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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Another view on Dominion's purges

I mentioned in an earlier post that there were other facets to the story of the sale of Old Dominion Brewing. Here's one such alternate view (taken from a post to DC-Beer, a web group of good beer lovers in the Washington DC/Baltimore MD area.)

Date: Mon, 19 Feb 2007 07:07:00 -0500
From: "Dean T. Lake"
Subject: RE: [DC-Beer] Big Changes at Old Dominion

I have heard from many of you directly about this recent turn of events, but have decided to respond first in this public forum.

It is completely within the rights of anyone to choose their products based on what they deem a moral position. It is certainly a right to choose products based on personal loyalty. To that end, I would like to make a few points which may be relevant to this discussion. While it is no doubt a personal tragedy to lose one's job in any scenario, it is important to consider the remaining 90 plus percent of employees.

Taking the information in the original post, we can tell by subtraction most Dominion employees remain. The company that is apparently buying the assets of the rapidly declining Old Dominion Brewing Company seems to have hired the vast majority of active brewers. There remain nothing but hard-working and experienced brewers with a tremendous love for, and appreciation of, great brewing and great brews. In my experience there is not a brewer there who hasn't personally developed a brew of distinction.

Further, it may be of interest to many to know just who precisely this new VP of Brewing Operations is: Scott Zetterstrom. Scott had a long and successful time with Old Dominion from about 1992 to about 2002. He started at the bottom and worked his way up to Brewmaster. All the while, along side other early notable brewers like John Mallet (currently running Bell's in Kalamazoo) and Ron Barchet (of Victory fame) improved the operations, equipment, and procedures at Old Dominion to brew first class, award wining brews. Those were the days when Millennium, Tuppers' Hop Pocket Ale and Pils, and many other timeless brews were developed.
When Scott left Old Dominion, it was, in my opinion, a significant loss.

Every last one of the brewers in Ashburn right now is dedicated to brewing great beer. You should expect great beer from them. While I have no idea what business decisions the future will bring, I can tell you that if any brewers anywhere deserve loyalty and respect, these guys do.

Dean Lake
(ODBC 1995-2003)
I know and respect Dean Lake. He is currently the head brewer for the Sterling, Virginia location of Sweetwater Tavern, a brewpub. Prior to that he was the brewmaster for and an investor in Thoroughbreds, a brewpub in Leesburg (which has since been sold and is now called Vintage 50). And, of course, before that, he was employed at Old Dominion, where among other things, he was in charge of Quality Control. I would concur with Dean's opinion on Scott Zetterstrom.

Considering that Terry Fife had been part of an earlier group bidding to purchase the brewery, it was logical to expect that the new owners might assume divided loyalties upon his part. That being said, I still believe that the harsh manner in which the firings were handled was unnecessary.

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