Mr. Koch, Please Shut UP

There are two famous Koch’s in the brewing world, neither related, and both are the most whiny jerk offs in the brewing industry. Today’s post is dedicated to just one of the though, Greg Koch of Stone Brewing. He has annoyed me to the point that I’m writing this open letter that I will never send.

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Dear Mr. Greg “it’s Bud’s fault” Koch

Over the last couple months your name has been pinging all over the radar, and I think it’s gone to your head. You seem to be espousing this view that craft brewers are the schiz, and anyone who doesn’t think so has obviously had a lobotomy. I find this view offensive, silly, and just plain high school cliquish. Please allow me to explain.

Prior to the expansion of your head I only knew you as the CEO of Stone. A brewery that made good beer, but thought much more of itself then most people I know thought of them. Then shortly before Beer Wars was released your name started popping up everywhere, and it was no longer attached to Stone all the time. You were your own person, Greg Koch and not Greg Koch of Stone Brewing. This was no big deal to me as you were an important member of the panel who was there to give a poorly made Micheal Moore style documentary some street cred. But anyone with even a peanut size brain could see that the only thing that movie was made to do was trash everyone except micro brewers, and talk about how great people like you are.

My opinion of you didn’t drop after the movie since that was obviously the direction it was headed. I would have prefered if you tried to bring some level headed discussion to the panel, but I can’t get everything. Then you gave your speech at the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston and shot yourself in the foot. You characterized the people who drink BMC as “dispassionate consumers”, “Wusses”, and said that people who enjoy “fizzy yellow beer” are the kind of people who like mozzarella sticks, white bread, instant coffee, and Kenny G. Really Greg? Do you really think less of someone because they don’t eat gourmet food, drink craft beer, patronize Starbucks, or listen to Count Basie. It takes either a brave man, or a small man to judge a person based on their tastes and habits of consumption.

Let me characterize someone for you. Picture a person sitting in a local cafe. They have a Mac Book in front of them, an iPod on the table, and designer clothes. This person likes to view themselves as a foodie and only eats at the trendy spots in town. They spend their free time listening to local indie music simply because it’s local, and therefore better then anything else. Is this the kind of passionate person that you want drinking craft beer? If so then that’s interesting because the person I described drinks Miller High Life. They won’t touch white bread, instant coffee or listen to Kenny G. But what does what they drink, wear, or eat have to do with what kind of person they are? Why should a pub owner aim for what you call the “passionate consumers” that fit your mold and not be welcoming of all good people?

I’m tired of pubs that cater to your mold. I wish someday to see more pubs with the same diversity you see at the local bar. The way you guys have marketed yourselves is hurting the craft beer industry, but you like the trendy people with money to burn on $5 pints and $3 dollar bombers. Why should someone as passionate as Greg Koch market his beer towards Joe Schmoe? No wonder many blue collar people view craft beer as a white collar drink and prefer to stick to BMC. The big brands are all to happy to tell them we like you the way you are, why should you have to change.

Hopefully brewers like you will wake up one day and realize that not everyone who doesn’t fit your mold is a stupid person unworthy of your time. Hopefully one day you guys will let the consumer decide what they want to drink without getting on your soapbox to tell them they are wrong. Hopefully one day you really will make beer simply because it’s your passion like you say, and not because you have to stick it to the man and those dispassionate consumers. I dare you to walk into a pub and buy a round of Bud for all those “fizzy yellow beer drinkers”.

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23 Responses to “Mr. Koch, Please Shut UP”

  1. Note to self, “STOP ACTING LIKE AN ASS!”

    After some reflection, I recognize that I have also thumbed my nose at “fizzy yellow beer drinkers” from time-to-time (possibly more often than that). I personally don’t like too many macro-lagers, PBR excluded, but that really doesn’t make me any more “cultured,” “trendy,” or smarter than they are. And just because I eat Tillamook Medium Cheddar Cheese and that other guy eats Velveeta, it doesn’t mean he’s beneath me. On a very serious and related note though, who doesn’t like mozzarella sticks?! I mean, it’s cheese AND it’s fried!

    I truly love Northwest ales and craft beers. I love them because they taste good (to me), and because I have a sense of pride that they’re from my community.

    And from now on, I vow to keep my craft-ale-loving arrogance in check, and I hereby resolve to be more respectful of other people’s tastes, and not look like a Greg Koch Ass.

  2. kchophead says:

    I felt the same way when I was watching Beer Wars. I didn’t know much about Stone other than drinking it when I go boarding in CO. I work with a bunch of people who act just like this guy. Mr. I-Am-Better. We had a discussion about BMC after the movie and I seemed to be defending them a little bit because there are a lot of occasions that this beer snob finds himself drinking a lot of light crap (Royals, Chiefs games, pub crawls). If our local Boulevard Beer made a comparable Bud Light I’d choose it just to support local but for now I’ll drink the BMC water just like everyone else. Didn’t Sam from Dogfish Head seem more real than Greg Koch?

