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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Power List

I get random emails.  Nearly all of them are so inappropriate/lame that I can delete them after seeing the first half of the first sentence in the inbox.  I almost hit delete on this one, but in a fit of caprice decided to click the link instead.
It’s been said here before that "power is the ability to make things happen. It’s authority, strength, muscle, swack, juice." And in the last two years we have identified food industry players — big names and otherwise — who met that description in terms of their ability to affect what and how and where we [drink].
They have these things for every profession--the Oregonian even does it for Portland sports figures--and I always think the same thing: what power?   We'll get to that, but have a look at the beer names (or those that affect beer) on the list first:
2.  The head of your state's alcohol agency.
7.  Carlos Brito, CEO of Anheuser-Busch InBev
8.  Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp
11.  Larry Schwartz, President of Diageo North America
13.  Tom Long, CEO of MillerCoors
18.  Jim Koch, Boston Beer
20.  Charlie Papazian
25.  Debbie Weir, CEO, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
30.  Jason and Todd Alstrom, BeerAdvocate

There are actually some interesting names on that list.  I think CEOs are probably overrated, but obviously the chief at A-B InBev has a lot to do with what we drink.  Liquor boards may have something to do with our access (ask Mississippians), but that's a little lame, too.  But what about some of these others.  Yelp is definitely a major player in food, and I have to think they are a great accelerant to the success of good brewpubs.  Charlie's legacy is craft beer, but his current impact?  Maybe not so much.  Same with MADD--most of their influence is well in the past.  (Though it's interesting.)  I've never been able to assess RateBeer and BeerAdvocate except on one metric--creating furor around buzz beers like Dark Lord.  Do they actually affect consumer choices?  I wonder.

It's not actually a terrible list, especially if you just chuck most of the CEOs.  (For example, Stumptown's Duane Sorenson is on the list, and that's a great call.  Stumptown is the face of third wave coffee.)  Incidentally, there's only one critic, wine maven Robert Parker.  Since Michael Jackson's death, I would have to agree that there's no beer writer with even a fraction of Parker's power to affect purchasing decisions. 

In terms of beer, who'd they miss?


  1. I think Anat Baron turned some heads.

  2. "Charlie's legacy . . . his current impact"; founded [and may still presided over]
    a. Brewers Association
    b. Great American Beer Festival
    c. World Beer Cup

  3. I think it is more interesting how beer creates few or no people of any real influence or even recognition. Other than Koch, none named are the slightest bit recognizable outside a small circle. And he is only because he puts himself in the beer's TV ads.

  4. The focus of this story is wine, but I think it has some beer application.

    The primary buyer of one billion dollars worth of wine thinks it's as much a commodity as toilet paper.

  5. Apparently Annette Alvarez-Peters needs to be on the beverage list since she buys one BILLION in wine for COSTCO.

    Beer application? I think so.

  6. Apparently Annette Alvarez-Peters needs to be on the beverage list since she buys one BILLION in wine for COSTCO.

    Beer application? I think so.

    I can't get this comment to post! Third try