Millenials drinking beer

Despite Many Headlines, Millennials Are Not Killing Beer

With all the recent headlines declaring that “Millennials Are Killing the Beer Industry” and “Are Millennials Killing Beer Now?” it’s no small wonder that the internet is in a tizzy about the state of the beer industry. So what’s the skinny? Well, this past week, Goldman Sachs downgraded two beer stocks, Boston Beer and Constellation, based on their performance to date in 2017 as well as citing Nielson data and their own research showing Millennials now prefer wine and spirits to beer. Boston Beer slipped to “sell” from “neutral” and they moved their recommendations on Constellation to “neutral” from “buy.”

Why The Downgrade?

Boston Beer has not had a good couple of years. This year, their shares fell 23% this year alone and Goldman Sachs had this to say, “Despite the Boston Beer Company’s commitment to turn around Sam Adams beer and Angry Orchard cider, we see no improvement in sight and see downside risk to fiscal year 2017 volume guidance.”

Don’t count Ol’ Sam out yet. While this quote was from Monday 7/24, on Friday 7/28, it was reported that Boston Beer has seen a whopping 20% surge in shares based on crushing earnings and revenue expectations in this last quarter. Much of that increase is due to their hard sparkling water and hard ice tea offerings. It was good news for a company who has struggled to stay relevant in a sea of nano-craft breweries offering hyper-local competition.

As for Constellation, it’s unclear as to why they were downgraded. This year, their shares were up 13% (while shares of Boston Beer fell 23% this year), and while they also own Modelo and Corona, they own numerous wine and liquors brands too. So if the reason why they are downgraded is that Millenials are turning to wine and liquor, why would their stock be downgraded? Also, Goldman Sachs lowered its U.S. beer volume forecast and expects sales to decline .7% in 2017, but if they are talking about the whole beer industry, why leave out Big Beer which still sells most of the beer in the United States? In fact, MolsonCoors was mentioned by Market Watch.

“The analyst left shares of Molson Coors Brewing Co. at buy, because “while we see lingering volume risk, undemanding valuation and potential for healthy free cash flow growth warrant a Buy rating with 19% upside, in our view,” said the note.” 

How convenient, but it still doesn’t explain why their beer is more valuable than Constellation’s brands, especially when Constellation has been having a good few years, growth-wise.

Are Millennials Killing Beer?

But let’s get back to the Millennials being the cause of ‘death to beer.’ As much as Goldman Sachs wants you to believe this, it’s just not true. No one is killing anything. Craft beer has seen years of unbridled growth and it’s only natural for this to slow. Furthermore, macro beer sales are down, so the numbers weren’t helped by their huge sway within the beer industry. A recent Gallup poll stated that “Beer Remains the Preferred Alcoholic Beverage in the U.S.” with 40% of Americans who drink alcohol preferring beer, 30% preferring wine and 26% preferring liquor. That’s a pretty comfortable lead and yes, a percentage in any direction can be felt within the industry, but all the hysterics over beer dying need to stop. Furthermore, based on this quote from Goldman Sachs, Millennials wouldn’t be to blame anyway, it would be Gen Xers,

“We view the shift in penetration and consumption trends as driven by a shift in preferences in the younger cohorts,” added Zhuo. “The youngest demographic (<35 year olds) overall penetration rates are not increasing. The 35-44 year old cohort shows a shift away from Beer to Wine & Spirits.”

So, because this youngest demographic (Millennials) show no increase in market penetration, they are killing beer? According to their own data, Gen Xers are the ones shifting to wine and spirits, not Millennials. The whole issue is confusing and the media has had a field day with the idea that Goldman Sachs put out, which is Millennials are to blame for the slow in sales. So before anyone throws up their hands at the state of the beer industry, they need to stop, take a long sip of a cold beer, and breath. Beer is here to stay and while there is always going to be movement in both directions in any industry, nothing is being killed and certainly not by Millennials.



monkey paw and coronado

Monkey See, Monkey Brew: CBC Acquires Monkey Paw Brewing

Lately, the world of craft beer seems to to be in a constant state of change. Whether that movement is the opening or closing of breweries, brewery expansions, outright sales or acquisitions, or bringing on investors, the world of craft beer has been experiencing nearly unbridled growth the last 15 years. With more than 130 craft breweries in operation in San Diego right now, and a proposed 150 by the end of 2017, San Diego craft beer is definitely moving and shaking.

