Alabama Boycotts Five Colorado Craft Breweries

Free the Hops – “a grassroots, non-profit organization whose mission is to help bring the highest quality beers in the world to Alabama” – has initiated a boycott on all products distributed by Anheuser-Busch in their home state. Their justification for the boycott is the alleged efforts A-B is taking against their moves to “modernize” the alcohol laws in the state, and to “remove the crippling restrictions which prevent new breweries and brewpubs from opening.”

Why should we Coloradans care about this? Some of our favorite local craft beers are distributed by A-B:

  • Avery
  • Boulder
  • Durango
  • Great Divide
  • Tommyknocker

The full list of brands they are boycotting is available here.

My personal take is that I understand the frustration of people in Alabama with their antiquated laws, but I think boycotting craft brewers for using a resource they could never afford to set up on their own is the wrong way to go about it.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments.

About Nick Nunns


Nick loves two things above all others: Beer and heavy metal. He's the owner and brewer at the soon-to-open TRVE Brewing Company. If you get him drunk enough, he will probably raise a toast to a Norse god.

  • Chris

    It is not a boycott of craft beer, it is a boycott of a distributor. I personally love Great Divide and Avery in particular, and hate that this is happening, but I completely understand the necessity. Hopefully it will be effective in resolving the issue, and the impact on the craft breweries that are affected will be minimal.

  • dredful

    Living in CO, I hate to see this happen, but craft brewers can’t have it both ways.

    They are happy to use a another business to make a lot more money then they could without, while not wanting any negative impacts from the association. That is the same as a BP gas station owner complaining that people aren’t buying gas at the station because of the oil spill.

    Unfortunately, business relationships/partnerships are not one way based on your convenience.

  • Lance

    I understand what they are trying to do. What percentage of beer sales in the state are from craft beer? How many Kilt Lifters are sold at Talladega on race day? You want to show your disapproval, put down the Budweiser and pick up a Titan IPA or a Maharaja.

  • Jlo

    Not many AB Distribuotors are actually owned by AB / InBev. They are basically franchises, which are very valuable / profitable because they sell AB products first – market share. Just a guess, could be boycotting the wrong entity. An organized boycott of AB/InBev specific products would send a stronger message.

    • John

      Agreed.

  • chase

    who’s up for a little smokey & the bandit remake? load up a truck with GDBC and Avery to take to the people of Alabama.

    • Rachel of Cyberia

      Great idea! I’ll start growing a mustache right away.

    • Joey

      Let me know how I can help! I will buy all I can carry and then some. I weep at this boycott, but we just want our rights!

  • Jamie

    The distributor is making money everytime someone buys ANY of the beer they distribute. That money is being used to fight laws that are beneficial to craft beer growth. The breweries should be upset with the distributors, not the organization trying to better our state’s beer laws.

  • Drew

    Those folks in Alabama aren’t boycotting the Colorado breweries but their distributor. Essentially their distributor is working against them by fighting against these changes. At a glance it seems that the Free The Hops legislation will only HELP craft breweries. Instead of lash out at the Free the Hops people we should all be supporting them and the breweries should be calling their distributors to knock it off.

  • Ben

    We Alabamaians love the brews from Great Divide, et al… What we don’t love is being told one thing and being shown another. This is not the first time Birmingham Bud has screwed us over. Hopefully, this will all be over soon and Birmingham Bud can again enjoy their sales of craft beer.

  • http://cobeerandfood.com will

    It is a completely just manner to try and hit the bottom line of the distributor.

    Protests always have collateral damage, but the 70+ year old laws need to be revised, in all states.

  • Kyle

    It appears that the law in question would allow non-brewpub breweries to sell on-premises. I’m not sure about the other four, but Great Divide has been having trouble meeting demand anyway, and I’m sure they can respect the benefits of breweries being able to sell on-premises.

    As an aside, it’s not all of Alabama doing the boycott, it’s events put on by the organization pushing the law.

