Why Anheuser-Busch’s Purchase of 10 Barrel Brewing Is Bad for the Industry


Yesterday the news that Anheuser-Busch was acquiring Bend-based 10 Barrel Brewing sent ripples throughout the entire industry. Most of the comments I read, both on 10 Barrel’s facebook page and in reply to The New School’s story, expressed shock, disappointment, and even anger. In the midst of all this, a few commentators and critics backed the acquisition as just another part of doing business, a sign of the times that craft beer is becoming big business. They are not wrong in reminding us all that this is a business and that beer quality likely will remain the same. If you’re one of these people, I must posit that you may be out of touch with craft beer consumers. Most of them are turning their backs on 10 Barrel not because they fear for the brand’s quality, but because they don’t want to fuel mega conglomerations that are increasingly controlling the world.

We are at a time in history where people crave authenticity and fear that big business will ruin the small empire we have built. Some people can ignore where their money goes, how a business is run, and who it benefits, especially if they like the product. Many of us–myself included–cannot, as evidenced by my twitter stream:

Oregon Tr’Ale Gear @OregonTrAleGear
@timhohl @PDXBIZJournal  We’ve been big fans of @10BarrelBrewing , but feels unsavory to support AB when so many other great OR IPAs exist.

Tony Coulombe @tonynw318
dont understand the fury over 10 barrel stuff? imagine the owner of the Sounders buying the Timbers too? thats what it feels like 4 fans

Josh Gates @JoshGatesPDX
Sold to Anheuser-Busch before opening in #PDX? I do not like this. Guessing hardcore beer folk won’t either.

cwatkiii @c_watkiii
WAS excited for their #pdx opening but no longer

Krista Skucas @kskucas
@NewSchoolBeer Boycott our new AB InBev establishment about to land in Portland!

On facebook and other forums, it was even worse, like this one pulled from Willamette Week:

One more step in the “beginning of the end” of the microbrewery revolution. This is truly saddening to hear.

Or this one from The New School’s original story:

November 5, 2014 at 10:56 pm
Fuck Budweiser and fuck 10 barrel the god damned sell outs.

Some people describe Anheuser-Busch/InBev as an “evil” corporation; this gives the company too much credit. A publicly traded company with a board of directors only cares about one thing, and that is making money. Corporations are in fact treated as people under 19th century US law, and therefore

“the corporation is a psychopath. Like all psychopaths, the firm is singularly self-interested: its purpose is to create wealth for its shareholders. And, like all psychopaths, the firm is irresponsible, because it puts others at risk to satisfy its profit-maximising goal, harming employees and customers, and damaging the environment. The corporation manipulates everything. It is grandiose, always insisting that it is the best, or number one. It has no empathy, refuses to accept responsibility for its actions and feels no remorse. It relates to others only superficially, via make-believe versions of itself manufactured by public-relations consultants and marketing men. In short, if the metaphor of the firm as person is a valid one, then the corporation is clinically insane.” – The Economist

A-B’s purchase of 10 Barrel Brewing, like its purchase of Goose Island, won’t likely directly lead to any decrease in the brand’s quality for now, but history and logic can lead us safely to conclude that when the company’s margins are dipping and management is trying to squeeze a dime out of a nickel, they won’t be afraid to cut costs, be that from ingredients or staff. Commentators arguing that this is a good thing or just part of the business remind me of financial advisers before Wall Street screwed all of us over, only when it comes to big beer no one will bail you out. I saw some pundits commenting that many brewery owners may dream of cashing out. I fear that is true, and if it is, we could be looking at a bust similar to the dot-com bubble of the late 90s. Mark my words, business owners getting into the beer business just to make a buck will be the doom of us all. America does not need more big regional brewers with bottles in every supermarket! We need more local brewpubs in every neighborhood. Gathering places for friends and family to meet over well crafted ales and lagers, not a 6-pack of cans from Newport available in Florida.

