Dick Cantwell has resigned from Anheuser-Busch and brewed his last beer at Elysian Brewing Company. One of the co-founders and co-owners, Cantwell is recognized as the brewing genius behind Elysian’s success. As has been widely reported, Elysian was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in January. Amongst Elysian’s ownership group, Cantwell was a dissenting voice in that decision.
Cantwell has long been an active, passionate member of the craft brewing community, both nationally and locally, and it is hard to imagine Elysian Brewing Company without him. (Above, Dick playing Rock ’em Sock ’em Robots at Latona Pub, which will host a Dick Cantwell Appreciation Night event this evening – Mon. April 13.)
“I am a craft brewer, past, present and future…”
The annual Craft Brewers Conference (CBC) kicks off tomorrow in Portland and this news will surely be a topic of conversation amongst the thousands of attendees. Since being acquired by Anheuser-Busch, Elysian Brewing no longer fits the Brewers Association’s definition of craft brewery, which states that a craft brewery is “small, independent and traditional.” Cantwell actually helped architect that definition while serving on the Brewers Association’s Board of Directors.
Elysian can still be involved in the CBC, but the nature of its involvement with the Brewers Association, which organizes and hosts the conference, has changed. Regarding Cantwell himself, who enjoys a national reputation in the industry, news of his resignation will change the tone of the conversation.
“Just wanted to let you know that about half an hour ago I resigned from Anheuser Busch,” said Dick Cantwell via email this morning. “The tenor of the deal, mainly from the point of view of my former partners and me, was such that I can’t possibly work with them into a future of any duration. My concerns were never even considered as a factor of whether we should or shouldn’t. From the start it was me against everyone else, with no regrets expressed. Enough about that.”
“In the past few months AB has treated me with consideration and seriousness, and they’ve presented me some pretty exciting future possibilities, should I be able to see my way clear to working for them. But I can’t. I am a craft brewer, past, present and future, no matter what I end up doing. Naturally I’m not one to whine about the Definition, about being on the wrong side of it, etc. I helped craft the thing while I was on the BA Board, and while I have my own personal reservations about some aspects, I think it’s important to recognize some differences in realms of the market.”