Symbiosis. Not just a cool word...
Being raised in a Church of Christ household taught me a good number of things. I won't bore you with all the details of the good and bad but one thing that I did come away with as an adult is understanding the value in forming partnerships that benefit everyone involved. Some in my childhood would likely refer to this as the golden rule and others would probably quote scripture. But for myself, growing up with a fairly scientific mind I preferred to called it symbiosis. A mutually beneficial relationship is, to me, the core to any good value proposition. Anyone who produces a thing for a living knows this all too well. As much as some people might like to believe that they are the sole source of their own success, my position is that none of us will ever succeed in life without forging symbiotic relationships. Nothing any of us in the craft beer world create is of purely our own volition. The greatest ideas are only as good as the team involved in making them. And many times this team is far beyond just the folks on your payroll. We rely on farmers, manufacturers and wholesalers, to name a few. And I firmly believe that in our industry, and many others, strong relationships build strong companies.
Since we opened Hops & Grain Brewing in 2011 we have relied on a whole host of partnerships to get to where we are today. I'll be the first to admit that we haven't always been as good of a partner as we could and we've plenty of folks that we work with who also haven't held up their end of the partnership. We've learned a lot and continue to learn a lot. I've learned a lot about the TX beer industry and I can say that I value strong partnerships now more than ever. I spent countless hours working with our TX Craft Brewers Guild over the past 6 years to try and understand, and hopefully positively influence the regulatory climate in our state. I'm fascinated and very frustrated by the way our legislative system works. I'm even more fascinated and frustrated by how our three tier system works. For those that aren't up to speed on my position on the matter you can browse through this angry rant.
One of the most important but often tenuous relationships that many breweries in TX deal with is that of our wholesale partners. We have 3 great TX wholesale partners that we work with in Austin and Houston between Capitol/Wright Distributing, Faust Distributing and Houston Distribution Company. But keep in mind that these 3 partnership enable us to distribute our beer in a fairly small portion of the state. To put this in perspective, we do not sell our beer in San Antonio, Waco or Temple, all towns within 100 miles of the brewery. Why we don't distribute our beer in those cities is for another post entirely. For now I'm going to attempt to stay on point.
Over the past 8 weeks we've been working closely with the team at Crooked Stave Artisan Distributors (here forward referred to as CSA) to put together a plan and agreement to begin selling our beer in the great state of Colorado. I found my love and interest in craft beer in Colorado while living there in the early 2000's. I fell in love with the culture of beer in Boulder and Ft. Collins while pursuing a life as a full time racing triathlete. I found a love for beer because of the way it fostered community and the way that it seemed to transcend cultural and political differences. Beer was always simple to me. Not necessarily simple to make but rather a simple piece of building relationships with my neighbors. Beer is still this to me and as our company grows I find myself striving harder than ever to impact the communities that I love and care about. We focus on environmental stewardship and community engagement to achieve this and I couldn't be prouder of the team that we have built. As a company we promote a healthy lifestyle full of outdoor activity and being a responsible citizen of this great planet that we inhabit. We also focus incredibly hard on the quality of our product and bringing innovative methods to our brewery to continually make our beer better and more relevant to our community.
This is not to say that we won't ever distribute our beer in TX cities like Dallas, Ft. Worth, San Antonio or El Paso, just not until we have the ability to negotiate with wholesalers in those areas on our own terms. And unfortunately due to the stifling franchise laws currently existing in TX as well as an obnoxiously greedy wholesaler, we don't have that negotiating freedom. But we are a growing company with a great team that wants to see us continue to grow.
And it's important to me that we focus our growth not only on places that we feel relevant but also places that we desire to be a part of the community. And Colorado is the highest on my list of those places! For those of you in town during GABF you may have noticed a few of our beers around town. The team at CSA knocked it out of the park with our first shipment and we look forward to continuing to grow our presence across the front range and beyond.
Hops & Grain recently celebrated the official day that we first made beer in our brewery 6 years ago. If you would have told me then that I'd be traveling to Colorado to sell beer I'd have told you that you were nuts. But that's the great thing about entrepreneurship, if someone would have told you what it would be like, you likely wouldn't have done it to begin with.
Onward and upward!