This week, the San Diego craft beer community was surprised and (mostly) delighted at the news that fan fav, Monkey Paw Brewing, is being acquired by Coronado Brewing Company. Monkey Paw is situated in the up-and-coming neighborhood of East Village in a space that used to be the diviest of San Diego dive bars, The Jewel Box. Keeping the same easy-going, down and dirty vibe, Monkey Paw quickly became known for their inventive beers, often collaborating with breweries from San Diego and beyond.

Why the Monkey Business?

Coronado Brewing had a number of reasons why they wanted to get with Monkey Paw. These two breweries are vastly different beasts. Monkey Paw brewed almost 700 bbls last year while CBC brewed just under 40,000. CBC has been around since 1996 making itself one of the “founding fathers” of the SD craft beer community, while Monkey Paw has been around for 6 years (to be fair, this is still a long time when compared with the majority of San Diego craft breweries). When asked, CBC’s chief operation officer, Brandon Richards, had this to say to the U-T about the reasons for acquiring Monkey Paw. “They do a lot of different, unique beers that we don’t usually do…And I think their brand reaches younger, millennial drinkers.”

In the CBC press release, Richards when on to say,“We’re looking forward to partnering with Scot Blair and his team; they have built a tremendous brand from the ground up, and their beers are incredibly well-respected. We can’t wait to share their brand with an expanded audience.”

Is This Just Another Sell Out?

Scot Blair, owner of Monkey Paw, South Park Brewing Co., and Hamiltons Pub, has been an ardent supporter of independent beer and an outspoken voice against the encroachment of Big Beer into the world of craft. In fact, they were one of the breweries that took part in brewing 11 Barrel IPA, which was an indie collab beer brewed in reaction to AB InBev owned 10 Barrel moving into the East Village within eyeshot of Monkey Paw. There were all sorts of comments flying around San Diego beer facebook groups with most being in support of the sale:

  • “Monkey Paw beer needs to be shared with the rest of the world! This is a huge deal and I couldn’t be happier”
  • It’s a win win for everyone, more Monkey Paw for all of us…”
  • “Stoked on the moves Coronado Brewing is making recently. Healthy, local growth with a rad team behind it maintaining, if not exceeding, the local standard of #SDBeer.”

On the flip-side, there were a few comments asking what the difference between this sale and an indie brewery selling to AB InBev, for example.

  • “The most vocal voice of Independent beer just sold a brewery. Yes, it is not to a macro but still ironic, don’t you think?”
  • If they drop the Philly Cheesesteak from the menu, they’re dead💀 to me

This last sentiment was expressed by a number of people because Monkey Paw cheesesteaks are bonkers and probably some of the best ones anywhere in SD. They were quickly assured by CBC employees in the group that other than updated kitchen equipment and expanded production and distribution, daily life at Monkey Paw will remain the same.

There is a difference when it comes to the breweries selling and it comes from both sides of the deal. First, CBC, while being one of the larger breweries in San Diego, is a far cry from any of the Big Three in big beer (AB InBev, MillerCoors and Heineken). CBC doesn’t practice the predatory sales/marketing tactics involving pay-to-play and they sure aren’t vertically integrating the supply chain like it’s no one’s business. On the same note, Monkey Paw was looking to grow and after looking at all the options, Blair chose the one that best satisfied his needs of expanded production and distribution and most likely, cash-dollars, while still allowing him most of the creative control over the brand. His quote in the press release explains the situation pretty well:

“Coronado’s commitment to our brand is why this is such an exciting time for our team. Nick [our head brewer] and I will continue to develop our beers, brew the beers, and grow the brand in a way that keeps the integrity and quality of what folks have come to expect from Monkey Paw. The only difference is now we can scale our operation, utilizing all the experience and resources of CBC’s amazing family.”

In this day and age in the craft beer world, growth is tough and can take on many different forms depending on the needs and goals of a brewery. When one respected craft brewer sells to another respected craft brewer, both brands are sure to face some changes, but they are likely positive changes that won’t impact the rest of the craft beer community negatively in the same way indie breweries selling to Big Beer does. Either way, we can’t wait to see what new things are to come for both Monkey Paw and Coronado Brewing and offer a big “Cheers!” to both companies in their new venture.

cans of thorn brewing beer

Thorn Candemonium


SAN DIEGO, CA (July 14, 2017) – Thorn Brewing Co. is excited to officially announce Thorn beer is available in cans throughout San Diego County. Thorn is now brewing in their new Barrio Logan location which not only houses a brand new brew system but also a tasting room and canning line where they are packaging their four most popular beers in 12-oz cans; Relay IPA, Barrio Baja-Style Lager, Foreplay Belgian Blonde, and Rock the Pale Ale. CEO and co-founder, Dennis O’Connor said, “We are excited to finally have packaged product in cans so that Thorn beer will be more widely available throughout San Diego.”

