Boston Beer Company v Anchor Brewing Company
It all started when Jim Koch, brewer of the world’s 2nd strongest fermented only beer after Ghost Deer, mocked TNP and STB for being ice-distilled. We decided to respond by brewing a beer stronger than Utopias and Ghost Deer was duly launched 5 weeks ago. We also put together a neat little video, guest-starring someone who may appear similar to Jim but may also just be a generic character from deep in our imagination. Here is the video:
However, it seems jolly old Jim is not nearly as good a sport as our sausage munching freunde at Schorschbrau and has not take our little jest in the spirit in which it was intended. After we launched the video and the beer, he decided to take out his devine wrath on our good friends and business associates at Anchor Brewing Company. Maybe he should have tried to brew a stronger beer instead, granted this is tough if you don’t have your own brewery. Hell, even the Queen herself did not mind her guest appearance in the Sink the Bismarck video blog, maybe she was just flattered that I kissed the picture of her.
His fury at loosing the title, and having a character similar to him appear in our video blog has been manifested in the form of a vindictive and irrational lawsuit against Anchor Brewing Company & a former Sam Adams sales rep combined with a personal attack on BrewDog’s long time, friend, investor and director Keith Greggor.
They are suing a 26 year old sales rep, Judd Hausner and Anchor Brewing Company, because apparently Judd has some ‘trade secrets’ and is breaking a non compete claus which is not even valid under California law (the contract was signed in Boston when Judd was 22 while he was finishing up his last semester at college). Non-compete clauses are also generally not enforcable all over the US for lower level employees, and not at all in California. A lot of the Sam Adams statement is purely delusional, stating Anchor were going to ‘fast track Judd’ into senior management and he reports directly to the owners. Until this kicked off the owners had not even met him. Jim Koch also chose to go straight to the media with his legal action, an unusual move. Anchor acted appropriately and are shocked that in 2011 there are companies still attempting to lock in junior employees through bogus non-competes.
We also took offense of Jim Koch’s public attack on Keith Greggor’s character and questioned his commitment to beer. Many BrewDog shareholder’s have met Keith at our Equity for Punks events and he is as committed to and passionate about craft beer as any other member of the BrewDog team. Keith invested in our craft beer start up, pretty much on pure faith after only having met with us once at 2008 Hamilton's Tavern in San Diego. He leveraged a tiny import company to put a deal together to acquire Anchor Brewing with the full support of Fritz Maytag. With his own house on the line to personally guarantee the Anchor loans needed to avoid the need for professional equity investors, we would say he is pretty committed overall to craft beer overall.
Hey Jim, we are sorry. Lighten up dude. Maybe even have a beer. Punk IPA rocks with a game of darts.
xxxxxx The BrewDog Team
Ps. BrewDog owns 5.25% of Anchor. So if you invest in BrewDog at www.brewdog.com/equityforpunks you will own a part of Anchor too, which is kinda cool.
- “No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and virtue is preserved. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”
― Samuel AdamsBenjamin Franklin16.10.2011
- Sam Adams is terrible and its sad they think they are a true craft brewery. Hope Anchor prevails. MB16.10.2011
- 3rd para, 1st sentence, "losing", not "loosing" (imagine in red pen) JRH16.10.2011
- Jim Koch's record speaks for itself. I have heard in the past Adam Avery and Sam Calagione say that the craft beer industry is 1% assholes and the rest is a happy, collaborative family. I think the 1% refers to Jim Koch.
He's been quoted in the past as telling distributors that they can maximize profits by selling Sam Adams and NOT selling othe craft beers.
He was also quite clearly shown as a pompous windbag and ungracious colleague in the movie 'Beer Wars'
And on top of that, Sam Adams beers are mediocre at best.
Go F yourself Jim!
- Sam Adams left the craft beer business a long time ago, if they were ever even in it.
Go AnchorPeter M14.10.2011
- Sam Adams is just a big con anyway. All made under license....
- Damn autocorrect! I meant TNP and STB Jack14.10.2011
- Truthfully, T-Mobile and DTV taste like garbage. Utopia is to this day the best beer I have ever had. I just drank an 07eye with 4all years if age. It blew my mind. Posting this is lame fir BF. This is petty blogwar crap. Jack14.10.2011
- @ Jim (via BeerAdvocate)
Your statement and actions directly contradict each other buddy.
If people have traditionally dealt with this without litigation, why did you not discuss this with Anchor or with Judd before taking legal action?James, BrewDog14.10.2011
- Jim Kock, Greg Koch....is the American beer scene just full of Kochs? Stewart14.10.2011
- Here's the official reply from Boston Beer Company; Jim asked us to post on his behalf.
To the BeerAdvocate Community:
Unfortunately, Boston Beer was given no choice but to pursue legal avenues against Anchor Brewing and our former employee who was was in violation of a commitment that he made to us. His new employer, Anchor Brewing, violated this agreement when they chose to hire a Boston Beer employee knowing he was not free to take the job offered since he was given our entire sales, marketing and new product plan for 2012 only weeks ago. We take pride in allowing our senior people full access to such materials and in our robust and proprietary training. We feel betrayed when an employee does not adhere to agreements signed in good faith. We have not objected to this employee working for Anchor's spirits business, just their competing beer business and just for a limited time.
Boston Beer has a policy of respecting similar agreements other craft brewers have with their employees and they normally do the same. We don’t poach employees from other craft brewers who are under agreement with their employer. A great respect and collegiality exists in the craft brewing community. The new owners of Anchor Brewing, who just recently acquired the Company after successful careers in the vodka business, may not be fully up to speed on how folks in the craft beer business have, in the past, dealt with this issue without litigation.
-- Jim Koch
Founder & Brewer, Samuel Adamsvia beeradvocate14.10.2011
- I would have mocked TNP and STB not for being ice distilled, but for being rubbish. EmCee14.10.2011
- F*ck Sam Adams
- Ok, thanks for clearing that up guys. BenH14.10.2011
- @BenH - been sold in Sweden ever since?
It was available for 2 hours only at the Stockholm Beer and Whisky show.James, BrewDog14.10.2011
- Hey Ben H,
Ghost Deer hit Edinburgh, Aberdeen and then Glasgow for one night only before going over to Sweden where he was on sale for again one day. He is currently on his way back to Scotland where you may spot him in the future (he is an apirition after all!)
We will always try our best to make sure that the Bars present to you guys all the beers first!
- The worst part about all of this is that ghost beer sat in Edinburgh for 1 day, Glasgow for 1 day and has been getting sold in sweden ever since. When did Sweden become brewdogs priority market? 1000 bottles of abstrakt 7, exclusive brews etc. Look after your own first, no? Bring back ghost deer please. Just stick it in the Edinburgh bar from now on, that'll be fine. BenH14.10.2011
- Awesome that you guys own part of Anchor - another ace reason to invest in Equity for Punks.
- I will never drink another Sam Adams beer again. Pretty mediocre beer at best anyway.
- That sounds pretty lame. Its pretty poor darts to halt a young man or womans (26) career. Boo to Sam Adams. BrandonLeeHicks14.10.2011
- This Jim character certainly lives up to his name.
Is Ghost Dear naturally fermented to 28%? It's been through 6 casks so surely it's picked up a few abv's on the way?Interesting14.10.2011