Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Goose Island sells out to Anheuser-Busch?!!? | Chad'z Beer Op-Eds

I'm an opinionated person and I love beer, so it only makes sense to start a series of video op-eds on the beer industry. We certainly have a great introductory issue: Goose Island is now majority-owned by Anheuser-Busch/InBev (Budweiser). This of course raises a lot of controversial questions: Why does Bud want to own Goose Island and what are their long-range plans? Will Goose Island's integrity be maintained or will the recipes be dumbed-down for Bud's audience? Is this good for the craft beer industry as a whole? I offer you my thoughts on these issues and more in this improvised op-ed.




  1. Kinda like when your fave indie band gets signed to a major label. The end result is often an over-produced, watered down version of all of their endearing qualities.

  2. Hey Chad,

    The skeptic in me says, they will drive Goose Island into the ground just on the associated reputation alone. However, before that might happen I think their real intent is the In-Bev and SAB model before those "companies" bought AB and Miller. That model is really "portfolio" based, these companies go and create essentially portfolios of breweries to sell in tandem to maximize reach and profit.

    By and large these acquisitions for portfolio based beers had always been foreign, mostly European market beers. With the Goose Island sale, it is just the beginning. It remains to be seen how these mega companies impact the product of their acquisitions in the United States, but if the Brewery owner like John Hall is invested in protecting the name as he seems to be, these portfolio beers will remain true to their original intent.

    There is not a really viable transition model in AB/InBev transitioning Bud drinkers to Honkers Ale let alone Bourbon County Brand Stout. So their intent has to be keeping the product sound while increasing capacity. As you pointed out Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada dwarf Goose Island, and I don't think either brewery suffers from dilution of their product through that growth. I think in fact Boston Beer Co has actually gotten better in the last decade even with its growth, mostly because it focused on having its own brewery vs. being all contracted.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out and who the next dominoes to fall are going to be.

    My guess and this is pure speculation on my part, but it won't be the Sierra's, Stone's, Dogfish's of the world that take a happy pay out from ginormous intergalactic beer banks, but rather a lot of recently popped up very small craft brands, many of which are contract brewed. Not unlike what happened in the mid 1990s with the likes of Pete's Wicked Brewing among others.