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Off-Centered Leadership by Sam Calagione

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Chapter 9Off-Centered CapitalPartnering for the Future

The craft brewing community is in the midst of a dramatic, turbulent transformation. We're still in a relatively early stage of this transition (think of it as the eerie quiet that precedes a violent summer thunderstorm), but I see the storm clouds gathering. As I described in Chapter 3, the beer business today is very different from when Dogfish Head started or even from the first craft marketplace shakeout in the late 1990s. What I didn't quite expect, though, was how fast the structure of and competitive-set within the beer industry would be changing, even during the course of writing this book.

Greg Koch, who founded Stone Brewing in 1996 and is one of the leaders of our industry, likens this zeitgeist moment to one of those colorful, packed-to-the-gills ancient buses you see in developing countries. With so many craft brewers now on the scene—on average, two new breweries are opening every day—the market is becoming oversaturated with supply. Greg describes the situation this way: “I've got a seat inside this bouncy bus, with a lot of other great brewers. But there's also many, many others precariously hanging out the door or perched on the roof. And the bus is about to hit a huge, jolting bump in the road!”

Another of my craft brothers, Larry Bell of Bell's Brewery in Michigan, which began selling beer in 1985, says, “Right now we are in the middle of the end of the beginning of the craft beer renaissance.” What I ...

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