A thought from my last visit to Chicago was what do we do with breweries like Goose Island and their place? Many have looked to exclude them as craft beers since they had been purchased by AB InBev, but they still produce a fine quality craft beer. I have heard companies like this beginning to be described as ‘crafty.” What are your thoughts?
I can see the “crafty” title, but do they really mass produce all of their beers? Just because they are owned by a larger company, should they automatically be kicked from the ranks of craft beer? I can personally say that there is nothing macro about the “Sofie” or the “Matilda” which I had the opportunity to enjoy as well as the “Green Line.” And of course, their “Bourbon County Stout” is still a top of the line beer.
Maybe we should just accept this new category of beers as we see more of these craft breweries being purchased. Chances are that it won’t stop anytime soon. So as long as they don’t screw with the formula, then maybe, we will just be okay.
As I write on this I’m just reading the news that Heineken has acquired 50% of Lagunitas. Even though Lagunitas will still be led by it’s founder, Tony MaGee, it still feels like another shred of our independence has bit the dust. As I’m reading about this acquisition I’m debating in my own mind if I should even care about this. On the one hand I have the punk rock kid voice in my head that still lingers from my youth telling me “be independent and damn the big corporations!” To an extent I still agree with that, when I have the choice I certainly prefer giving my money to independently owned companies who won’t be sharing profits with brands that are never on my radar to add to a my shopping list. The flip side is the owner and share holders of Lagunitas, Goose Island, or whatever other brewery you want to point out has certainly taken the time to invest in their own brand and grow that name, it’s certainly understandable to want to cash in on that investment. Does Lagunitas being partially owned by a bigger company mean that their product will change? What ever changes have come from the Goose Island purchase I certainly haven’t noticed in the quality of their product. If anything I would assume the end result of this acquisition would be more along the lines of Duvel acquiring Firestone Walker, increased distribution so more beer can be sold in more places of course leading to more money being made. Maybe I’m wrong but it doesn’t make sense for these massive companies to buy up craft brewers just to change what made them successful. It would just be nice to maintain the feeling of independence with at least one product that I buy on a regular basis. Regardless as more and more breweries get bought up I do think it’s time to redefine what craft beer is. The term craft beer has almost hit a point of buzz word now, and truthfully I’m not even sure seeing a sign that says “craft beer” really attracts my attention anymore. I think its time for me to go back to simply referring to beer as good or bad, regardless of who owns the label on the bottle.
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