Craft Beer Capitalism in Asheville
Besides the beautiful mountain scenery, Asheville is known for its temperate climate and conscientious citizenship. But, of course, the weather is not pleasant every day, nor is every community organization and business operating with integrity. Capitalism, by its nature, can bring out the worst in us, getting lost in pursuit of financial gain, while neglecting moral servitude.
The Asheville Brewers Alliance (ABA) is an example of well intentions, by forming an alliance “for the betterment of the community”, gone awry. Bringing in well over 6 figures annually through membership fees and festivals, there is little or close to nothing to show, for what it returns in service. Their greatest value provided is getting a link on their popular website, and how it can improve a member’s search engine results significantly, due to the link. Ironically, finding breweries that are linked back to the ABA website, proudly showing their affiliation, are hard to come by.
The interim Executive Director of the ABA is Mike Rangel, an owner of Asheville Brewing Company. Yet, nowhere on the Asheville Brewing Company website can you find an affiliation to the ABA. Same goes for the President of the Board, chaired by Joe Rowland, an owner of Nantahala Brewing Company. Again, the Nantahala website has no link or mention of the ABA, anywhere. Eventually, moving on down the chain of command, the Vice President of the ABA, Brandi Hillman, an owner of Hillman Beer, does proudly link to the ABA from Hillman’s website (as of 1/17/2019).
Dig Local, a small media company in Asheville, claims to promote local business only. Their website states, “Dig Local ONLY features LOCAL, no franchises.” Therefore, the very local, father-son owned and managed Casual Pint in South Asheville, does not qualify for their services. Whereas, Catawba Brewing, out of Morganton, North Carolina, with several locations and expanding East, is considered local to Asheville, by Dig Local. The Pyatt family proudly owns Carolina craft breweries Catawba and Palmetto, and with their brand of conscious capitalism and community investment, we can only hope they will one day have locations all across the country.
Both the Asheville Brewers Alliance and Dig Local have worked closely with the community to raise money and awareness for important causes. However, the conscientious citizens of Asheville deserve to know if they will take the money, over standing true to principals they use for branding – local and community. There seems to be a lacking of transparency, which is not very Craft Beer or Asheville of them.