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Why we started Denmark’s first cooperative microbrewery

This post takes a detour from beer and brewing, instead exploring a different aspect of our brewery which is very important to us—the Co-op in Slowburn Brewing Co-op.

Slowburn is a worker cooperative, which means we are fully operated and owned by our employees. Currently, the co-op consists of Slowburn’s three founding members, but we are excited to welcome new worker-owners as our company grows.

In a worker cooperative, all employees have equal influence in their company via direct democracy, applying the principle of one person, one vote to the company’s decision-making process. This contrasts with most non-cooperatives, where a person's influence over decisions is determined by the percentage of the company they own. For most employees, this means they have no influence whatsoever. It also means that external, non-employee investors can significantly influence the direction of the company.

So what motivated us to create a cooperative microbrewery?

We prioritize values over profit

At Slowburn, we have three core values which drive our company:

  1. Brewing the highest-quality beer that we can
  2. Supporting and developing our local community
  3. Creating meaningful, long-term employment opportunities which truly benefit the company’s workers personally, professionally, and financially

Each of these values is more important to us than maximizing profits. At the same time, we are working hard to counter the misconception that cooperatives are merely hippie-crunchy social experiments. We can (and must) operate a healthy, profitable business in order to maintain our values.

Cooperatives are great places to work

Anyone in or adjacent to the beer industry has heard stories of abusive management, low wages, unreasonable hours, unsafe conditions, and so on. These issues are not unique to beer, but our industry seems to be particularly susceptible to them. It would be naive to claim that cooperatives solve all workplace issues, but they do empower workers to enact real change within their organizations.

Additionally, research suggests that compared to non-cooperative companies, cooperatives:

  • Have more motivated, productive employees [1]
  • Have less pay inequality [2]
  • Are less likely to go out of business [3,4,5]
  • Promote satisfaction, trust, and commitment among workers [6,7,8]

We can not be bought

It has become increasingly common for large corporations to purchase craft breweries [9], almost universally to the detriment of the brewery and its employees (owners excluded, who obviously benefit financially from selling out).

Craft Beer Connections

Since cooperatives are entirely owned by their workers, it is literally impossible for a behemoth corporation to purchase our brewery. Some financially-motivated brewery owners would consider this a bug; we consider it a feature.

This machine is built to last

Most businesses start with the best intentions. The founders want to create something unique, which adds value to the world. However, as organizations evolve over time, the original intentions can become distorted. This isn’t necessarily the result of maliceit can often be attributed to complicated circumstances which create shifts in companies’ priorities.

We see our brewery as a human-operated machine which we designed to execute our core values. Currently, the three co-founders are the operators, but this won’t always be the case. New employees will join and help operate the machine, and some day, the founders will no longer be a part of Slowburn. When that happens, we want to leave behind an organization which can survive without its creators, while maintaining the values of producing great beer, supporting the local community, and being a fantastic place to work.

This is just the beginning of our journey as a cooperative microbrewery, and we’ll continue to share our insights along the way. If you have any questions or comments around this topic, we would love to hear them! We're particularly keen to help anyone who's considering starting their own cooperative, so please feel free to reach out.

The cooperative members

References

[1] Pérotin, Virginie (2016). "What do we really know about worker co-operatives?"

[2] Magne, Nathalie (2017). "Wage inequality in workers' cooperatives and conventional firms". European Journal of Comparative Economics. vol. 14(2): 303–329. 

[3] Olsen, Erik (2013). "The relative survival of worker cooperatives and barriers to their creation". Advances in the Economic Analysis of Participatory and Labor-Managed Firms. 14:83-107.

[4] "The resilience of the cooperative model". The International Organisation of Industrial and Services Cooperatives. 2014.  

[5]  Burdín, Gabriel (2014). "Are Worker-Managed Firms More Likely to Fail Than Conventional Enterprises? Evidence from Uruguay". Industrial and Labor Relations Review. 67(1): 202–238.

[6] Sabatini, Fabio (2014). "Do cooperative enterprises create social trust?". Small Business Economics. Volume 42, Issue 3: 621–641.

[7] Park, Rhokeun (2018). "Responses to job demands: moderating role of worker cooperatives". Employee Relations. 40 No. 2: 346–361.

[8] Berry, Daphne (2013). "Effects of cooperative membership and participation in decision making on job satisfaction of home health aides". Advances in the Economic Analysis of Participatory and Labor-Managed Firms. 14: 3–25.

