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Does it matter who owns the brewery?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by jazzmac, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. Hanzo

    Hanzo Champion (955) Virginia Feb 27, 2012

    I was just curious. I walk into shops around me and have around a thousand different craft beers to choose from, so when I hear about BMC trying to snuff out the little guy I think either it's just BS or they are doing a terrible job at completing that mission.
    GoGators likes this.
  2. Corporate rock still sucks.
    Drink local.
  3. Chrome_Dome

    Chrome_Dome Zealot (95) Ohio Dec 19, 2012

    I'm still developing my opinion on all this. I mean, I know what I think about it, but still adjusting how I govern my actions. I find the 'crafty' methods employed by the big boys to be quite disturbing. From a business perspective, I understand why they do it, but as a consumer, it appears dishonest, and it makes me hesitate to try unfamiliar beers until I've had a chance to research them before purchasing to make sure there's not 'more to the story' of what brewer/distributor information is printed on the case/bottle.

    I'm sure there's more news links that could illustrate my point, but just as some examples, when one compares the biz practices of a company like AB/INBev to those of a company like Boston Brewing...
    http://www.newser.com/story/142953/flailing-anheuser-busch-tries-new-beers-intimidation.html
    http://www.brewbound.com/news/boston-beers-jim-koch-sharing-hop-supply
    Both companies are trying to turn a profit.. but one form of capitalism is obviously more abrasive than the other.. and one form is definitely more humanized than the other.

    Even if all this craft beer culture/local brewing spirit stuff is over-idealized and sappy, i feel it's worth my time to try and educate myself to support even the chance of it being real....
  4. gauldk

    gauldk Aficionado (115) Michigan Apr 12, 2011

    Well it depends where you shop. My local grocery is heavily BMC stuff so their shelf space is limited for craft products whereas my local beer shops would be a challenge to navigate if you wanted to run in and grab a bud light...
  5. Hanzo

    Hanzo Champion (955) Virginia Feb 27, 2012

    Ok, if we are talking about grocery stores you might have me there (though grocery stores in my area are getting progressively better). I guess what I am saying is if BMC is trying to stop craft, they are doing a terrible job thus far if you look at the general popularity and market growth of craft year after year.
  6. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Savant (490) Kentucky Apr 20, 2004

    Yes they are doing a terrible job, but that doesnt mean they arent trying.

    And many of the effects are subtle, things like the way shelves are laid out in a liquor store. Any more, the ones I shop at have separate craft sections, so this doesnt come into play, as the Bud distributor probably gets told to shove it if he tries to tell the owner how to arrange that shelf. But I could still see that as a big deal at grocery stores.
  7. Before this thread gets shut down I'd like to answer your question with a yes, it matters to me. Some things are more important to me than the taste of the beer in the bottle. If your business does things that I personally don't agree with then I am not going to purchase your products, even if they are delicious. Truthfully, everyone has a limit of what they are willing to tolerate from a company, where that limit is varies greatly. I am not a fan of some of the things Abinbev does, as such I don't buy any of their products (including anything from Goose Island). If you do buy Goose Island brews, or any Abinbev brews for that matter, I don't judge you, I don't look down my nose at you and I won't try to change you. That is your personal purchasing decision and you're entitled to it, just as I am entitled to my purchasing decisions.

    EDIT: Let me further add that I am well aware that I support a number of companies that have questionable business practicess. I pay a mortgage that's owned by a huge bank, I drive a car that was made by a huge company and I am typing on a computer that is owned by another huge company (not that the size of a company automatically means they do awful things, there are plenty of small business with questionable behaviors, but that's another conversation entirely). All of these companies may have pulled sketchy moves before, I recognize that. I know I can't live "100% off the grid" so to speak, but that doesn't stop me from working towards being a consumer that supports business I believe in exclusively. In other words, I know I have supported and am currently supporting businesses that do things I don't agree with, but that is not an excuse to just support every company no matter what, without asking any questions. Becoming a more educated consumer and working hard towards limiting the amount of dollars that goes to these companies is a worthwhile endeavor and in my eyes and I think it is important to strive for such.
    frazbri, jacksback and JediMatt like this.
  8. Yeah. Of course. I just had a meltdown.
  9. So AB/InBev and MillerCoors have each been around more than 120 years building a vast infrastructure of distribution channels, employing millions of workers and spending billions of $ over that time promoting their products and establishing brand names but a little 2 year old brewer gets butt hurt when they can't get their marginal product on the shelf at the local grocery store?

