Mar 26, 2017
A few years ago on vacation on Long Island, I stumbled across a few local beers that caught my attention—Toasted Lager and Rastafa Rye were two of them, both beers from Blue Point. After some searching, we found the brewery a road just a short walk from the center of a sleepy town. It was closed that day, so I didn’t get to visit, but the image of that building—a sort of repurposed gas station with an old school dive bar for a tap room—stuck with me. Shortly after, I started seeing the growth of Toasted Lager as close as Michigan, and the Bluepoint story started to become regional. That little brewery on Long Island had contracted their Lager in upstate New York, like so many growing brands on the east coast. And it was about this time that AB InBev took notice as well, acquiring the brewery in a deal that was largely ignored compared to the uproar that came with some of their other acquisitions. Who was Blue Point? And why did AB want to buy them? Those questions were the common refrain. I’ll admit, other than the regional advantage, it seemed like a curious choice to me at the time, too. But watching the brand evolve since the acquisition, some themes emerge. The coastal story is more prominent. The connection to the local culinary culture is there. And of course, they had a unique Lager that was already scaling up and reaching new markets. Now? They’re distributing to Chicago for the first time. In all that change, Blue Point brought on a new brewmaster, a guy who came up through the St. Louis Budweiser brewery, a trained engineer who found his passion for beer. When the opportunity opened up for a role in one of AB's craft breweries, he leapt at the chance. It’s a career story that can only exist in 2017 with America’s talent pool starting to move back and forth from big and little breweries within the same ownership structure, as each seek out a particular expertise. Whether it be engineering or cultural, both work to define innovation for themselves, and as some talent graduates, along with opportunities for scaling up or down, your focus as a brewer becomes valuable. Interesting times.