Having said that, I feel that there's this palpable sense that now that we collectively own the whole thing, we're more enthusiastic about the challenges -- how are we going to pay selling shareholders, invest in Asheville and grow our infrastructure to manage that well -- and own those challenges more than we used to.
There seems to be a bit more ingenuity and creativity in New Belgium's beer making in recent years as well. Is that part of the pride in ownership that's developed as New Belgium's ESOP plan took shape?
Four to five years ago, I think the marketplace changed. I think the attention of beer drinkers on craft brewers and on the beers that they were making and the competitive landscape of smaller, more innovative start-ups took a big leap forward.
I think, honestly, for New Belgium, for Sierra, for Boston, for Deschutes and some of the larger craft brewers who were just doing what we were doing, we were just like "Wait a minute, the portfolio needs to change." Things are a little bit different. I think there was sort of a catalyst for enthusiasm and attention to beer that started back then.
Personally, four to five years ago, I also got a divorce and, not too long after that, started dating someone who was in the brewing industry: Dick Cantwell of
in Seattle. For me, on a personal level, that was energizing -- to be re-engaged in the craft beer industry in a new way. For New Belgium, I think the combination of things that were happening in the marketplace and things that were happening for me personally really caused us to say "I think we need to do some collaboration."
I met Dick through the Brewers Association -- we were both on the board of directors -- but then we started collaborating on making beer for Elysian and started collaborating with other people and started ramping up offerings in our portfolio. Our collective enthusiasm for grabbing this new energy around the growing craft beer landscape really multiplied.