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Did you guys know they make RumChata coffee creamer these days?
Plus: Finnish cocktail gamble, new cause beer just dropped + more curious coffee stuff just because
Editor’s note: Welcome to the 12 new readers who have joined the Fingers Fam in the past week. We’re glad you’re here! If you haven’t yet, please consider purchasing a subscription to support this project! You’ll get access to bonus stories, podcasts, and more, plus my eternal gratitude.—Dave.
🧾 The Settle-Up
— Did You Guys Know They Make RumChata Coffee Creamer These Days?: I did not, until I read Aaron Goldfarb’s VinePair story on the dairy-based booze brand, which these days is owned by High Noon heavyweight E.J. Gallo. They’ve been making these little lactose bombs since 2016! Not sure how I feel about this. Actually, yes I am:
More coffee-related #content coming, so buckle up reader.
— Starbucks Tells Unionizing Workers 'We Want You to Vote No': Next week, workers at three Starbucks locations in the Buffalo area will begin voting on whether to form a union. Vice’s Lauren Kaori Gurley got her hands on an email that the coffee behemoth’s regional vice president sent to its employees about the matter this past week. Reader, it may shock you to learn that Starbucks would really prefer its workers to vote against the union! Go figure. This isn’t “textbook union-busting” per se; the textbook encourages bosses to be slightly more subtle when trying to put the kibosh on drive at their shop. We’ll see soon enough if Starbucks explicit anti-union stance enough to swing the organizing effort in the company’s favor: voting starts November 10th.
— Black Rifle Coffee Co. to go public via $1.7B SPAC deal: In more explicitly conservative coffee news, Black Rifle—a direct-to-consumer company that sells coffee and a sense of identity to Call of Duty LARPers—announced plans to go public by merging with a blank-check SPAC firm. I don’t really know or care how SPACs work, but in this case Reuters reports the deal will value the newly merged Black Rifle at around $1.7 billion. Sure whatever, this company did like $163 million in revenue last year, and there are plenty of Troop Respecters out there, I’m sure it’s a great business. This line from Reuters’ report piqued my interest, though (emphasis mine):
As part of the deal, BRCC plans to reorganize as a public benefit corporation, meaning that while the company will remain a for-profit enterprise, it will continue to support social good.
This from the company seemed pretty happy to caffeinate America’s far right paramilitary types until its founders decided getting shouted-out in Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse’s bail photos last year was bad for business. Go figure.
— Brands Turn to Finland’s "Long Drink" in Canned Cocktail Craze: “Finnish your long drink, dear,” said no American ever. But maybe someday soon! Good Beer Hunting’s Kate Bernot has the details on American companies’ newfound-ish interest in Finland’s “long drink,” a gin-and-grapefruit soda refreshment named for… something. Being able to stretch quantities of booze across bigger batches? Or being able to drink more of them because they’re low ABV? The origin story is a bit murky, but apparently the Finns love long drink—and Boston Beer Company, which is launching Bevy (a malt-based version, probably because spirits face higher taxes) is hoping Americans will too. The Truly/Twisted Tea/Sam Adams maker says it’s putting $10 million into the U.S. rollout, and eyeing a Super Bowl spot. [Disclosure: I bought some BBC stock in September 2021.] Will long drink catch on with the American drinking public? Hard to say how long the odds are. OK, no more puns, I’m Finnished. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)
— New Open-Source Cause Beer Just Dropped: Over the past couple years as the craft brewing industry has tried to get its shit together, we’ve seen the rise of what you might call “open-source cause beers”—beers that can be brewed by anyone who wants to support/evangelize around a particular social justice issue. In 2020 there was Black Is Beautiful1, a stout recipe created by Marcus Baskerville of San Antonio’s Weathered Souls Brewing Co. in the wake the George Floyd protests. Earlier this year, an advocacy group created by Brienne Allan (the woman who kicked off the craft brewing industry’s latest reckoning over gender-based workplace discrimination) launched its eponymous Brave Noise pale ale; to obtain the recipe, breweries must sign a code of conduct that aligns with the group’s mission. Now there’s Native Land IPA: an India pale ale recipe from Albuquerque’s Bow & Arrow Brewing Co.2 “[b]rewed to acknowledge the contributions and history of Native American People in the United States”—and hopefully raise some money for Native charities in the process. Announced on Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the first batches of the collab beer will begin rolling out this month (November being Native American Heritage Month, and all) and continue until March 2022.
— Sonic Hard Seltzer Launches in Six New Markets: Fans of the fast-food chain in Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Arizona can now buy 12-packs of its branded hard seltzer (made in partnership with fellow Oklahoman firm COOP Ale Works.) Normally I’d ignore this sort of incremental growth headline because who cares, but I think Sonic hard seltzer’s IRL growth is important inasmuch as it tells us non-CPG, non-alcohol brands successfully map their popularity onto flavored malt beverages if they execute well. Outback Steakhouse Bloomin’ Onion hard seltzer WHEN?
— State of the Boozeletter™, launch recap edition: Last and least, I typed up a brief recap from Fingers’ first month as a paid boozeletter. I view this project as an exercise in publishing journalism and building a community of shared interest in how America drinks. To keep you in the loop on how that community is doing, I’m going to try to publish updates like this on a semi-regular basis. Let me know in the comments if you like/hate that!
📬 Good post alert
In keeping with today’s fully-caffeinated coverage:
On Wednesday I published an interview with Dan Ozzi, music journalist and author of the new book Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk Emo and Hardcore 1994-2007. We spoke about his reporting process, the perennial tension between art and commerce, and which pop-ified post-punk band from the Aughts most closely resembled that scene’s hard-seltzer antihero. It was a ton of fun.
Everyone in the Fingers Fam got the first few paragraphs of our conversation, but only paying Friends of Fingers were able to access the whole condensed transcript and full-length podcast episode.3 So if you like Fingers and want to support independent journalism, consider purchasing a subscription! You’ll get access to these sorts of subscriber exclusives, and help me sustain and grow this boozeletter.
Annual subscriptions work out to less than $7/month. That’s the price of like, one happy-hour Blue Moon in a non-metropolitan area! Drink one less Blue Moon every month AND get subscriber-only bonuses and underwrite original coverage and commentary about drinking in America? That’s a win-win if I’ve ever seen one. Become a full-blown, paid-up Friend of Fingers today!
Likely Lasso’d into double-tapping this out of sheer morbid curiosity, the Fingers Fam double-tapped this meme more than any other posted to the boozeletter’s official Instagram in the past seven days.
If you haven’t followed Fingers on Instagram yet, you’re missing out on free daily original content about the booze business. Don’t do that! Do this instead:
Your feed will thank you. (Not really, that would be weird. But you know what I mean.)
The project achieved mainstream popularity (even fucking WalMart put it in 300 stores lol) but it’s less clear how much money the participating breweries actually donated.
Speaking of social justice in craft beer: I first spoke with Bow & Arrow co-founder Shyla Sheppard while reporting this piece about the industry’s diversity initiatives for the New York Times in 2018. It’s been a topic of conversation for a few years now!