Thorn Brewing also recently signed on with Stone Distributing to further expand their reach within San Diego County and beyond. “Our relationship with Stone is a huge step forward in sharing our product with more people, as well,” O’Connor explains. By partnering with Stone, Thorn hopes to have a greater impact in the craft beer community while bringing their beer to a wider audience. Thorn has always been known for their passion and commitment when it comes to craft beer. “I love being part of the craft beer movement,” Brewmaster and co-founder, Eric O’Connor said, “Helping to start and grow a small independent brewery like Thorn is one of the best things I could have ever hoped to do with my life. I count myself to be very fortunate.”

Look for their cans to be popping up at bottle shops, liquor stores and grocery outlets around San Diego and if you don’t see them at your favorite store, make sure to let them know you want Thorn beer.

Local • Independent • Beer

Where To Find Us

Woot, Woot! Now you just need to know where to get our cans, right? Here’s a working list of all the stores around San Diego where you can buy our four core beers in cans. This list will be changing weekly, so keep checking back to see if your favorite spot is on here…

Ace Liquor – Mission Beach
Adams Avenue Liquor – University Heights
Alexander’s – North Park
Alpine Liquor – Alpine
Alta Dena Drive In Market – Clairemont
Apple Tree Market – Newport Ave (SD)
Ashur Liquor – Imperial Beach
Avenue Liquor – Coronado
Balboa Liquor – Oceanside
Baron’s Marketplace – North Park
Baron’s Marketplace – Point Loma
Baron’s Marketplace-RB*
Bay Ho Liquor – Bay Park
Belvedere Liquor – Santee
Best Beverage Catering – San Diego
Bev Mo #11 – Encinitas*
Bev Mo #110 – Escondido
Bev Mo #117 – Mira Mesa
Bev Mo #12 – Carmel Mountain
Bev Mo #126 – Point Loma
Bev Mo #137 – Chula Vista
Bev Mo #145 – Santee
Bev Mo #155 – Mission Valley (North)
Bev Mo #171 – Vista
Bev Mo #185 – Rancho San Diego
Bev Mo #36 – Mission Valley
Bev Mo #50 – La Jolla
Bev Mo #59 – Oceanside
Bev Mo #74 – Solana Beach
Bev Mo #84 – Lake Forest
Beverage City – La Mesa
Beverages 4 Less – Santee
Big E Wine & Liquor – La Mesa
Bine & Vine Bottle Shop – Normal Heights
Bluefoot Bar & Lounge – North Park
Bobar Liquor #5 – Chula Vista
Bodega Wine & Spirits – University City
Bottle Rack Liquor – La Mesa
Bottlecraft – Liberty Station
Bottlecraft – Little Italy
Bottlecraft – North Park
Bottlecraft – Solana Beach
Boulevard Liquor – North Park
Brandywine Liquor & Deli – Chula Vista
California Liquor – South Park
Campus Liquor – College
Carmel Valley Liquor
Carmel Valley Market
Cheers Liquor & Delicatessen – La Mesa
Chip’s Liquor – Pacific Beach
Chris’ Liquor & Deli – Ocean Beach
Chris’ Market – North Park
City Liquor House – Bankers Hill
Clem’s Bottle House – Kensington
Clown Market – Tierrasanta
Coastal Convenience Food – Oceanside
Conway’s Irish Pub – Carmel Mountain
Corey’s Liquor – Normal Heights
Corner Liquor – Normal Heights
Corner Liquor & Food Store – Oceanside
Cottage Drive In Liquor – North Park
Country Wine & Liquor *
Country Wine & Spirits
Country Wine & Spirits – Alpine
Country Wine & Spirits – Tierrasanta
Crest Balboa Liquor & Deli
Criscolas Liquor
Del Cerro Fine Wine & Spirits *
Del Mesa Food & Liquor
Dick’s Liquor
Distillers Outlet Liquor
Don’s Liquor
Eastlake Country Club
Eastlake Tavern & Bowl
Eddie’s Super Market DBA Divine Wine
El Norte Shell & Full Service Car Wash
Excalibur Liquor & Deli
Falcon Liquor – Mission Hills
Farmer and the Seahorse
Farmer’s Market #2
Farr Better Spirits
Farr Better Spirits #2
Fast Break Food & More
Fiesta Liquor & Deli
First & Ivy Market
Fletcher Hills Bottle Shop
Food Bowl Market
Frazier Farms Market – Vista
