Golden Road Brewing co-founder Tony Yanow has finally spoken out about his role in the company’s blockbuster sale to beer mega-conglomerate AB-InBev last year. The affable Yanow tell the LA Times that, ultimately, "it’s just business."
In the wide-ranging conversation, Yanow tells the Times that there were no plans to sell the brewery initially, even as the local beer behemoth grew to quickly become the city’s largest operator. It wasn’t until August of last year that there was even a hint of so-called ‘selling out’, Yanow says, but once AB-InBev dropped into the conversation with a sweetheart of a deal, it became essentially a no-brainer.
"I don’t think of it as selling out," Yanow says, adding: "I didn’t sell my soul." He goes on to say that anyone being offered what he was by the multinational corporation would have done the same thing too.
Mostly the conversation centers around distribution, and the proliferation of craft beers that can squeeze out shelf space even for medium-to-large breweries like Golden Road. What’s more, with heavy consolidation at the top, there’s less and less incentive for distributors — many of whom enjoy outsized influence at the state level in America — to spend their time working with the little guys. As co-founder Meg Gill said at the time of the sale, it was in some ways important to concede status as an independent in favor of joining the "winning team."
The piece also hints at what’s next for Yanow, whose Tony’s Darts Away and Mohawk Bend properties were not a part of the sale. He says he’s done trying to make the next big brewery, and will instead focus on smaller, more intimate projects locally and out of town. Plus, as he says somewhat cheekily, Yanow "[has] some of AB’s money" now, so he can do whatever he pleases within the craft beer world.