  3. Greg Koch says:

    Thanks for the conversation!

    Please understand that in your writing you are layering attributes/attitudes upon me which do not exist. Clearly, it is possible to find fault with the theme “Be Remarkable” and the bullet points of Collaboration Ethics Camaraderie and Passion that I used as the outline for my talk (as evidenced by your missive), and I accept that.

    I had thought that I had picked a couple target subjects that were so over-the-top and humorously indefensible (Kenny G, deep fried mozzarella stix) to illustrate some points, that I was in safe territory on that.

    Clearly, I was in the wrong. ;-]-=

    OK, seriously, I was being encouraging for folks to continue to follow their muse, as that’s when I believe that we do our best work.

    If you as a homebrewer brew beers that you do not personally like or respect, I will pass on trying any. If on the other hand, you are instead brewing beers that reflect your passion, I’d love to try some someday!

    Same goes if you are a commercial brewer. Or cheesemaker. Or baker. Or skateboard maker. Etc. I always get turned on the most by those that are infusing passion and skill to their labors.

    BTW, the Keynote speech will be posted within another week. We’re making sure that the video elements mesh correctly, and trying to fix some sound issues. Folks will be able to come to their own conclusions, for better or worse!

    Cheers and thanks again for the conversation — it gets our brains going and juices flowing, doesn’t it!

    -Greg.

  4. carnevoodoo says:

    Two points, as I want to separate two different things here:

    1. Beer Wars was totally lopsided. That’s ok. It wasn’t for everyone, and even I was annoyed by some of it, and I am pretty much a beer snob.

    2. Greg Koch is a pretty decent guy. He heads up a brewery that is second to none in our county (and really our country), and if you’ve ever come across him, he’s nice. Sure, he’s a little quirky, but I don’t think you can be in the business and have no creativity or eccentricities.

    I think you have to understand one more thing. Marketing. Stone rocketed to where they are because of Arrogant Bastard. Their merch has comments about fizzy yellow beer along with slogans like, “You’re not worthy”, and they even named a beer Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale. I take it as them having a sense of humor about themselves as well as understanding one thing. People eat that shit up. There are so many die hard Stone fans who will buy into that attitude.

    Greg Koch is not selling himself and his brand to the general population. He’s selling his attitude to people who want to feel like they are part of something different. If you don’t buy into that, that’s ok. Stone is still a decent brewery, Greg is still a decent guy, and any publicity is good publicity. I say this as a guy who likes a lot of breweries more than he likes Stone, but still gets it.

    Also, thanks to Greg’s twitter updates for linking me here. Gotta love technology.

  5. “Whiny jerk offs”??? Doesn’t that describe snakry bloggers as well? LOL!!!!!!

    I think this all has less to do with judging people and more that you don’t have to offer these pedestrian choices assuming that it is the only way to appease the masses. Time to take the blinders off.

  6. Jimbo says:

    Obviously you are not passionate about beer, and that is OK. Hopefully you are passionate about something else in your life (maybe your Mac or iPod). If you want to continue drinking Miller High Life, and you are satisfied with that, more power to you. But don’t knock someone who is passionate about producing great beer and raising the bar in the industry. That just makes you seem curmudgeonly.

  7. Egins says:

    I think you might be missing the point Mr. Koch is trying to make. The real thrust of his argument is against customer compliancy, the way most Americans eat and drink anything thrust at us without ever asking, “What are these products made of?” or more importantly, “Are these products good for us?”

    The large adjunct brewers design their beers to be consumed without any thought or reflection, like cows eating grass. To these companies our job as consumers is to ingest as much carbonated alcohol water as possible.

    Mr. Koch is trying to get the message out that we don’t need to be mindless in our consumption. We have a choice between quality, flavorful, artisanaly brewed beers and mass produced, flavorless, beers brewed with cheep ingredients. Sometimes this advocacy of good beers can sound like snobbery, and people get defensive, but just because he is blunt and aggressive about the issues doesn’t mean he is wrong.

  8. mikedashg says:

    Just because you don’t officially send it, doesn’t mean he won’t read it. http://twitter.com/StoneGreg/status/1717639971

    In any event, it would surprise me that a trendy clothes wearing, Apple using foodie would have a pallet for Miller anything. I generally find those who are into that type of thing either don’t like beer (or don’t know they do) OR they like craft brew. The funny thing is, you kind of described Greg Koch a little bit (except for the Miller part) But too each is his own. I don’t know who this person is, but if it’s you, you should try some REAL craft brew. Real craft brew would be seen here: http://beeradvocate.com/top_beers.php I’m betting you’ve had 1, maybe 2 or 3 out of the top 30.

    I’m confused when you say you are tired of craft brew pubs? How many are there to bars that just serve the local bar stuff. You want that kind of diversity without it being craft brew? How would that be? What what they serve? I’m tired of the bars not having anything that caters to craft brew. I went to bar and they proudly displayed 12 bottles of macrolagers. TWELVE! Are they really THAT different from each other? How about some diversity there! That’s what I’m tired of. No diversity everywhere else. Not one ale, not one craft brew.

