Coming together over craft beer.
It wasn’t long after I started really paying attention to the happenings in the beer industry that I started reading and hearing various positions on the Goose Island deal with A-B/Inbev. The commentary ranges from passively complimentary to down right despicable. I could actual argue both positions on this issue have merit, it really depends on where you are standing. But right now I find another story developing that is in tension with the craft beer lover out rage at the Goose.
The Goose Is Loose
A short bit ago Goose Island released a couple of new brews under their Bourbon County Stout line. These much anticipated releases were met with such anticipation by beer enthusiasts that there were lines around stores in the greater Chicago area to get a bottle. Just to be clear, this beer was not packaged with an iPhone, it was just the beer. Granted, I understand it is beer that could be easily confused as craft by the Almighty himself, but still, no iPhone. These people were not Bud lovers, nobody waited on line for Bud Select, right? These were true beer lovers, climbing over themselves to get at a new Goose Island beer. The beer from the same company who many beer bloggers and lovers have been killing for selling out and begining the end of the craft beer industry.
Duck, Duck, Goose
You see, the folks at AB are smart for sure. They have money, clout, and power. They went after Goose for a reason. First, they are not Sam Adams, who leads the craft beer revolution. They could not have made that deal, and they knew it. They tried to bring down Sam before, it didn’t work. Second, they are not Stone, Rogue, or Dogfish who have great name recognition, but are to intense and random in their brands and beers. They need a well known independent with a buttoned up flavor, rich and interesting enough for the lover of beer but not to scary to share a tap with others in the Bud family. Mostly they need a cult following that would line up around a liquor store for a new release regardless of how they felt about corporate takeovers.
Alone On An Island
For now, Goose Island is the only significant example of what AB would call merger, what GI would call opportunity for increased capacity and distribution, and what beer lovers call something between locusts and prohibition. I know their are some other examples, but this seems like the one that is going to tell the tale. If Goose Island continues to sell better than ever, what is written on the webs will have no consequence, and you can bet your bottle cap collection many more breweries will follow in making deals with the devil.
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