It's about the beer
Gina Miller and Bill Keeper
Hey Bill, - Will this ever end? No Bill, I'm not talking about one of your monologues about
your favorite beers - you do tend to ramble. Ha, just kidding. I'm talking about the fact that
Anheuser-Busch InBev just made its first U.S. craft brewery purchase of 2017 (with more sure
to come) of North Carolina’s Wicked Weed Brewing.
How bad has it gotten? Well, Wicked Weed, based in the craft beer-soaked mecca of
Asheville, North Carolina, is the 10th U.S. craft brewery to sell to Anheuser-Busch InBev since
2011. It joins Goose Island (Chicago), Blue Point Brewing (New York), 10 Barrel Brewing
(Oregon), Elysian Brewing (Seattle), Golden Road (Los Angeles), Breckenridge Brewery
(Colorado), Four Peaks Brewing (Arizona), Devils Backbone (Virginia) and Karbach Brewing
(Texas), in A-B’s craft and import focused “High End” portfolio. It's enough to make you give
both the buyers and sellers the a low end of your boot right in their rear ends. Several times.
So, Billl, you may ask: “What is wrong with any of this?” A lot. All these crafty ABI brands
opening around the country smells like the beginnings of a chain model designed to steal away
taproom traffic from real craft breweries. It’s already happening in downtown Portland, Oregon
and in downtown Denver with the openings of 10 Barrel Brewing gastropubs. This model is
allowing ABI to "Disneyfy" (I made that up, Bill) craft beer and scoop up tourist and foot traffic
that could otherwise be served by small and independent, locally run businesses.
A-B InBev spends lots, billions, of dollars on marketing every year. Last year alone, they spent
$1.6B on just advertising. Imagine that kind of budget power being used to compete against
the most beloved brewery in your hometown. They aren't going to stand a chance.
Corporate beer masquerading as craft is a danger to all local brewing. Even more, they don't
care about the communities they serve, unlike most independent breweries. You think A-B
InBev gives a damn about any town they move into or in deed, about craft beer itself?That
Belgo-Brazilian run multinational just wants to use their brewery purchases to lie to people of
the town they buy into so as to fool them into believing they are bringing great craft beer to
their city and saving something that doesn't need saving. It's all BS from A-B.
It's also about controlling the distributors and shelf space of competing brands. As AB's crafty
portfolio grows they will slowly and surely demand distributors sell their products instead of the
local brewer's. Their goal is to destroy craft from within and we've got to be aware of their
Machiavellian plot. For me, I will not buy any crafty beer fronting for a macro producer. If
people like you Bill, and our readers do the same we can make a stand for what we both love -
true craft beer!
That's it from me, chug-a-lug, Bill.....see you next time.
Hello Gina - Go get'em kid! When you get rolling nothing can stand in your way. First off let me
ask you to take a deep breath and relax. Have a beer, maybe one from Wicked Weed or Golden
Road or....... okay, just teasing. Actually your passion is well considered and persuasive.
However legitimate your fear that this is all a plot against craft and the corollary you didn't that
the hitherto fine breweries taken over by AB InBev will eventually ruin their product there's one
fact to soothe your worries. With almost 5,300 U.S. breweries in operation today, and 700 new
operations opening in just last year, there’s no shortage of small competitors to keep the craft
taps running and continue to tweak the nose of the big boys.
I found your belief that in addition to all the other evil intentions of InBev, they are also trying to
to compete at the small, local level with tasting rooms by opening up brewpub/gastropub/beer
garden establishments to be really interesting. I did some research and found that they’re
prevented from doing in most states under the Budweiser brand but not under the name of their
new acquisitions. Since many of these acquisitions are in the same general vicinity of true craft
beer taprooms I see a real problem.in that the small guy could be in trouble since the playing
field is so uneven considering the billions backing the former craft, now "crafty" brewery.
There is another side to all of this you should consider. First off, I'm glad you didn't call for the
impacted area's local government to block the involvement of AB InBev. I don’t think there is a
reasonable legal argument for that to happen. Stopping the takeover mania is the job of the
federal government's anti- trust division. I found this statement from Deputy Assistant Attorney
General Juan Arteaga on the purchase of Texas-based Karbach Brewing Company late last
year. He said the division would “consider whether these transactions, either singularly or
collectively, are likely to harm competition by, among other things, giving ABI the ability to prevent
its craft rivals from effectively getting their products to the market.” He went on to say his
department would “carefully scrutinize any future craft acquisitions”. Well, there have been quite
a few but the government has yet to intercede.
Now a word from the optimistic side of me, you know, the one that always says my glass is half
full, not half empty with a better beer than you picked Gina. Oh, it's a joke. Anyway, that side of
me thinks we don’t have anything to worry about. Opening up several boutique breweries does
not fit InBev’s business model, which is to scale out something locally successful to a national or
global level. However, let's assume that happens. These breweries would sure lose their special
craft identity.. Additionally, it is almost certain that ingredients, processes, and overall quality will
decline as InBev scales out these brands making of choice of buying beer from them or a quality
local producer a very easy one. However, at the end of the day, if this crafty company can make
a better product for cheaper and people choose to go there instead of local places then so be it,
that’s how capitalism works. Oh, don't worry, that will never happen.
Oh, one last thing. I'm joining you are that boycott of those crafty impostors!
Here's looking at you Gina