    Sounds like an entitlement issue.
  10. There are many car lines made in the USA, made by US, German, Japanese, and Korean companies. Just saying.

    Now there are even a German beer brand made here (Becks), and an English beer (Bass).
  11. Thads324

    Thads324 Savant (390) Connecticut Jan 21, 2010

    I feel the same way. Well said
    You can't avoid it 100%. Gasoline is a great example that has been brought up. But food and craft beer can certainly be bought based on personal principles and moral understanding.
    I don't buy BMC products, including goose. I buy local when able to, and if I can support a local family business over some corporate jackoffasauer i will!
    JediMatt and Providence like this.
  12. Apologies for the off topic bits, but... it would be far more accurate to say there are plenty of cars "assembled" in the US. The parts are made all over the world... hence, the actual "making" of the car happens all over the place. Hence (pt. 2) to "impossible to buy an entirely american made car" bit.

    There are exceptions, but they tend to be on the high end, niche side.

    And to bring it full circle... I can easily get a beer from a small independent brewery where I know who makes the money. That's something I can't entirely do when buying a car.
  13. JediMatt

    JediMatt Aficionado (210) Iowa Jun 18, 2010

    That's a nice generalization there. I personally don't buy Rogue products either because of reports on how they treat their employees poorly. I have no agenda with "big guy" companies. Only companies that I feel don't match up to my own personal ethics. At the end of the day, the only way I can really vote is with my wallet. I try to make that decision anytime I feel I have facts enough to do so. /shrug
    SammyJaxxxx and Providence like this.
  14. As is often the case, someone else tends to be able to spell out my thoughts a bit more clearly!

    And, while this may actually weaken my point overall... it's so damn easy to "win" this battle when it comes to craft beer. We have TONS of small, independently owned and operated breweries all over this country, many of them pumping out solid beers. I can avoid the conglomerate-owned breweries easily... so yeah, it is easy to go the whole "small, independent, etc." route when it comes to beer.

    OK by me.
  15. I think it would be better to say ABInbev is trying to control the beer market, not necessarily "snuff out" craft breweries. And via the 3 tier system, ABInbev already has a lot of control over the beer market as a whole. Their forays into craft beer suggest they are also trying to control that market as well, not snuff out all the breweries.

    And the fewer entities controlling any market, the less choice (eventually) and options consumers have.
    Providence likes this.
  16. Hanzo

    Hanzo Champion (955) Virginia Feb 27, 2012

    You want to know where your money goes when you buy a product, so I was just pointing out how you (and most of us) are ok with China getting your money but not evil beer conglomerates.
  17. Even a Porsche is not assembled from all German parts.

    If you can tell me of any car entirely made in one country, I would be very surprised.

    Edit - In craft there a beers made from imported ingredients. Hops and malt is what I am talking about, so are those beers all American. Many of the US brewers on the west coast will use malt from Canada.
  18. Hanzo

    Hanzo Champion (955) Virginia Feb 27, 2012

    Right, that's basically what I am saying, they already control distribution, yet we still have thousands of options available. And I certainly can't fault them for making "craft" style offshoots to compete. Where I do draw the line is they should have to label the bottle to show who really brews the beer, not whatever company they create to throw people off.
  19. I think, however, that the larger questions people who do not agree with your line (and my line for that matter) of reasoning is "Why is it so bad for money to go to huge conglomerates?" AND "Why is it so great for money to go to small mom and pop businesses?" The answers to both questions sometimes is "It's not." There are large businesses that engage in tremendous amounts of philanthropic giving (more than just what the PR folk tell them they ought to do, less they look like assholes) and support various community endeavors. Additionally, there are plenty of mom and pop shops that will do shitty things to get ahead. To know which companies do what, you need lots of information. We, as beer nerds, we have access to lots of information about the companies that sell beer! In order to make these informed decisions you need this type of information. The information I have been privy to has informed me that while companies like Dogfish Head, Sierra Nevada, Long Trail, Brooklyn Brewery, etc. are MOST CERTAINLY CONCERNED WITH THEIR BOTTOM LINE AS THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY, they also have an overall commitment to the craft movement in general. AB/inbev on the other hand, has shown me that they are EXCLUSIVELY concerned with their bottom line and nothing more. They are not committed to the craft beer scenes advancements, unless of course they are the ones that own the craft beer (noticing that the craft movement isn't going to stop, they have began their acquisition of craft breweries willing to sell, ie Goose Island). This topic, is a fundamental element to such debates.
  20. I'm not ok with any of money going to china. Sometimes there is no choice.
  21. Isn't that the exact point I made in that post?

