Any large company is going to have some disgruntled employees. That’s an inevitability, but it’s still unusual to see them publicly air their grievances (under the cover of anonymity, at least) online. That’s what is going on right now in Reddit’s main beer community, r/beer, following a post made by an employee of Boston Beer Co. who claims to be a member of the company’s massive U.S. sales team.
Boston Beer Co. is of course the company better known to the average consumer simply as “Samuel Adams.” They produce the Sam Adams line of beers, but also an array of other products such as Twisted Tea and Angry Orchard cider, all of which have served to prop up the company somewhat in recent years as their beer sales declined and the company struggled to modernize and stay relevant in the current craft beer market. In fact, Boston Beer Co. has come to sell so much alcoholic tea, cider and “alcoholic sparkling water” over the last few years that they’re in danger of losing their “craft brewer” designation under the definition of the Brewers Association, which mandates that a company needs to sell at least 50% beer in order to retain said designation. This would be a considerable blow to the overall U.S. craft beer statistics tracked by the Brewers Association, as they previously raised the overall amount of beer one can produce within the “craft brewer” designation to 6 million barrels exclusively to keep BBC as part of the fold.
But meanwhile, the company now also has to deal with random employees taking to the internet to post complaints about the company and their work environment. That’s what reddit user beergal222222222234 did, complaining about being made to prioritize Twisted Tea, being unable to advance in her position, and having to sign a limiting non-compete clause. Here are some choice excerpts:
On beer sales
Your focus as of now is selling the only brand that is selling well – Twisted Tea Brewing – think Mike’s Hard Lemonade meets Ice Tea. That’s right, you’ll be selling alcoholic Tea before beer. Doesn’t have the same cache as you thought. But the craft beer is next, right? Wrong you are – your next focus is Angry Orchard Hard Cider! Boston Beer owns roughly 60% of the US cider market, they even purchased a cidery in NY, dubbed it “The Angry Orchard” to make consumers think this is where the apples come from for their mass distributed ciders (it’s not). But now, lucky you, you get to sell the Sam Adams portfolio as the third company priority! Woohoo! Beer, Beer, Beer! But wait! Don’t forget after that you have to sell a few other things in addition to those first three – like Truly, an alcoholic sparkling water (yes H20), The Traveler Beer Company, Coney Island Hard Sodas (because who would drink Sam Adams alcoholic Root Beer), and if you live in Florida, California, or the Mid Atlantic three additional breweries owned by Boston Beer (but not openly advertised as such).
On her non-compete clause
Are you one of those people that truly loves craft beer, the industry and the people? Sign on with The Boston Beer Company and you are screwed once again. In your employment packet you sign to accept the job, you’ll find a 10 page non-compete agreement. One they conveniently do not mention until you are vested in the opportunity at the end of the hiring process. So if you decide to leave to go work for a genuine Brewer, you’ll get slapped with a lawsuit, so no beer for you. Additionally, you can’t work for ANYONE that sells ANYTHING that competes with them – that includes: FMBs, ciders, beer and alcoholic water – you have just sealed yourself out of the industry for a good long while. Not even ABI or MillerCoors makes you sign a non-compete. Think about that.
On moving, relocation and her coworkers
You are going to be relocated. A lot. Based on what they need – not what is best for you. You are basically a pawn piece. If you want to move up, be prepared to kiss ass and move – every two years. The career website notes that 40% of new hires are entry level sales – there is a reason why. Are you far more qualified for that role in your home town but you never worked for that region manager? You won’t get it. Did you have ten years experience in the beverage business before you were hired? Doesn’t matter. 90% of sales employees start at the bottom and as you move up, you realize there is a bottle neck at each level of promotion. Hence the high turnover. And now is the worst time to be in the system – the lower positions are being phased out, the upper positions are being pushed down so everyone becomes middle management with no advancement.
People then get too scared to leave because of the non-compete, they get disenchanted with promotion and these beautiful people are your new coworkers and managers!
In short, it’s not a pretty sight in this thread. You can view the entire thing here, which features a few other people claiming to be Boston Beer Co. employees chiming in as well. Granted, there’s no absolute, concrete proof that these people work for Samuel Adams, but beyond showing an understanding of the company’s operation, one has to wonder why they would bother taking the risk unless they truly were disgruntled employees.