10 Barrel Brewing is famous for its all-star stable of brewers, from Jimmy Seifrit, who used to be at Deschutes, to the industry’s most famous award-winning female brewmaster, Tonya Cornett, to big daddy Shawn Kelso. To beer geeks, having these innovative brewers behind the wheel is everything, but to an international company like InBev, these are simply replaceable employees. What do they need to pay Tonya Cornett a big salary for? They already have her award winning Cucumber Crush recipe! Do you think A-B will value those employees who crafted a great beer? Do not kid yourself! Can you name one well-known brewer from one of the macros?? I guarantee you they have fantastic world-class brewers but they are anonymous worker bees in a colony of millions. Business-focused columnists equate those upset about the purchase to naive hippies who do not understand how business works. I would argue it’s passionate consumers who got into craft beer because the dollar and price was not the bottom line. I do not begrudge anyone for getting rich, but once the industry starts to become more about making money then making beer, it’s doomed. Again, these business commentators will say capitalism is good, “greed is good,” but they either forgot or never really realized the popularity of craft beer or microbrew hinges upon the fact that it is made by people, not corporations, and for the love of the craft, not the money.

Here is a quote left on facebook by the former National Sales Manager for Ninkasi Brewing, Marty Ochs:

“Good For Them, but how did you not see this coming? REALLY? Owners are the sons of a former A-B Wholesaler, Business was built as an investment piece from the get go, rebranding became non-descript to distance from location, they are only in A-B houses, A-B houses put a full court press on the brand for two years, AB internally was shopping for a brand for 4 years now, A-B is looking to solidify the I-5 corridor of distributor ownership (Olympic Eagle will fall soon!), and the cost of competing regionally as well as nationally is not possible without this sort of investment, see Reyes and the Laguinitas relationship. People thought Ninkasi would fall, but they cost too much, this was a smarter move.”

Marty is right, and that’s what scares me. How many Coors Light swilling “entrepreneurs” are watching this whole 10 Barrel acquisition with dollar signs in their eyes and plans to open “craft” breweries in the next few years?

Those who argue it would be bad business for InBev to fuck with a good thing might be right in the short term, but what happens when growth slows and sales are stagnant? Corporations do not care about quality, they care about profit; craft brewers are profitable now, but things will inevitably slow. What happens then? Take, for instance, the fact that Budweiser and most macro beer sales are way way down, BUT A-B is still hugely profitable. How is that? Through cost-cutting and continuous growth and acquisitions that open up new markets. Trust me, these guys will happily stick it to anyone if it means their quarterly profits are up and the board is not going to have to answer to shareholders. Just look at the way Wall Street sold out the U.S. economy to get rich quickly, never looking past the next few years of earnings results. Just earlier this year Anheuser-Busch bought out Portland-based beer distributor Morgan Distributing, and rumors suggest the company wanted the larger Maletis Beverage. Promptly after the purchase, A-B had Morgan dump all of its craft brands. A-B is with one hand gently swooping up its biggest long-term competitors and with the other hand sweeping them under the rug. Why is A-B even allowed to purchase distributors? The Three Tier System set in place after the repeal of prohibition is supposed to stop that from happening, but every state defines how these rules work differently, and A-B has a history of owning its distributors and using them to push around the smaller brewers.

Quoth National Branding and Marketing Strategist Mark Reber on our initial story on the acquisition:

“The quote by the InBev guy says it all because it says nothing about beer. “We see tremendous value in the brewery’s unique offerings and differentiated style.” That’s little more than marketing-speak. Value. Differentiation. This is, fundamentally, the problem when small, artisanal businesses sell to the largest players. The buyer wants the brand the the alleged value. In this case, to grab more shelf space. And, given the successes that 10 Barrel has enjoyed, why sell now? Why at all? I certainly wouldn’t suggest that they miss an opportunity to cash out, but the deal seems premature.”

