Monday, June 01, 2009

MillerCoors: Above Par, and Proactive

There's news out of Georgia that a batch of Coors Light beer brewed there is not quite right.

MillerCoors has recalled a batch of Coors Light in the Southeastern United States after taste tests at the company's Georgia brewery found the beer to be subpar.

MillerCoors, which will begin moving into its new Chicago headquarters this month, last week began pulling the beer from its distribution system and from retailers. "We sampled it and realized it wasn't up to standards," said Pete Marino, a spokesman for MillerCoors.

He didn't immediately know how much beer was recalled, or if the recall had been completed. But the batch involved only Coors Light brewed at the firm's Albany, Ga., brewery.

Beer giant recalls batch of Coors Light in Southeastern U.S.
June 1, 2009

Some in the Blogo-Twito-sphere have responded with snarky commentary: How could anyone tell the difference? How much worse could Coors Light possibly be?

But let's be adult here.

MillerCoors made the proper and courageous business decision. As much as I might not care for the flavor (or lack thereof) in Coors Light and other N.A.I.L.s, I admire the decision the company took. Whatever might be wrong with the beer —and it could just be a small thing— MillerCoors discovered it and promptly dealt with it in the full light of public disclosure.

Finding flaws is a sign of a robust quality control program, if a failure at an earlier point. Would that more American businesses police themselves rather than having the government demand a recall.

The amount of money MillerCoors might lose —ingredients, labor, packaging, transportation costs, recall cost— will be in no manner non-trivial. MillerCoors is to be commended for exercising good business practices.

An attempt to pass the beer through the network —with even minor flaws— might have been very tempting. But the results could have been much more damaging.

Consider the sad saga and swift collapse of Schlitz Brewing in the 1970s. Or consider more recent —and opposite— history, when Boston Beer discovered glass shards in some of its bottled beers. Despite being the fault of its glass supplier, Boston Beer dealt with the situation rapidly and publicly.

Any brewer worth her brewing salts will tell you: let she whose beer has been without fault or infection throw the first bottle.
  • SAB/Miller and Molson/Coors merged their US operations in July of 2008.
  • Obviously, not all Coors is brewed in Golden, Colorado.

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