As a craft brewer, Koch is especially miffed: "Craft brewers are creative. We don't follow trends -- we create them. We specifically went against the mass-homogenized, corporatized business model…. When that very empire, the multinational conglomerate, starts giving the impression to unsuspecting consumers that they're a part of our world, of course that's offensive.This is a thorny subject, isn't it? I have no particular dog in the fight. There are good and bad things about big breweries and good and bad things about small breweries. Small breweries tend to be more interesting, and their beer does, too--but that's not a given, and it's certainly not intrinsic to size. And when you have a guy like Greg Koch standing in for the consumer, you elide one very important fact: he's selling beer. Promoting craft beer is a way of promoting his beer. These things are not coincidental.
In response to those that say that it doesn't matter who makes a beer, Koch says: "Did the Milli Vanilli scandal matter? Why were people outraged? The music that people had enjoyed didn't change when it was discovered that an unknown singer was doing the singing. But people made clear that the truth is important and they don't like being duped."
If the Brewers Association and beer geeks have made a mistake, it's in muddying the water between beer and brewery. It is gospel among certain segments that small is always good, big always bad. The problem is, lots of small breweries make terrible beer, and a few big ones make spectacular beer. But because folks like the Brewers Association (also far from a neutral party) promote this paradigm, many are willing to sign on. I would propose a different theory:
The brewery tracks and beer tracks must be separated. There are lots of reasons to support small breweries and to castigate (as I have done two days running) big breweries, but we shouldn't be fooled that it is identical to beer quality. Indeed, while it's important to out faux craft--big breweries only hide their connection to their "craft" brands to hoodwink consumers--there's something very good about the trend. Good beer is winning. Big breweries are making more characterful beer because that's the direction the market's headed.
Koch says, correctly "If you want to listen to Milli Vanilli., I suppose that's a choice you get to make. Just know that you're making that choice." True. But you should also be aware that when Greg Koch is saying this, he's holding open his coat and showing you CDs of Nirvana. Caveat emptor.