InBev is not just targeting the smaller craft brewers, it is trying to control the entire game. The company swooped up Grupo Modelo last year, and rumors suggest SABMiller is next. The only significant piece of the pie the conglomerate might not be able to acquire is Molson-Coors due to DOJ antitrust laws. Regardless, if InBev controls the whole industry, then the next step is making it as profitable as possible, and that will not happen by raising the quality of beer. Talk to any brewmaster of the old guard, say Larry Sidor, who know owns Crux and once brewed at Olympia, and he would tell you these breweries once made a decent if not fine American lager that most would be proud of, but when the time comes to cut costs the recipes change and cheaper ingredients are used. If and when A-B-InBev has control of the vast majority of the industry, the company will be forced–forced–to find new ways of making the company profitable and anything will be on the table, first and foremost the less profitable craft brewers. There is a reason why the big guys have only recently turned their attention to the small brewers: the industry was not profitable enough because brewers were doing it for fun and for passion. Buyouts like this call that exact passion that made American Craft Beer what it is today into question.

Proven methods the macro brewers have used to make beer more profitable: Bud was once known for using whole leaf hops, but years ago switched to extracts, leaving hop farmers with a huge surplus. Large brewers also use cheaper adjuncts like corn and rice to boost the alcohol and cut costs, brew a base beer for multiple brands that tastes the same and is slightly changed by adding water or salts to alter ABV or mouthfeel. Can you imagine if your favorite IPA was the same as the Double IPA, only literally watered down?

This article is not about 10 Barrel Brewing Co. It’s about the future of the beer industry and how it is impacted by decisions like this. I will continue to drink good 10 Barrel beers, the brewery employs some great people who don’t deserve to be blacklisted. According to rumors, 10 Barrel was heavily in debt, so perhaps the owners had to sell or were looking at a paycheck so big they could not say “no.” I cannot judge them personally. I must admit, I never really understood legendary publican Don Younger’s famous line, “It’s not about the beer, it’s about the beer,” but I think I do now. I think what he was saying is it’s not about that alcohol in your glass, it’s about the people, the community, the friends, and the family that create this art form and those we enjoy it with; that the beer is something greater than the water, malt, yeast, and hops in your glass. In the grand scheme of things, the A-B 10 Barrel purchase is but a tiny ripple, but to quote, of all people, Bruce Lee, ”When you drop a pebble in a pond you get ripples, soon that ripple fills the whole pond.” I am no Chicken Little screaming about the sky falling just yet, but if we see something bad coming this way 10 years from now, I won’t be polite enough not to say, “I told you so.”


Brewbound quotes 10 Barrel co-owner Jeremy Cox,
“We had some challenges growing the business,” he said “About three months ago, we realized we needed to find a strategic partner to help us with that.”

That would seem to suggest they were doing ok but just wanted to get even bigger. Disappointing they could not find a way to do it on their own or be content where they were.

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com


  • Mickey Smarte
    Mickey Smarte
    Thu Nov 6, 2014 1:54 PM

    Ah the ‘cheaper adjuncts’ canard. Rice is 5 times the price of barley, so in what way is it a cheap adjunct? The use of rice and corn was a necessity in 19th century brewing to cut the protein of 6-row barley (you could call it an innovation).

    • Samurai Artist
      Samurai Artist
      Thu Nov 6, 2014 7:27 PM

      Your right, now it’s corn sugar instead of rice.

      • Marc Martin
        Marc Martin
        Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:33 PM

        Rice on the international market is not 5X the price of barley. AB uses the lowest quality rice sugar available !!

      • Joseph Cooley
        Joseph Cooley
        Thu Nov 6, 2014 2:32 PM

        Great article. Let’s hope they stay hands off but its still unfortunae that they have to answer to stockholders instead of the consumers.

        • Alan
          Thu Nov 6, 2014 3:57 PM

          “If you’re one of these people, I must posit that you may be out of touch with craft beer consumers.”

          I’d respectfully argue the exact opposite. Being so connected to the industry, whether as a writer, worker, or devoted connoisseur, one tends to adopt insular views and opinions. We start to incorrectly assume every other craft beer drinker has the same appreciation and knowledge we do.

          It is just as likely the majority of craft beer drinkers don’t know about this news, don’t care about this news and have no interest in changing their habits.