Fuller’s Liquor & Delicatessen
Garden Kitchen – San Diego
Gaslamp Tavern
Golden Eagle Market
Golden Hills Liquor
Goldfish Point Cafe
Grapes and Hops – San Diego
H2O Sushi – Hillcrest
Handy Liquor
Heidi’s Liquor & Deli
Helix Liquor
HFF – Banker’s Hill Bar – 101-1-522
Holiday House Liquor – Bonita
Holiday Market & Liquor
House of Wine & Spirits
Hub Liquor
Idaho Market
Iowa Meat Farms
Jensen’s Finest Foods – Point Loma
Jimbo’s Liquor – Genesse Avenue
Jimbo’s Liquor – Mira Mesa
Jimbo’s Naturally – 4S Ranch
Jimbo’s Naturally – Carlsbad
Jimbo’s Naturally – Del Mar
Jimbo’s Naturally – Horton Plaza
Jug Liquor
Junior Liquor
Kearny Mesa Market
Keg & Bottle – Rancho San Diego #9
Keg & Bottle Liquor – Clairemont Mesa
Keg & Bottle Liquor – College Area*
Keg & Bottle Liquor – Lemon Grove
Keg N Bottle – La Jolla
Kona Kai Resort
Krisp Foods
Kwik Stop
La Mesa Wine & Spirits
La Vista Liquor
Lake Murray Liquor*
Lakes Market & Deli
Lefty’s Chicago Pizzeria – MH
Legoland Waterpark
Leucadia Liquor
Liquor Land – MiraMesa
Litickers Liquor & Deli
Little Sam’s
Magic Market
Mar Vista Liquor
Mesa Liquor & Wine Co.
Mike’s Liquor & Market
Mike’s Liquor #2 Discount Liquor
Milano’s Liquor
Miller’s Market
Mira Mesa Wine & Spirits
Mission Square Market
Mona Lisa Italian Foods
Monroe’s Market – North Park
Naz Liquor
Newport Farms Market
OB Quick Stop Mart
Old Poway Market
Pacific Liquor House
Palm Springs Market
Pappy’s Market
Par Grocery Liquor
Par Liquor – Waring Road
Park Blvd. Liquor & Deli
Parkside Foods
Parkway Market
Party House Liquor – La Mesa
PB Express Market
Piccadilly Marketplace
Plaza Wine & Spirits
Pola Market
Poseidon Project
Presidio Market
Primo Food – Oceanside
Primo Food – Santos
Quality Market
Qwik Corner – Oceanside
Qwik Corner – Pacific Beach
Qwik Korner Deli & Grocery – Solana
Ranch House Liquor
Ray’s Liquor Center
Red & White Market
Red House Pizza
Riviera Liquor
Royal Food Mart
Royal Palm Spirits
Rushing Liquor & Deli
Ryan Bros Coffee and Wine Bistro – SD
Sabuku Sushi
Salt Creek Golf Course
San Diego Wine & Spirits
San Diego Wine Co.
Santa Fe Liquor
Santee Discount Market
Sea Trader Liquor & Deli
Searsucker – Downtown
Servall Market
Sierra Market & Liquor – La Mesa
Slick’s Liquor
Sogno Divino*
Sorrento Wine & Spirits
South Bay Liquor
Spirits of St. Germain – La Jolla
Spitz Restaurant – San Diego
Sprouts – Chula Vista
Sprouts – Eastlake #299
Stadium Market
Star Market – Santee
Starlight Market
Streetcar Merchants
Sunset Mini Mart
Super Junior Market (Krisp)
Texas Liquor – Carlsbad
The Bottle House
The Boulevard Wine & Spirits
The Casbah
The Heart & Trotter
The Liquor Box
The Loma Club
The Market Hall – San Diego
The Olive Tree Market Place
The Wine Bank
Third Avenue Alehouse
Urge Gastropub – Rancho Bernardo
Valley Farms Market
Vic’s La Fiesta Liquors
Village Square Liquor
Village Wine & Spirits Shop – Encinitas
Vista Wine & Spirits
Wag’s Liquor
Wally’s Marketplace
West Cedar Market
Whiskey Girl


 We couldn’t have made it this far without all of the hard work from our brewers, staff and the rest of the #thorntribe. We are incredibly grateful that our customers have made the choice to drink our beer over the last 5 years, especially with so much great beer here in San Diego. We are looking forward to the next steps and to it being even easier to get our beers around the SD County and beyond. Cheers!
modern times sells

Modern Times Sells…

Fridays have gotten really interesting lately when it comes to beer news. Whether it’s the Wicked Weed deal being announced on a Friday or the more recent The High End video response to the Brewers Association’s new independence logo that was released this past Friday, it seems like big news flows at the start to the weekend.

