I woke up this morning thinking it would be an average day, get up, get dressed, check my e-mail—find out that Goose Island brewing had been bought out by Anheuser-Busch?!! What the shit?!I am finally confronted with a question my wonderfully, ever trolling friends ask me: What would you do if Anheuser-Busch made a good beer? Would you say it sucked as much then? I've tossed this idea around in my head and thought of how that would effect me. What would I do if one of my favorite beers like Bourbon County was made by the makers of Budweiser?! Well that simply wouldn't happen!! But it has.
I read an interview on www.timeoutchicago.com and their press release and it's soulless. Now before you jump all over me, especially after my last blog post about business being business with Dogfish Head's decision to tighten distribution, I can see why they did it. With the money that Anheuser-Busch has one would think that the creative capacity is boundless, and it should be. Just talking to Larry Sidor at Deschutes he said if he had more money he'd be able to support more beers like the Organic Ale and The Dissident Brown Sour. I wonder though, at what cost?
I don't question Goose Island's motives. The interview I read with Greg Hall made it seem like the spark was gone, and he did the craft beer thing and is ready to do something else now. Anheuser-Busch had the money and of course seeing the direction that craft beer is going in today, who wouldn't want to get involved. Anheuser-Busch on the other hand has business practices that I simply don't want to endorse. Obviously their attempts at creative “microbrew start-ups” around the country hasn't worked because people have been on the look out for macrobrew owned microbrews, so purchasing an established and respected, award-winning company was a natural next step.
Personally, I have to vote with my dollars. Anheuser-Busch will be riding the coat tails of creativity that the talented brewers of Goose Island have sewn and I can't support that because I believe that as a business Anheuser-Busch his morally bankrupt. Is this a lesson for us? Should we take drinking locally more seriously instead of searching for beers from far and wide? This is America, of course we can't, but I'm starting to worry about our microbreweries. If they don't have the money to expand as quickly as their consumers would like them, is it time to raise the price of beer? I am truly excited but slightly fearful of our future in the microbrew world. It is all our goal to make money, and to please our customers with a wonderful product, but how can we do this without subjugating our morals and the business standards of our drinkers? These aren't just rhetorical questions I want to hear back from you guys about your ideas! Does it even effect you? Perhaps you're disturbed having a foreign company buying out an American small business? I want to hear back about what you think.
I would also like to point out that Dogfish Head and Deschutes may be having similar issues regarding producing enough for a high demand, however they are taking the slow and steady approach much like Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada and Stone have. Greg Koch, CEO of Stone Brewing, has made it clear that he will never sell out even though he may have faced similar issues in the past. Organic business growth is essential especially on a product that has almost no marketing and is truly a grass roots creation. Did Goose Island NEED to take this step? This is where the issue really stings, I think, because maybe they needed the money but was the need so great that they would trade the craft beer spirit for their freedom.