          Sure, if you ask them directly they’ll say they proudly support local. But if you watch them from a distance without any prodding, they’ll make choices solely by what tastes good to them.

          The opinions you quote may indeed reflect the opinions of those who are highly invested in craft beer. But they may very well not reflect the average craft beer drinker or their habits.

          • Samurai Artist
            Samurai Artist
            Thu Nov 6, 2014 7:26 PM

            Have you not looked on 10 Barrel’s twitter page or Facebook post? If anything I am the moderate on my feelings.

            • Alan
              Sat Nov 8, 2014 3:01 AM

              That’s my point. If your frame of reference is the relatively few people who are angry enough to write those kinds of things on a facebook or twitter page, you’re ignoring the vast majority of people drinking craft beer who aren’t. (By “your,” I’m speaking in the general sense, not specific to you.)

              The same thing happened to Goose Island. The same thing happened to Magic Hat when they took on West Sixth over trademark issues. Heck, in my state, Big Sky Brewing got “hammered” on facebook in 2013 when they supported a legislative action most craft beer fans despised. Even most craft beer insiders aren’t even aware that happened.

              Guess what’s happened to the sales for all three?

              My only point being, the more you’re invested in the craft beer “movement,” the less likely you have the pulse of the “average” person buying it.

              • Samurai Artist
                Samurai Artist
                Sat Nov 8, 2014 10:00 AM

                I guess if your point is most people wont know or care…I am not arguing that. I am sure they will expand into other states where no one knows anything about this. In Oregon though, and with beer geeks they are going to lose a lot.

          • Paul Arney
            Paul Arney
            Thu Nov 6, 2014 4:55 PM

            Nice, Ezra!

            I wish that the Cox bros. would just come out & say ‘it’s for the money’. I’d accept that much more than the current spin that (I beleive) is driving the furor. Might I offer that a reliable method of verifying integrity is to source beer from brewer-owned companies? In order for us brewers to bring our trade into the future, we need to be in control. Focus on the craft & making a living vs. big britches & fortunes yield beer we can believe in.

            • Val
              Thu Nov 6, 2014 5:00 PM

              Agreed. 2015 could the start The Craft Bubble. 2016 will be scary. It’s hard to argue big $$. It’s better to argue PASSION and still be broke. Nice piece. Dollars to donuts…Swill will be THE huge first push across the country tobrivel Leini’s Shandy and Blue Moon. shitty.

              • Rick Boyd
                Rick Boyd
                Thu Nov 6, 2014 6:12 PM

                Great post. I would add though that I think this acquisition and many more like it that are coming was made to benefit AB’s wholesalers. As Bud Light sales lag and craft sales soar Bud houses are left with limited portfolios. If you leave it to each house to go out and recruit craft brands they will have limited success and will always be at risk of someone stealing them away. If AB acquires craft brands, puts them in those houses the wholesalers have a stable portfolio, no wasted energy negotiating deals only to have them fall apart and AB gets a chunk of the profits. This was done to keep wholesalers happy with AB. Expect to see more regional brands scooped up in the coming months for this very reason.

                • ryan whitehead
                  ryan whitehead
                  Thu Nov 6, 2014 6:22 PM

                  Some more rigor would be good here. I don’t know where I fall on the “good for the ‘industry'” or “bad for the ‘industry'” arguement but I try to remain unbiased. There is obvious deep bias here that becomes apparent when you say people offering any positive comments remind you of people who defend financial advisers on wall street that “screwed all of us over.” It’s a bit of alarmist rhetoric that doesn’t enlighten – I doubt the author is really deeply versed in Wall Street’s workings or how the screwed ALL of us (I wasn’t particularly screwed). It’s just a convenient bogeyman.