  • Rich

    Just an FYI, this is the second time FTH has boycotted a local A-B distributor. If FTH had not done it the first time to bring them to the table and stop their efforts to shut down their original bill, Alabama still would not have those five breweries to this day. And, yes. Many of us love beers from those and other Colorado breweries. Avery is one of my favorite breweries bar none. And Great Divide Hercules is one of my definite go-to beers. And these brewers truly believe in craft beer and beer culture, so it completely sucks that they get caught in the crossfire here. But, realistically, what other weapons does a grassroots non-profit have in its arsenal? Word of mouth. Press. Choice. A boycott is a message. FTH’s current bills – just like their successful gourmet beer bill two years ago – will improve beer culture, help the economy, help small business, and ultimately benefit smaller brewers everywhere and EVEN help the very distributor that seeks to stop their progress.

    • Drew

      Well put sir.

      • Rich

        Thanks, Drew. Believe me, if it were known by those breweries just how much of their products I personally have purchased – both before and after they were available in Alabama, sometimes driving three hours or more to obtain them – there would be statues of me in Denver and Boulder at the very least. And quite possibly a framed picture of me on Adam Avery’s office wall. I was ecstatic when we finally got Avery. (And I will be even more ecstatic when we can get rid of that silly 16oz container limit so I can get Avery’s imperial bombers without having to travel.) We LOVE Colorado beers here (Did I mention Mojo Rising? Sometimes, when cut, I have been known to bleed that blessed substance.), so it’s a very unfortunate thing for us as well that they happen to be distributed by the folks seeking to halt the progress of beer culture in Alabama.

  • Chip

    Rich is spot on – it’s what you don’t see behind closed doors that keeps both Alabama and Mississippi from being able to enjoy the same quality craft beer that the rest of the country takes for granted. A-B is widely known for lobbying, and they don’t mind donating considerably to politicians in these two states to keep more competition out. We are their last stronghold, and they will fight/pay to keep it that way.

  • Pingback: Controversial Alabama boycott affects craft breweries distributed by Anheuser-Busch | Beernews.org

  • dee

    The title of this article is very misleading. Trust me, FTH has no intent to harm Colorado’s fine craft breweries. This is strictly an AB distro issue. AB distros in this state have continually undermined and downright opposed FTH’s efforts from the get go. I think it’s a shame that Avery, Great Divide, and other great micros have chosen to join up with an distro organization who wants nothing more than to see craft beer go away. I’m a former Denver resident and absolutely love Avery and Great Divide in particular. Luckily I live about 20 minutes south of the Tennessee state line and can purchase Avery and GD there. Well, Avery is leaving Tennessee, but for now. At any rate, I hope more craft breweries considering aligning themselves with Alabama’s AB distro network will think twice about the implications of signing on with the protectors of the status quo.

    • Rich

      Ditto that. Very sorry to see Avery leave Tennessee, as I can’t remember the last time I bought Avery in my home state of Alabama as all of the imperials are still prohibited. Now the nearest drive will be Atlanta.

      • dee

        And there is an major point I think those outside Alabama are missing. Can we get Maharaja, Reverend, Czar, etc in a 22 oz bottle? Noooop. We’re trying to change that and AB distros (ironically who carry the Avery brand in this state) are paying consdiderable $$ to fight our efforts to carry those products in-state. We hope breweries like Avery and Great Divide and even our own in-state Back Forty Brewing can (all carried by AB distros) will benefit for this hopeful short-term boycott and will put pressure on the AB distro network in Alabama to stop their fight against bringing Alabama into the 21st century. I truly love Avery and Great Divide and will likely go out of my way this weekend to buy their products…in Tennessee.

  • Joey

    We love CO beers and I adore great divide. it is my go to beer and always in my fridge. We want the same privaleges you in colorado have in our state.

    Please understand! We’re fighting against the distributor. I myself still go to georgia to Buy Avery and Great Divide!

    But I will do everything I can to starve local AB into submission!

  • ant

    As bad as this is for Colorado craft beers sold in Alabama,this is going to kill the new Alabama Back-forty brewery which right now only sells it’s Naked Pig pale ale and it’s silver medal winning Truck Stop honey brown in Alabama.Back-forty has been a great supporter of FTH and now FTH has told people to boycott their beer. Great move,, kill a friend to get to your enemy !

  • Rich

    Here’s a fantastic article that explains the matter a little more in depth: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/04/free_the_hops_calls_for_boycot_1.html

  • Rich
  • Pingback: Free the Hops stops the boycott | Denver off the Wagon