Friday, February 09, 2007

Sale of Old Dominion - update

Terry Fife, Marketing Director, Old Dominion

The sale of Old Dominion Brewery to Anheuser-Busch and Fordham Brewing may be final - if not yet publicly announced.(After so many false starts, may is an essential modifier.)

In an earlier post - Say It Ain't So, Jerry! - I came out somewhat strongly against the sale. But let's examine this a bit further. As a direct competitor (I'm Virginia Territory Manager for Clipper City Brewing Company), I should be both wary and optimistic about the sale.

Anheuser-Busch has deep pockets, with which, after purchasing Old Dominion, they would be able to infuse a lot of money into the brewery - on advertising, on incentives, on capital improvements, on quality control and assurance. A-B can spend so much more than Clipper City can for itself, or Old Dominion could without the sale, or any craft brewery could.

But I can also be cautiously sanguine about the sale. The fact that Old Dominion would now, de facto if not de jure (since Fordham would actually be the 51% owner), be an Anheuser-Busch property might create consumer backlash. Would local beer lovers really wish to drink a beer from the behemoth they love to disparage?

But, then again, as a beer lover (and removing my Clipper City cap), shouldn't I desire the sale? If it does occur, Old Dominion might regain the wherewithal - financially and strategically - and the enthusiasm to be a leader in the craft beer movement, as it once was.

A wild card in all this is Fordham Brewing. As beer writer Lew Bryson has remarked, and as have had others who are associated with the local beer business, why Fordham? Other than its three pubs, the company has not been much of a player - to date. We shall see.

Earlier posts:
Say it Ain't So, Jerry!
Old Dominion Festival update
Old Dominion Brewing Company sold [not! 2006.03.08]
My first rumor mongering (2005.09)

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