                  To pick out a few things that seem off:

                  1. “Mega conglomerations that are increasingly controlling the world”. Really? I look at Nike and the dominance they had of running shoes 15 years ago … and now I see people wearing Newton, Altra, Karhu, Inov-8, Olukai, Vibram, Spira, Honka One One, etc. There’s never been a more diverse set of options available to runners. I look at beer … and I see the same thing. Thousands more breweries, endless options, shrinking share for the large companies. I would guess that a rigorous analysis of this statement would show that in most consumer facing industries there is more choic, not less, than ever and more options to go with niche brands. Just look at how many types of toothpaste are available at Whole Foods, for example … herbal, organic, etc. I would also bet that no corporation currently in existence controls as large a piece of global trade the Dutch East India Company or the South Sea Co. Let’s get real; mega-corporations are NOT increasingly controlling the world.

                  2. OK, so assume that big companies are losing ground. The article seems to presume that all they have to do to reverse that trend … is buy other companies. It also presumes that companies will act in the future how they’ve acted in the past … regardless of changing consumer preferences and trends. The customer, in your model, is either powerless or their only power is to spend money elsewhere. That is false. Time will tell but my understanding of previous acquisitions reveals that success comes from respecting your consumer and staying true to product. There are many examples of this outside of beer so I’m not sure why we’d presume it couldn’t happen within beer. Rarely do people buy a brand to dilute and destroy it. In the recent economic downturn did BMW or Mercedes start compromising on quality to sell more vehicles or did they realize that this would destroy their brand? The “No Logo” world is outmoded. Brands are consumer handles. What I mean by this is that they are ways for consumers to exert pressure and control upwards. Think of Nike and child labor or Apple and Chinese sweatshops. Would consumers have been able to get insight into corporate practices or exert pressure and create change on generic brands? No. That’s a meaningful improvement.

                  3. “America does not need more big regional brewers with bottles in every supermarket! We need more local brewpubs in every neighborhood.” Bullshit. And why is this an either / or? America needs both. I presume you’re in Oregon? Visit Oklahoma, North Dakota, Louisiana, most of Texas … or even rural eastern Oregon and Washington. There is an intense need for more large, high quality, regional brewers. And then I suspect the two are intertwined. Say the rockstar brewers you mention do leave 10 Barrel. Are they going to stop brewing? Leave Oregon? Join an established brewery? My “money” would be on them starting another “local brewpub.” And then what happens at 10 Barrel? They hire another young brewer that gets to hone their chops and then, hopefully, go on and open their own business. How many of Oregon’s small breweries have their roots in bigger regional breweries? How many have spent time at Deschutes or Pelican or elsewhere? How many small breweries have been spawned by Goose Island’s ex-brewers? Now that InBev has purchased 10 Barrel do they have the appetite and ability to buy Boneyard, GoodLife, Worthy, Silver Moon, Bend Brewing, Dechutes, and so on, and really kill off choice?

                  4. You argue that InBev, being driven by profit motive, has no incentive to keep star talent around … but then, using a quote from Marty Ochs, argue that 10 Barrel was profit driven to begin with. So … why did THEY have an incentive to hire great talent and keep them around? Seems that profit motive isn’t automatically anti-thetical to talent. Could it be that in the world of increasingly educated and discerning craft beer drinkers, known talent is a good thing and a route to both better product and more profit? Is there such a thing as a positive sum game in your universe or is it always zero sum. Look at Stone. Do they benefit from having Greg Koch as a personality? What about Dogfish and Sam Calagirone? And though not true rock star brewers, what about Ken Grossman and Jim Koch? What about Brett Porter at Goose Island? And Dark Horse getting a TV show? Though I know the focus was true macro’s, it seems that your argument about anonymous brewers at big breweries is becoming more and more outdated.

                  5. Using quotes from social media to summarize public opinion is hardly definitive. I know, they’re meant to be illustrative … but about half the article is devoted to them. I’d tentatively guess that the majority of people that drink 10 barrel beers either don’t know that this happened or don’t care. Are the outraged going to be more vocal? I presume so, but I wouldn’t base my arguement on it. I know many people that gladly gobble up BCBS and have no idea it’s an InBev company. As long as consumers vote for quality with their $s, big beer will have no choice but to adopt improved quality or continue to lose ground. Look at how the Goose Island acquisition has started to revitalize the Elk Mountain hop farm. I’m not optimistic about corporations; I’m optimistic about the power of consumers. To presume that corporations can simply buy their way into our hearts & minds (and mouths) is to presume consumer has little to no power.

