Industry weighs in on draft line payola issue on Twitter


(Washington, DC) – Earlier today, Flying Dog Brewery DC sales rep, Tommy Hunter, took to Twitter alleging that MillerCoors paid off a bar to put Pilsner Urquell on tap over one of Flying Dog’s beers.

The payola issue has largely been a behind-closed-doors topic of discussion though Crain’s Business did a full investigation of the issue in the Chicago market in 2010. Just as many questions surround why industry people aren’t more vocal about this issue than the alleged practice itself.

Regardless of the truth behind Hunter’s allegations today, after the post went up, we had a nice little discussion on Twitter today.!/ToddFromSaranac/status/167005634187890688


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Photo Credit: {a href=""}horiavarlan on Flickr (via Creative Commons){/a}


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11 thoughts on “Industry weighs in on draft line payola issue on Twitter

  1. I am extremely intrigued by all of this. It is hard to speak up sometimes as the little guy at the risk of pissing off retailers, those badly needed sales. Coors distribution carries flying dog in Colorado, I would like to know if Coors pays for FG to stay placed in the Colorado local shelves. This goes on way too much in bars and stores

  2. From what I’ve heard from my sales reps, AB InBev was all around Indy dropping some decent money trying to get extra Bud/Bud Light lines in bars near Lucas Oil.

    I’ve heard upwards of $4k a line, but I imagine that may be inflation for the sake of a story.

  3. @GoobVonNasty, I wouldn’t put it past AB. After all, they are the “official” sponsor for the NFL, so I’m sure the brewery and local distributor was under a substantial amount of pressure to get some lines in bars.

    Unfortunately, this happens in all states. The big boys will pay to play, and can sweep something like that under the rug, and nobody would bat an eyelash. I would hate to say the liquor control just looks the other way, but it certainly appears that way in some cases.

  4. Tommy Hunter must be living under a rock on in a cave!
    I am a native of Los Angeles and live in the San Fernando Valley, where Bud and Miller; in nearby Azuza, operate brewing & distributing for So Cal and surrounding areas.
    It is has been long known that; particularly Bud, conducts many types of “payola” for many many years. Even more “under handed” tactics have been known but never 100% proven at the hands of the sales reps. Tactics like puncturing lines from kegs, switching lines to their product, just to name two.

  5. They do the same payola thing in Liqour stores. millercoors package is at a better price in a good spot in the store? AB offers up a buck a case off or a bulk discount and magically their stuff is in the best spot in the store, and their shit is cheaper. This is usually forced upon the retailer to save their own asses.
    The little guys can complain about this till their heads’ spin, but those big breweries are huge contributors in the political world for a reason.

  6. I’ve seen it everywhere in my home market from breweries large and small.. Even Stone, sorry Greg! Want it to stop? Urge the ATF to level the playing field for real and enforce the laws against it. This includes card swiping, employees giving their allotment up, and every other trick you could conceive.. Until then, it’s going to happen.

  7. I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been a rep at a big domestic distributor and am now a rep at a smaller strictly craft distributor. I guess I was on the lucky end because both distributors that I worked for had a very ethical stand on ‘no illegal activity’. We got all of our handles through legal processes. However, our competitors did not have the same stance. It’s extremely prevalent every where I go and I am currently in my third market in 5 years.

  8. Every AB wholesaler I worked for has been ethical but I can’t say the same for the so called craft distributors and their brewery reps.

  9. Burt, I wish I could say the same. But I know for a FACT that the AB wholesaler in my state, does a lot of shady business with bars, restaurants and retailers. From $$ to concert tickets and much more.

    The problem with the craft beer side bitching about big-beer payola, is that the payola is usually coming from THEIR distributor! Meaning, many craft breweries are distributed by AB / MillerCoors houses. So speaking up can cost your brewery dearly, as well as your job.

  10. Is it worth pointing out that this sort of practice goes on and is legal in nearly every other business outside of beer?

    It’s 100% legal in my state for liquor and wine and let’s not even get started with what goes on in pharmaceuticals, main grocery, etc

    Is it bad to have a budget for this type of business?

    Shouldn’t the onus be on the bar/restaurant/beer shop to have enough integrity to say “NO!”?


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