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at the crossroads of
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May 2017

Media Minefield

By | CEO Thoughts | No Comments

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down and update our blog. A lot has happened since November. The last time I posted, we had been open a mere three weeks. Sadly, we are still dealing with some lingering issues from that post that I wish had passed—for example our custom made, bi-fold door is still not complete. Despite some amazing effort from Studium design/build on the custom door, we are opting for a more traditional overhead model. Should be installed in June.

We have expanded from six to ten of our beers on-tap in the tasting room, plus some house made cocktails. Though we didn’t get our beers out to liquor stores by 1 November, due to some tragic yeast problems, we ARE distributing. Our beers are available in over 90 liquor stores and 40 bars and restaurants. Speaking of liquor stores, I wanted to address a piece KSN did on us.

Here is the link and video…

Local breweries see opportunity in new Kansas beer law

Usually I’m happy to do news stories. It is an opportunity to engage with the public and to help shape the beer industry. I take these opportunities very seriously, but I learned a harsh lesson with this piece.  I should have known better. I taught English for seven years, and I should have asked what the true thesis of the piece was. I should have clarified what supporting point my interview was going to serve.  Their main question was “How is the new law going to affect local breweries?”

WE ARE NOT CELEBRATING!!

The whole uncork Kansas topic is a polarizing issue. Having lived all over the nation, and overseas, I personally believe that Kansas has archaic liquor laws. This was further evident to me as I developed my business plan and traversed the byzantine and seemingly trivial regulations that govern the “sinful” business of beer. Regardless of my personal opinion, the fact of the matter is that many hard-working people have built their livelihoods within the current system, and changing this law will have a grave effect on many of their businesses.

When KSN asked me to share my thoughts I thought it was a great chance to highlight how complex the issue is, and to show my support for the small, local, business owners who would be affected by the pending changes, and who are currently supporting APB by selling our beer. What KSN ended up airing was clearly edited together to present their own take on the issue and they omitted most of my comments addressing the depth and complexity of the issue. After every one of the quotes they used they cut my sentences and edited out the “…BUT here is the other side of the issue.” Below are three points that I tried to drive home in all my answers.

  1. I am torn by the issue. I said this at least four times in the interview with KSN. Yes, I as a brewery owner will benefit from the added access we will have to beer drinkers by adding more stores, but as a small business owner, I sympathize with the mom-n-pop liquor stores who will be forced to adapt to this new business landscape or perish. This new law has created a classic David vs. Goliath scenario, where small liquor stores are now pitted against the large box store.  Which leads me to #2…
  2. We at Aero Plains Brewing are champions of local business. LOCAL…LOCAL…LOCAL!  I said that OVER and OVER in that interview, and though the change in the liquor law seems inevitable, APB is committed to helping our local business partners first and foremost. I think KSN did a poor job sharing my emphatic position on that.
  3. My whole motivation for opening Aero Plains Brewing was to become a business leader vs. a business owner. The distinction between these two concepts is that business owners—in a simplified analysis—seek to make a profit, where business leaders strive to make a difference. This is only born out through action by demonstrating genuine concern for not only our customers and employees, but for our business partners, our neighbors, and anyone else who makes up the community that we serve. That was another point I tried to make in that interview.

The new law will not go into effect for two years. During that time APB is committed to doing whatever we can to help our business partners—those current local liquor stores who support us—adapt and prosper.

I want to note. Avery was professional, engaging, and seemed receptive to my ideas about the complexity of the uncork Kansas issue. However, she and the KSN crew did a poor job sharing that complexity, or it just didn’t support KSNs narrative of the topic.