    And as far as beer ingredients go... well, yeah, that demonstrates the grey areas/difficulty. I know that, for example, Jack's Abbey TRIES to use as many locally grown ingredients as possible. But yeah, I bet they ship in/import some grains and hops as well.

    But again, if we get that far into the weeds, then we run into the problem otispdriftwood and I were going back and forth about- with the current global market, it's next to impossible to find many goods that are ENTIRELY local and independent.
  22. Well said. It's about acquiring knowledge about the companies, which is time consuming and you have to want to do it. Not everyone thinks this is important and that's fine (I am sure someone is going to chime in mockingly to say, "I can see Providence on his Iphone at the supermarket trying to find out the ethical business practices of the company that makes his toilet paper, ha ha ha"). If a mom and pop brewery in RI does something like cook the books on payroll, making sure they don't have to pay time and a half to their workers, then I am going to toss the middle finger their way all the same. It's not just a matter of hating on the big guys and loving the little guys no questions asked. It's about supporting companies that mirror the values you have as an individual, regardless of their size/influence.
  23. As SammyJaxx noted- I'm not OK with my money going to China. But in many ways, I simply can't avoid it without going entirely off the grid.
    Heck, as suggested earlier, I'm not OK with my money going to big oil companies, but shit, propose me a way to avoid that!!

    Right now, sure.

    But what about in 10 years, when 50 more craft breweries have been bought out, and ABINbev has control over even more distributor avenues and shelf space? I don't know the results then... as no one does. But it's a trend I'd rather NOT see come to fruition.


    I hope the Bros, as annoyed as they must occasionally get by these threads nowadays, don't delete or close this one. Some pretty quality discussion here, and it seems we all agree on ONE thing- this is an issue that IS relevant to craft beer, whatever your stance.
    sleeponthestairs and Providence like this.
  24. We all know Providence gives a shit.

    ;)
    SammyJaxxxx likes this.
  25. Agreed, good conversation, hopefully it stays civil and doesn't get nuked. This is clearly a relevant beer-related issue that peaks a lot of BA's interest.

    To your earlier point, I too am concerned with the beer seen in 10, 15, 20+ years. What if Abinbev buys out some more big ones? Critics of this line of reasoning will say, "Yeah, but it takes two to tango, someone's got to sell their brewery for Abinbev to acquire it." Agreed. But the more ABinbev controls craft the more they can squeeze shelf space and tap handles, as money buys influence in that arena. And if your brewery is constantly losing shelf space and taps at the same time Abinbev approaches you with a blank check, a smile and a promise of "you'll still get to control the recipes", well it's gonna be damn tempting to sell.
  26. Hanzo

    Hanzo Champion (955) Virginia Feb 27, 2012

    What are they making that could possibly threaten good craft beer though? Shock Top? Blue Moon? While those brands are huge they are only really being bought by people already drinking BMC that want something a little different. Hell one could argue Blue Moon and Shock Top variants are gateway beers that could lead people to wanting to try even more different beers eventually leading to them buying craft.
  27. I think that Goose Island is the test case for AB/InBev. Once they see that they are successful with GI they will look to takeover several other craft breweries. Apparently, they already made overtures to Lagunitas. Once they have a portfolio of 5 or 6 good quality craft breweries, they will be able to take over most of the craft shelf space in stores and taps in bars. Your craft store that now carries fifty brands will only have space for twenty.

    At least that would be my plan if I was running AB/InBev
    abkayak likes this.
  28. I agree that Blue Moon and Shock Top could be brews that lead drinkers to craft brews. But if Abinbev owns those craft brews that these folks jump to then the money goes to the same company that is making it difficult for someone like, Jack's Abby (for a random example), to get a tap handle at a bar.

    Think of it like this: Joe is a Bud Light drinker, has been for ever. All his beer money goes to AB/inbev. He rolls the dice one night and buys Shock Top. He falls in love and drinks the shit out of it for a year. All his beer money goes to AB/inbev. Then, one night down the road he says to himself, "hey what's this Honker's Ale? I jumped from Bud Light to Shock Top and loved it, maybe I will love this jump too?" He buys the honkers and loves it. All his beer money goes to AB/inbev. He graduates to Goose Island IPA and eventually to BCBS. ALL HIS BEER MONEY GOES TO AB/INBEV. This is how Abinbev wants it. They don't really care what type of beer you drink at this point, they just want to make sure they own whatever you're buying.

    Beer lovers, like us on BA, will always search out the best tasting beers regardless of what company. If brewery X puts out a better Wheatwine than brewery Y then BA's are going to brewery X for their wheatwines. But what if there is no brewery Y? What if there is only brewery X? Some small brewery will answer that demand, of course, it's only natural in an economic system such as ours. But how long will they last if they have to compete with the company that takes measures to make sure they don't succeed?

    PS: Wheatwines blow.
    jacksback likes this.
  29. And the craft they will gateway to is the craft that AB/InBev owns. Because that same store will not have room for anything other AB/InBev beers.
  30. Responsible Consumerism Works. Your wallet speaks louder than any social medium.
    SammyJaxxxx likes this.
  31. I don't know if it would be legal, probably state specific, but what about a Blue Moon 12 pack with 3 free beers a Honker, 312 and ______. That is the eay way to transtition someone from Blue Moon to GI or whatever other crafter brewers they acquire.
  32. Hanzo

    Hanzo Champion (955) Virginia Feb 27, 2012

    Eh, I just don't see that happening unless they start buying up a ton of craft breweries which I don't see happening right now. All I know is craft sections in stores I shop at are getting bigger by the day and I am seeing taps going away from BMC and towards craft because that is what the customer wants. Does that mean there aren't sports bars out there will all BMC? Sure there are....but for every one of them I see one that is moving to craft.
  33. I thought I was referring to a high end niche vehicle? Still waiting for an example of one that is made with all local parts. Edit - if you know cars, you can bet the chips in the engine control modules are from all over the world. The wire for valve springs comes from Japan, when there was the earthquake in Kobe/Osaka, most car companies were very worried about the supply of that wire.
    As you say, with the global market, stuff is sourced from all over.
  34. They don't need to buy a ton. They need to pick up 4 or 5.
  35. Craft sections growing doesn't equal ABinbev losing. You're measuring this in the wrong way. ABinbev has all the money in the world, if they take a hit from a craft brewery that's gained interest they don't cower in the corner. They go out and try to buy that brewery or at least one similar. That process has begun. If you "just don't see it happening," fine, I can't argue with that. You're free to interpret these events however you'd like.
  36. I fully understand the whole AB/Inbev dilemna and their unsavory business practices, but we can't blame them for everything. Its time for some of these restaurants/bars/bottle shops to grow some balls and also educate themselves as to what good beer is and start carrying some "independent" craft beers if that is what they want to do. Using AB/InBev as an excuse for a bar or liquor stores continual poor selection is just not always fair.
    Providence likes this.
  37. I'm looking for good quality beer. I also want to support smaller brewers because I like supporting innovation and competition. However, ultimately, it comes down to the quality of the beer. I'm not going to drink bad craft beer and I'm not going to drink bad BMC beer. I've had some drain pours from small craft brewers too.
  38. "Legal" for whom? Blue Moon is a MillerCoors product and Goose Island is owned by Anheuser Busch - so the breweries or their different distributors wouldn't be putting together such a variety pack. In states where it is legal to sell singles, a retailer could create such a package but probably wouldn't make their wholesale suppliers happy or make much sense, given the trouble and expense of hand assembling a variety box. Why not just offer singles and let the customer do the mixing/sampling.
  39. At some point, BMC will be like Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad. They will offer big contracts to lure some top notch craft brewers to a big, fancy brewery to produce top quality goods.

    They don't need to buy small breweries and overpay for the Brands or the infrastructure.
  40. Wow... Reading this thread is awesome. It's funny that people will build a house with foreign made materials, using illegal immigrant workers, driving an imported car running on foreign import gas to go to eat at a food chain that is owned by an overseas company... but that $3 you spend on a pint of your local craft beer is MAKING A FUCKING STAND.... please....

    Not calling anyone in particular out on this thread at all, it's just that there is a big picture here that seems to be missed. Buy what YOU want to buy, with $ that YOU earned and spend $ on what YOU want. Who cares what everyone else thinks.
    DrLasers likes this.

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