Skip to main content

Judge brewers by their beer

By Tom Long, Special to CNN
December 21, 2012 -- Updated 1754 GMT (0154 HKT)
People sample beers at Savor, a craft beer show, at the National Building Museum in Washington in June.
People sample beers at Savor, a craft beer show, at the National Building Museum in Washington in June.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • MillerCoors CEO: Small brewers want to exclude large brewers' products in craft category
  • He says his company wants to be judged not by its size, but the quality of its products
  • Tom Long: Company acquired a craft brewery nearly 25 years ago
  • He says the company's craft, import brands operate autonomously

Editor's note: Tom Long is the chief executive officer of MillerCoors. He wrote this column in response to a CNN Opinion piece by Steve Hindy of The Brooklyn Brewery: "Don't let big brewers win beer wars."

(CNN) -- The other day, the industry group representing small brewers issued its latest definition of what qualifies as a "craft" beer. Based on our size, that definition excluded us, even though we brew some of the most popular craft beers in the marketplace.

We respect the fact that some of our fellow brewers would want to differentiate themselves, but we're convinced that the ultimate assessment of our beers will not come from an industry organization, but instead from America's beer drinkers.

We know that no matter what style of beer it is, we will ultimately be judged by the quality of our beers. We like that, because we are confident that the quality of our beers stacks up well versus that of any brewer of any size, anywhere.

Tom Long
Tom Long

Now, because we are best known for brewing some of America's biggest light beers, some people may be skeptical about that claim. We urge those people not to confuse the style of a beer with the quality of the beer. Whether it's a light lager designed to provide the refreshment many American beer drinkers seek, or a vigorously hopped IPA designed to provide the nice bite many other beer drinkers desire, our brewmasters are obsessed with crafting superior-quality beers within each style.

While we may be big, we are still a company of beer people who take great pride in our beer culture and heritage, tracing our roots to two visionary immigrant entrepreneurs who opened breweries in the mid-19th century, Frederick Miller and Adolph Coors.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



We're also proud of our craft heritage. Nearly a quarter century ago, we acquired the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., which was making great beers, but struggling financially like many smaller brewers of that era. Leinie's, as it's affectionately known, was founded in 1867, and we promised we weren't presumptuous enough to tell it how to brew its beers.

We've kept that promise, and the Leinenkugel family -- now on its sixth generation in the business -- is experimenting more than ever with new styles and flavors, including the popular lemonade-flavored Summer Shandy.

Then there's Blue Moon Belgian White. Launched in 1995 by brewmaster Keith Villa, Blue Moon exposed U.S. beer drinkers to Belgian-style ales at a time when they were not widely known. After a quiet start, Blue Moon has gone on to become the best-selling craft beer in the country. In fact, Blue Moon introduces many consumers to craft, opening their eyes to the diversity of beer.

The brewers of Leinie's, Blue Moon and other smaller craft and import beers operate autonomously so they can maintain their own unique personalities and keep experimenting and pushing limits.

As a large brewer, we do not view the emergence of craft beer as a threat, because we know that innovation is essential to the American beer industry. In fact, we appreciate the vital role craft beers play within our industry. And we believe it's good for beer that there are more breweries and more brands available to American beer drinkers than at any other time in U.S. history.

We're determined to continue to play a leading role in that innovation. And whatever style beer you might prefer, all we ask is that you judge us by the quality of the beer in the glass.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Tom Long.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT