Let me start with the worst-kept secret in the beer blogosphere. The rumors that you have probably heard in the comments section on our site over the past few weeks are indeed true. Aleheads has sold a teeny-tiny (and I do mean teeny-tiny) piece of our ownership to the Tenth and Blake Beer Company. Before the backlash begins, allow me to say that I KNOW this announcement reeks of hypocrisy. I can’t really argue with that, but please let me at least attempt to explain…
Over the past year or so, Aleheads has posted some harsh words about MillerCoors’s infestation of the craft beer world via their craft wing, Tenth and Blake. While we certainly stand by much of what was said in those posts, we’ll admit that those missives were naive at best and reactionary at worst. The truth is, the craft beer pie is getting too big for the macros to ignore. Tenth and Blake’s creation and subsequent involvement in craft was, frankly, inevitable.
Over the past few months, Slouch Sixpack has engaged in an amusing and convivial dialogue with some members of the Tenth and Blake team (most frequently with Lisa Zimmer, aka @zimmerino). While this back-and-forth has been combative at times, for the most part it has created an atmosphere of mutual respect between our two institutions. And I sort of figured that’s about as far as it would go…
So imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail about a month ago from Ms. Zimmer asking if we would have any interest in forming a “strategic partnership” with Tenth and Blake. My response was, as you might imagine, not really fit for print.
However, Ms. Zimmer followed up with a perfectly rational, perfectly reasonable e-mail that piqued my interest. It appears that Tenth and Blake is increasing their market visibility by getting a foothold in the rough-and-tumble world of beer blogging. Because of the increasing traffic of Aleheads AND the fact that we were already on Tenth and Blake’s radar due to our, ahem, “questioning” of their tactics, we were apparently the first blog they made a proposal to.
Now, I’m a fairly principled man. We’ve turned down countless offers for banner ads and guest posts from groups that didn’t necessarily fit our philosophy. But this was the first time we were offered any “real” financial compensation for what we do at Aleheads. So, naturally, I listened. And after a somewhat heated e-mail exchange that occurred on-and-off for about two weeks, we came to an understanding.
To be perfectly transparent, Tenth and Blake WILL be paying the Aleheads. I can’t really pretend that’s not happening. The dollar amount is immaterial, but obviously it is MUCH more than I was expecting or we wouldn’t even have had the conversation.
This partnership will NOT change our perspective or writing style at Aleheads, but you should obviously not expect anything critical of Tenth and Blake, MillerCoors, or any of their brand names. As part of the deal, Tenth and Blake will be sending us new versions of their products and you can expect an honest and open discussion of these beers. We may pull our punches a little bit, but we’re not total sell-outs!
Tenth and Blake employees will also be guest-posting and submitting press releases from time to time on the site. They’ve promised that there will be no more than two or three of these corporate memos a day and that they won’t interfere with our usual posting. Again, I know this isn’t ideal, but I truly don’t think it will affect our overall operating strategy.
The synergy with Tenth and Blake is exciting for us. To be blunt, they were going to get a piece of some beer blogs whether we liked it or not, so why not let them become part of the Aleheads family? You already know and trust our opinion on craft beer and our skepticism of the macros. What difference does it make if MillerCoors owns a miniscule percentage of our site? It’ll change things a little…we know that. But hopefully not enough to matter to our readers!
Please let us know how you feel about this merger in the comments section. Tenth and Blake WILL be monitoring the comments so if you say anything TOO harsh about them or their parent company (or any of their products, obviously) it will likely be deleted. But other than that, please be honest!
I’m sorry if this is troubling to any of you, but hopefully this doesn’t change how you feel about Aleheads. With Tenth and Blake behind us, I’m sure we’re bound for bigger and better things!