[9] Craft Beer Connections - Brewery Influence Web. The Mad Fermentationist Blog

11 comments

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    歷史
    六七千年前的先民就開始釣魚。周文王曾和兒子們在靈沼釣魚取樂。戰國時范蠡也愛釣魚,常把所釣之魚供給越王勾踐食用。 二十世紀八十年代,中國大陸的各級釣魚協會成立,釣魚地點也從自然水域向養殖水域過度,所釣之魚則從粗養向細養過度。人數增多、水體污染及濫捕濫撈導致釣魚難度上升。釣魚協會開始與漁民和農民簽訂文件,使更多釣者能夠在養殖水域釣魚,達到了雙贏的目的。 二十世紀九十年代初,來自台灣的懸釣法走紅大陸,各地開始建造標準釣池。 二十世紀末,發達國家的釣者提倡回顧自然,引發新一輪野釣戰,而中國的釣者則更青睞精養魚池。<>]

    工具

    一种钓鱼竿机械部分示意图
    最基本的钓具包括:鱼竿、鱼线、鱼钩、沉坨(又名沉子)、浮标(又名鱼漂)、鱼饵。<>]:1其他辅助钓具包括:失手绳、钓箱、线轮、抄网、鱼篓、渔具盒、钓鱼服、钓鱼鞋等。<>]:1

    钓竿一般由玻璃纖維或碳纖維轻而有力的竿状物质製成,钓竿和鱼饵用丝线联接。一般的鱼饵可以是蚯蚓、米饭、蝦子、菜叶、苍蝇、蛆等,现代有专门制作好(多数由自己配置的半成品)的粉製鱼饵出售。鱼饵挂在鱼鉤上,不同的對象鱼有不同的釣組配置。在周围水面撒一些誘餌通常会有較好的集魚效果。

    钓具
    鱼竿
    主条目:鱼竿
    钓鱼的鱼竿按照材质包括:传统竹竿、玻璃纤维竿、碳素竿,按照钓法包括:手竿、矶竿、海竿(又名甩竿),按照所钓鱼类包括:溪流小继竿、日鲫竿(又名河内竿)、鲤竿、矶中小物竿。<>]:6-8

    鱼钩
    主条目:鱼钩
    鱼钩就是垂钓用的钩,主要分为:有倒钩、无倒钩、毛钩。<>]:14

    鱼线
    主条目:鱼线
    鱼线就是垂钓时绑接鱼竿和鱼钩的线,历史上曾使用蚕丝(远古日本)、发丝(江户时期日本)、马尾(西欧)、二枚贝(地中海)、蛛网丝(夏威夷)、琼麻(东南亚)、尼龙钓线(美国)。<>]:25

    鱼漂
    主条目:鱼漂
    鱼漂又名浮标,垂钓时栓在鱼线上的能漂浮的东西,主要用于搜集水底情报,查看鱼汛,观察鱼饵存留状态,以及水底水流起伏变化。<>]:36

    鱼饵
    主条目:鱼饵
    鱼饵分为诱饵和钓饵,是一种用来吸引鱼群和垂钓时使用的物品,钓饵分为荤饵、素饵、拟饵、拉饵。<>]:170

    沉子
    主条目:沉子
    沉子又名沉坨、铅锤,是一种调节鱼漂的工具。<>]:45

    卷线器
    主条目:卷线器
    卷线器主要安装在海竿和矶竿上的一种卷线的工具。<>]:63

    连结具
    主条目:连结具
    连结具是连结鱼线与钓竿、母线与子线的一种连结物,使用最广泛的是连结环。<>]:55

    识鱼
    鱼类的视力不如人类,距离、宽度均无法和人类的视力比较,鱼类对水色、绿色比较敏感,鱼类的嗅觉非常灵敏,鱼类的听觉也非常灵敏,钓鲤鱼时,不能在岸上大声谈笑、走动不停,鱼类的思考能力非常弱,鱼类应对周边环境随着气象、水温、水色、潮流、流速、水量的变化而变化,于是便出现了在同一个池塘、水库、湖泊,往日钓鱼收获大,今日少,上午收获大,下午少,晴天大,雨天少等情况。<>]:114-117淡水钓鱼,中国大陆经常垂钓的鱼类对象是本地鲫鱼、日本鲫、非洲鲫、鲤鱼、游鱼、罗非鱼、黄刺鱼(黄鸭叫)、黄尾、鳊鱼、青鱼、草鱼、鲢鱼、鳙鱼,台湾经常垂钓的鱼类对象是本地鲫鱼、日本鲫、吴郭鱼(罗非鱼)、溪哥仔和红猫(粗首马口鱲)、斗鱼、罗汉鱼、苦花、三角姑(河鮠)、竹蒿头(密鱼)。<>]:117

    影响鱼类的6大因素主要是:季节变更、气温高低、水的涨落、风的大小、水的清浊、天气阴晴

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