• Gerard Walen

    Interesting subject. I’ve been thinking about it lately because of a project I’m working on in Florida. Is a company that is headquartered in Florida but contract brews in another state considered a “Florida brewery?” What about one that contracts its production to another brewery in the same state?  Would either be considered a separate brewery in a listing of a state’s brewery?

    • http://frommymellin.com/ Seth Mellin

      Interesting points Gerard. I find that a brewery should only be able to brew where they say they are. I am will now make one such brewery known. Sixpoint has recently increased production. They used to contract brew with Greenpoint in Brooklyn to subsidize their own operations in Red Hook, Brooklyn. When they started canning and increased production they moved the contract brewing to some place in Philadelphia (or so that is what I am told by reliable sources) yet the cans and packaging still promote that it is brewed in Brooklyn, NY. Now I am sure they are operating within their legal rights but to me its dishonest.

      • Gerard Walen

        That’s another sticky point, when a brewer creates beer at another brewery because they no longer have the production capacity at the original site. That’s actually quite common among macros and micros alike. Sam Adams has a brewery in Ohio, Yuengling has a plant in Tampa, and Kona is also brewed god knows where.
        I would think that, as long as the company maintains production at its original home, it remains of that city i.e. Brooklyn Brewery is still a Brooklyn brewery, even if some of its production happens off premise. Otherwise, it might blow up our heads trying to sort it out.

        • http://frommymellin.com/ Seth Mellin

          True it might but I bring up the New Glarus example. If you are truly about the craft then you either remain small and brew at capacity instead of expanding/contracting for increased distribution. I feel when some of these micro/macros start doing that it no longer becomes about the beer and instead the focus is changed to the all mighty dollar.

  • http://absolutlyfit.blogspot.com Laura

    Does contract brewing just mean that the brewery is under contract by someone else to make a certain quantity, and gets paid regardless of the quality?

    • http://frommymellin.com/ Seth Mellin

      Contract brewing means another facility is brewing your beers, with your recipe for you. They have to keep quality to a certain degree but overall the beers are different slightly from when being made at the main facility.

      • http://absolutlyfit.blogspot.com Laura

        Got it, thanks! Told you I drink a lot of beer but don’t necessarily know a lot about the brewing process :) I’d love to hear examples of contract breweries, but understand that you don’t want to call them out on the blog… so hopefully we’ll meet up for drinks sometime soon! Any chance you’re working next Thurs night?

  • Alison

    Anything that’s locally made (whether food or beer) is ALWAYS better than anything contracted out.

  • http://twitter.com/BeltwayBrewCo Beltway Brewing Co.

    There also needs to be a distinction made between “contract” brewing and “partner” brewing. Those terms are often used interchangeably.  A partner brewing arrangement is when a “host” brewery allows a “tenant” brewer come and produce their beer on the host’s system.  A lot of arrangements that we casually refer to as “contract brewers” are often closer to a partnership.
    Either way, to issue a blanket statement that contract brewing is “good” or “bad” is not fair since there is a huge range of differing arrangements out there.  Some arrangements, like the ones where some marketing guy has an idea for some quirky flavored malt beverage that he just needs some brewery to produce for him, I would categorize as “bad” for the craft beer movement.  But the arrangement where a truly brilliant homebrewer, that doesn’t happen to have a million bucks in the bank to build their own brewery, contracts an existing brewery with excess capacity to produce his or her beer so he/she can get it to market when they otherwise wouldn’t have the means…  now that’s great!

    • http://frommymellin.com/ Seth Mellin

      Those are all valid points. A true distinction does need to be made between “contract” and “partner/tenant” brewing since there are some great “tenant” breweries where their brewmaster is just using another breweries equipment and that is fine with me.

      I am not trying to say all “contract” is bad but if you just send a recipe off to another place to be brewed for you by their staff and you don’t have a person you picked to be the brewer for it, I question the passion that will be put into that beer.

      As for your point about a marketing guy and a homebrewer I have to 100% agree with you on that.

      • http://twitter.com/BeltwayBrewCo Beltway Brewing Co.

        I definitely think it is fair to question the passion put into a beer where the contract-ee may not be involved in the brewing at all.  That’s why the contract-or (host brewery) should be looked at, as well.  Is it a food production facility that cranks out energy drinks, sodas and sometimes beer, all when they’re not too busy with their own brands?  Turning all control of your beer to someone like that sounds VERY risky.  
        I just hate to see when a consumer’s opinion of a beer immediately turns sour when they find out it’s “contract brewed” due to the vast amount of scenarios (mentioned above) that could be going on.  People need to not worry about labels so much and 1) consider each beer/brewery on a case by case basis and 2) appreciate what they’re drinking on its individual merits.  With all the new brands emerging today, if it’s not a consistently quality brew, it won’t last anyway.