Recently, Anheuser Busch purchased Goose Island brewery, the popular Chicago microbrew. Goose Island is responsible for such beers as Matilda, Sofie and 312. In case you’re wondering, 573 is one of the area codes for the greater St. Louis metropolitan area(yeah, bad joke). I know that there are people that won’t give two shits, but this really gives me the red ass. Before I continue to climb my soap box let me explain how I view these two very different and until now corporately separate entities.
Microbrews focus on making quality beer that is unique and absolutely tasty. Huge beer corporations focus on making cheap beer cheaper. If this doesn’t bother you then feel free to stop reading right now and go pick up a $2.47 sixer of Busch Lite. Corporations that brew beer really have no choice but to brew the cheapest, watered down, hose in the mouth bull shit they possibly can because they (Anheuser Busch) all but own the entire beer market. When you own a large percentage of the market and STILL want to increase your profits you have maybe four choices. Buy out the competition, in this case, the local microbrews littered around the country….check. Lay off employees….check. Decrease the cost of brewing your own beer, presumably by adding more water….check. Or start a line of breakfast cereals, could be coming any day now.
However, there are beer drinkers among us that would love the opportunity to spend a little bit extra to drink something that isn’t well water. Why in the largest consumer economy in the world am I having trouble with this? In case you haven’t been in a liquor store or a grocery store since before World War I then here is what the beer aisle looks like these days.
It’s not a secret who is going to get the most attention if 95% of the aisle is filled with beer from one brand. Smaller breweries have become more popular over the last couple of years. This is undoubtedly due to a growing number of beer drinking consumers who don’t want to fill their mouths with urine for a small discount. In 2010, microbrews jumped 11% in sales from the previous year. AB obviously sees the writing on the wall and did what most corporations do best. Get the good guys to sell out.
In a letter to his “drinkers”, Goose Island founder John Hall recently stated:
I am very proud of Goose Island’s contribution to this craft beer movement, of the many awards won by our brewers, our growing number of employees, our support of the communities and life of Chicago, and the friendship of so many beer lovers in Chicago and elsewhere. Today’s agreement to consolidate ownership of Goose Island under Anheuser-Busch will provide us with the best resources available to continue along our path of growth and innovation.
Douche. The implication here is that the Goose beer will not change at all. However, the first action taken by AB was to fire the brew master responsible for these beers Chicagoans love and replaced him. Immediately.
So the next time Anheuser Busch decides 5 billion in sales per quarter isn’t enough you can bet that 312 will start to taste like the rest of the piss from a pipe we’ve come to expect.
Let me know what you think about this, do you care? Are you pissed? If you live in Chicago will you still go to Goose Island?