Today was no different when beloved San Diego brewery, Modern Times, announced the sale of the brewery. Jacob McKean, CEO, and founder of Modern Times, has always been a staunch indie beer supporter and is never afraid to speak out against big beer and why independence matters. That’s why my heart stopped when I read the teasing headline today from Marketwatch that Modern Times sold, but I was just as quickly appeased when it became clear that they sold not to big beer or an investment group, but they sold to their employees. Mckean explained why they went this route for growth in the Modern Times blog:

It ticked every box for us: achieving an outstanding return for our investors, maintaining our independence, rewarding the employees who have made our success possible, enhancing the collaborative culture that’s so vital to the company, and creating a sustainable ownership structure that will replace me when I’m ready to move on. And there’s a massive tax benefit, too, which means more money for growth and efficiency improvements. Oh, and we formed a new bank relationship as part of this deal that gives us access to vastly more financing than we had before. No other options came close to offering all of that.

While Modern Times is the first employee-owned CA brewery, it now joins the ranks of Harpoon, Switchback, New Belgium, Odell, Deschutes, and Left Hand Brewing who all set up an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) with their employees. In the Modern Times deal, employees immediately get 30% in stock in the company with a plan to make that percentage 100%, in time.

According to Market Watch:

Employees get individual shares, but have to spend a certain number of years with the brewery before receiving full, vested rights to those shares. Once that happens, however, they can use those shares to retain a voting interest in the company’s future, or simply cash out through the company or an outside buyer.

While selling to your employees is one way to “keep it in the family,” it doesn’t necessarily mean that the brewery will never sell. In fact, Full Sail Brewing, from Oregon, set up an ESOP and the employees decided to sell to a private equity firm in 2015 and return to regular employee status. When researching an ESOP as a viable means of expansion, Mckean spoke with many of the other breweries who had been through this process and believes that Modern Times won’t have the same issues that Full Sail did.

What I learned from Full Sail is that if the employees are not passionate about what the company makes and how it operates, they won’t see themselves as having a future there. Even a 100% ESOP does not have to offer any meaningful governance or management role to employees, but the consequence of doing that is that the company’s owners aren’t invested in the company’s direction. That’s a formula for a bad culture, which can lead to a sale. We plan to do the opposite.

What Are The Benefits?

While ESOPs aren’t a viable option for every brewery, there are some clear benefits to investing in your employees.

  1. Employee Buy-In/Attraction/Retention

Many craft brewery employees already feel a lot of ownership in their brewery’s brand and future. Most breweries start out as incredibly small businesses and the growth happens because of the day in, day out hard work that the small number of employees put into the business. By giving these employees a piece of the pie, it not only created great incentive to do right by the company, but it gives them a say in how the company is run. This is attractive to both employees and prospective employees and can create an incredibly strong company culture of commitment.

  1. Maintaining Independence

With so many options for growth out there, it’s refreshing to see a company not sell out to Big Beer or a large private equity firm. In fact, Mckean told Market Watch that he felt it was important to set an example for up-and-coming breweries about the “true meaning of independence, collaboration, and business ethics.” That’s called putting your money where your mouth is. It makes you wonder about all of the benefits extolled by formerly independent breweries (their newfound ability to grow, gain capital and reach new markets) and how these goals could have been met through different means.

  1. Controllable Liquidity

This is an interesting benefit. Basically, it means that the rest of the investors (now the employees) have a greater ability to retain ownership of the brewery if there is an investor (or investors) that want to cash out. This allows for greater flexibility for people who want out while maintaining greater stability for the people who want to stay in.

In the end, we are stoked for the Modern Times employees and from what Mckean says, it sounds like he’s pretty stoked on his employees too:

The people who work at Modern Times are our single most significant competitive advantage. Investing in motivating them, retaining them, and attracting more people like them is the smartest strategic play we could make.  

Hopefully, other breweries who are looking to grow will take the time to really look at all the options for growth and see if an ESOP would be right for them before they go the sell-out route.

Cheers to Modern Times!