a great read and of interest to any business person with ambition. A former journalist, Hindy gathers facts and presents them in a readable and informative way.

This book shows how politicians move markets, why lobbyists matter, why trade associations matter, why trade magazines matter, why market definitions matter and most importantly the need to simply get out and meet other businesspeople like you in your industry.

Hindy may be writing about beer and companies in America but the parallels with business life for today’s independent convenience stores are compelling. Read his fourth chapter, about 11 entrepreneurs who set up breweries in 1988 – and what happened next – and you will find
portraits of almost any business you can name and the opportunities and challenges they faced.

Success meant a battle for distribution and for public trust. In particular Hindy picks out some great retail stories such as:

“Fritz Maytag has talked about the importance of his first and best customer, Fred Kuh, at the Old Spaghetti Factory, the man who encouraged Maytag to get involved in the Anchor Brewing Company.

“It would be wrong to overlook the importance of early believers like Kuh, the people who saw the value and dynamism of the microbrewing movement long before most others. I know I had some retailers whose support was essential to my success. One was Joe Marino Sr, owner of American Beer Distributing Company, a strange retailer-wholesaler hybrid that is unique in New York. Joe’s father started the company in 1945. When I started peddling Brooklyn Lager, Joe ordered a pallet of my beer on day one. He stacked it in the front of his supermarket style store and he pushed it. He believed in what we were doing. He told me that the Budweiser distributor in Brooklyn, Joe Lomuscio, once came into his store and sniffed, “Why do you have that s**t displayed at the front?” Marina replied, “I am selling a pallet a week of that s**t, Joe!”

In similar style, Hindy tells the story of Jim Koch, whose Samuel Adams brand took on Heineken and Becks with a TV advertising campaign that the big brewers hated so much that their backlash made Koch’s beer famous.

And he tells the story of August Busch III’s demand that his wholesalers – “the most highly rated distribution network in the US” – give his products a “100% share of mind”. This meant many small brewers overnight lost access to their markets. However, they still won.

Hindy explains how the US government’s decision to tax beer to pay for the Civil War lead to the setting up of lobbyists and his later chapters on lobbying are fascinating. 

All the world is in this book. It even describes some great beers and the three in one rule: a great pint makes you want to drink three more! 

This book will whet your thirst for business!


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