Know any other industry where "enemies" hug?
Craft brewers are known for their collaborations. At the recently completed North Carolina Craft Brewer's Conference, we suggested the brewers and professionals of the #NCbeer family help us put together a collaborative blog - ironically, about collaboration. Or as we call it in craft beer, 'coopetition'. Here, in partnership with Foothills Brewing, is the world's first crowd-sourced beer blog. Turns out there are almost as many interpretations of coopetiton as there are North Carolina beers...
"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." -Isaac Newton
Aiding your adversary
Change your perception.
Coopetition (noun): A rare occurrence where competitors actively and willingly help their competition. It is currently only found in the brewing industry.
Stop, collaborate, and listen...which is truly what coopetition is all about.
STOP separating ourselves from each other, but embrace our industry as a whole.
COLLABORATE with each other to build the market together.
LISTEN to Vanilla Ice while you do it!
Coming together through coopetition helps everyone succeed. Coopetition lets us achieve things we could not on our own.
Coopetition is the perfect name for our experience as a fledgling brewery! Big and small brewers have willingly mentored and shepherded us as we start our journey.
Competition is about tearing down you competitors in order for the individual to survive, but coopetition is about building up each other in order for community to thrive. That is what makes the craft beer culture so beautiful.
A SENSE OF PLACE
As a new player in the brewery industry, I have been overwhelmed by the idea and spirit behind 'coopetition'. Having been in other industries for over 15 years and having to sign countless non-disclosures and non-competes, I am amazed at the open arms shown between competing breweries and their employees. Even as a Virginia brewer at a North Carolina Craft Brewers' conference, I feel extremely welcome by those who would otherwise be seen as competition. Craft brewers are always willing to talk shop, answer any questions, and wish you the best success in the road ahead. The sense of togetherness is really something specifically amazing about the craft brewery business. Through this teamwork and collaboration we can all make a better product and therefore have a stronger industry.
Coopetition is so important especially in towns with a growing beer scene. Every new brewery that opens draws in more beer tourism, which is great for all breweries in the area. I love being able to recommend our neighboring breweries to tasting room visitors that might be looking for a style we don’t currently offer, and they do the same for us.
It is about surrounding yourself with other successful folks; folks with like values, motivations, and ambitions. This is at the core of “co-opetition” to me. This hybrid of competition and collaboration still centers our Western American Ideals of capitalism which put profits over people. Howard Thurman has often been quote saying “Ask what makes you come alive and go do it because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Brewing and being a part of a collective of likeminded business owners, with a passion for justice, makes me come alive.
Coopetition is being here at the Guild and soaking in all the amazing people supporting each other from newbies to "seasoned" brewers, owners and just about all the people in the industry. Coopetition is not being afraid to be the new kid in the block and knowing we'll be the big elephant in our community, being afraid and excited at the same time and yet having a plethora of resources at our fingertips because we have people like you on our side. Yes, I just created a business goal for us....maybe in 2019 we'll be hop swapping beers with Foothills in our taproom. Coopetition at it's greatest and finest.
Coopetition among breweries is like yard wars in the neighborhood. Each neighbor wants to have the perfect yard. But each neighbor also wants to have the best neighbors and the most rewarding friendships. Every "gardener" wants to share the fruits of their labor with people who appreciate the craft. The diversity of people and styles makes a neighborhood sought after and secure. And having backyard cookouts with our neighbors brings us together.
The craft beer neighborhood represents the essence of life well lived. And another beer well appreciated...
The brewing industry is unlike any other profession. We encourage each other to be better than we were yesterday. We challenge each other to be creative, push the envelope and experiment with ideas. Cooperative competition is vital for the progression of the industry and gives the consumer a never ending opportunity to challenge their palate.
As a North Carolina alcoholic beverage lawyer, I enjoy the opportunity to work collaboratively with other lawyers representing all three tiers of the alcohol industry so that our clients can all sell more beer!
Coopetition is important because it elevates our entire industry. A delicious, well-made beer is a work of science and art in tandem, and the more we put our heads together to make sure we all have the best resources, the best methods, and the best peer-to-peer support system, the more solid the science of beer, and the more pure the art of craft brewing— then creative presentation and exceptional service can shine. Big beer is trying to start a fire within craft brewing in order to divide, separate and weaken its growth. But, with a healthy cooperative industry in place, where everyone is operating to that exceptional standard, helping out their neighbors and offering a constructive critical environment, big beer may be able to light a match, but it only creates a small flame fizzles out quite quickly... and they'll soon run out of matches.
For us, we love to get together with a nearby brewery and make something new. It is a chance to get creative and use new ingredients. Working with local ingredients with our beer friends is one of the highlights of what we get to do.
Our mission is to lift our community through kindness to all through advocacy and amazing craft beer! We encourage all to participate by drinking local, and living global!
Beer builds. It builds relationships. It builds bonds. It builds businesses. How has beer helped you build a better life?
As a brewery in planning, the fear and trepidation is intense. The essence and spirit of brotherhood that permeates NC Craft Beer, this notion of coopetition, is a warm, comforting blanket, to help quell the doubts. It has given us the encouragement to push ahead on this dream. When two of your closest competing breweries come and offer to do collaboration brews, to help get our name out...before we have even opened...well, that is just amazing! And when some of the biggest names in the industry (regional powerhouses) come up an ask how they can help, how is it going, showing a genuine interest in our small project, we really feel the spirit and kinship that is and goes beyond coopetition. I have no doubt that we can be successful, and that we will owe a large part of that success to the friendships, mentoring, and cooperation from my fellow NC Brewers.
A DOG’S TALE
(we even had one of our four-legged brewing friends weigh in)
Doc at Oden Brewing loves coopetition almost as much as old tennis balls and is glad that top NC breweries help the new guys thrive and become solid members of the craft beer community.
"Keep your friends close and your enemies closer."
Most of us have heard the expression, or at least some version of it; but it doesn't apply to craft beer.
Know any other industry where "enemies" hug?
One of the great things about the craft beer industry is that competitors are actually your friends! And they share with you, encourage you, and celebrate your successes. That's madness! You actually see hugs and handshakes and high fives when they run into each other. Do you know of another industry where a person gets excited about a competitor opening up across the street?
There's an unwritten "code" of craft brewing and one of those rules is that the only brewery shunned is the one who won't help another in need or reciprocate the help given to them. I can name a dozen breweries from whom I have directly received advice, equipment, the CEO's card, or the head brewer's cell number and told to call if I need anything, even if it's just to hang out and grab a beer together. The crazy part? ...I'm not even open yet.
Angry Troll Brewing
Black Star Line Brewing
Dragon Run Brewing
Fourth Creek Brewing Company
Gizmo Brew Works
Joymongers Brewing Company
Lazy Hiker Brewing Company
Leicester Brew Lab
Lost Province Brewing
Mystery Brewing Company
Nauti Dog Brewing
New River Brewing
Preyer Brewing Company
Southern Appalachian Brewery
Thirsty Monk Pub
Wrightsville Beach Brewery