    Personally, I try and not be the “I’m better then you” beer snob, but it’s REALLY REALLY hard sometimes. Some people just like macrolaggers, I think mostly because that’s what was shoved down there throat by those companies. That’s what they think beer should be like. They grew up with it. Refreshing, watered down, fizzy, not much complexity. That has it’s place I guess. I even know of craft brewers who actually enjoy that kind of stuff. But on a hot day mowing the lawn outside in SoCal. But if it were me, I’d drink a Saison.

  9. [...] Mr. Koch, Please Shut UP « TheWeeklyBrew.com – The Ramblings of a Kitchen Chemist. [...]

  10. djs says:

    It wasn’t Beer Wars that put me over the edge, it was the ‘I am a Craft Brewer’ video. I agree with what your sentiments, but I think you phrased them a little too harshly. I just think it’s like anything else that has a sense of being exclusive, people want to keep it that way. The effort for entry and acceptance in the beer enthusiast network can be too high and alienate potential customers. I think the general approach they have taken fails to widen the audience. I wish I could site the blog post I read where this was said, but I didn’t save the link, but they were preaching to the choir. None of these movies/videos will be seen by anyone outside of the people already so into craft beer/home brewing that it really won’t alienate anyone.

    Be ready for some contrary opinions, you’ve made it to Greg’s Twitter page.

  11. Bob says:

    So let me get this straight, you got on your soapbox to complain about Greg being on his soapbox?

    Enjoy your rice filler fizzy beer.

  12. I find myself in the unlikely position of defending Greg here. He may indeed be a snob and look down on people who like BMC, but then so are all people who live a lifestyle based on “being remarkable.” It comes with the territory.

  13. Rambler says:

    Stone sold their souls to walmart who now carries their beers. Talk about support a local killer…

  14. [...] So, predictably, we’ve started to see some backlash from the I Am a Craft Brewer video (embedded here, in case you missed it). There was [...]

  15. SPRINGER45 says:

    Well I like craft beer, and BMC (God I hate using these beer geek acronyms) and I like cheese sticks. Not so much Kenny G.
    So I am dispassionate consumer? I’ve been called worse.
    At any rate I’d say the Bud marketing machine has nothing on the craft hype machine.
    If nobody drank BMC who would some of you people look down on?
    On a humourous note, I think I would pay a week’s pay to see Greg Koch walk into a few bars I know of and call the BMC drinkers wusses. :)

  16. [...] April 30th I wrote an open letter to Greg Koch in which I accused him of being a “whiny jerk off” amongst other things. I’ll [...]

  17. Jared says:

    I understand I was a little harsh and said some things of Greg that were wrong. While I still stand by the message of my post I do apologize to Greg for some of the things I said.

    http://www.theweeklybrew.com/2009/05/a-clarificationreactionappology/

  18. [...] under Beer News No Comments  Been reading some interesting posts on other blogs lately (here and here*) talking about Greg Koch at Stone Brewing and his efforts to turn more people on to [...]

  19. rich says:

    “Stone sold their souls to walmart who now carries their beers. Talk about support a local killer”

    All bands that sign to record labels are sell outs also! BS

  20. Rick Green says:

    “But what does what they drink, wear, or eat have to do with what kind of person they are?”

    Are you serious? I think you better have a more critical think about how other people would define you as a person — probably no different from how you would define them, e.g. the work they do, the music they listen to, movies they watch, what leisure activities they like, kind of books & magazines they read, what political party they support, the vehicle they own, the pet they have, where they like to travel, etc., etc. It also includes what people wear, eat, and drink.

    I also get a chuckle from the idea that blue collar people think craft beer is a white collar drink. I wrote about the irony of this at http://bcbrews.wordpress.com/2008/07/22/the-working-mans-brew/. It’s time to put this myth to rest. Why do people have to drink light lager all the time and close their eyes to a broad range of other beer styles? This smacks of vaunted ignorance, which is not something to be defending or celebrating. In nature, a monoculture is not a good thing. Neither, do I believe, is it a good thing in society.

  21. Davo says:

    Rick Green has some of the best comments of all that has been written here. But he still misses the point.

    It is ALL marketing. The snob appeal of billions of different kinds of beers turns me OFF. The blue vs white collar thing turns me off. The whole “make a drink easy to drink so people will drink loads of it and market it to [seemingly] old fogies without a life by showing young girls dancing and laughing” thing by big corporations just turns me off.

    And nobody even touched on the big breweries trying to market craft beer lookalikes.

    There is no answer. That’s why I stopped buying beer years ago. Now I’ll still drink commercial beers — so if you want to buy me one . . .

  22. [...] blaiming everyone for their problems and pushing their ideoligies. I remember when he did that to my blog. This time though it seems to have backfired on Greg as the majority aren’t taking his side. [...]

  23. [...] Chitown On Tap: You have a habit of pissing people off. [...]

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