                  I’m playing devil’s advocate here. I’m not sure where I stand on the issue but I find an opinion piece that masquerades as objective but is loaded with phrases like “trust me” to be deserving of skepticism.

                  • Samurai Artist
                    Samurai Artist
                    Thu Nov 6, 2014 10:06 PM

                    Frankly I didnt make it through your entire comment but I have to respond to your claim you were not really screwed by Wall Street. Maybe they did not personally fuck you over but if you have paid attention to our economy and many of our issues you would know they have screwed anyone who lives here over.

                    • Memo Uribe
                      Memo Uribe
                      Thu Nov 6, 2014 11:01 PM

                      Love your response. I liked the first essay, then I was going to make reply his point of view.

                      the bottom line, they both are business, to make money. If you make beer and you sell it, deal with the world.

                    • Greg Krsak
                      Greg Krsak
                      Thu Nov 6, 2014 7:20 PM

                      Ezra, this is your best article.

                      • Samurai Artist
                        Samurai Artist
                        Thu Nov 6, 2014 10:04 PM

                        wow, thank you.

                      • Dave
                        Thu Nov 6, 2014 7:28 PM

                        I applaud this article.

                        • cbob
                          Thu Nov 6, 2014 8:22 PM

                          Thank you for a well thought out article with many valid points. While I understand the reaction, the majority of all the reactions I read range from childish to snobish. No one cares if joe schmoe will not longer drink 10 Barrel because they are sell outs. There are likely plenty of others who will take their place. If you don’t want to support a giant – great! I get it. But like I said, it’s nice to read a well thought out reaction. Thanks for the article.

                          • MICHAEL DEYO
                            MICHAEL DEYO
                            Thu Nov 6, 2014 9:56 PM


                            • Mark
                              Thu Nov 6, 2014 10:02 PM

                              I wondered if their growth debt plus the recall debacle from last year put them in a “sell or die” situation.. Too bad they are now part of AB versus getting together with another OR brewery. Sigh..

                              • Samurai Artist
                                Samurai Artist
                                Thu Nov 6, 2014 10:43 PM

                                UPDATE: Brewbound quotes 10 Barrel co-owner Jeremy Cox,
                                “We had some challenges growing the business,” he said “About three months ago, we realized we needed to find a strategic partner to help us with that.”

                                That would seem to say they were doing ok but just wanted to get even bigger. Disappointing they could not find a way to do it on their own or be content where they were.

                                • Brian Yaeger
                                  Brian Yaeger
                                  Thu Nov 6, 2014 10:48 PM

                                  Small caveat to Paul Arney’s comment above. What he’s doing with Ale Apothecary is both amazing and an anomaly. I have zero problem where a brewing company has one or more owners and one or more brewers. In fact, in most cases, I’d applaud that. Because the problem with some (many?) brewer-owned breweries is that both sides of the brain don’t aline to run a perfectly greased machine. MAKING great beer and SELLING great beer are not always synonymous. It takes both sides of the brain to make this industry work; it requires brewing AND business acumen. Arney runs his company exactly how he wants it. It’s a model that would not/could not work for 99% of the breweries out there. But please don’t mistake this to mean I’m ever in favor of an AB-InBev type operator coming in. Because that shit’s bunk.

                                  • marty ochs
                                    marty ochs
                                    Sat Nov 8, 2014 4:26 AM

                                    I apologize in advance for the lengthy comment, but there are corrections to be made in my quote and 6 points I tried to expand upon.

                                    1. I replied on a friends FB post and may or may not have had a beer before hand, which puts me on par with Sarah Palin and one of her rants. FB is good for fart jokes and pictures of vacations, nothing else that is good will come of it. Ezra chose to use the rant, as he may, but it is clear that some of my points need a deeper dive and in no way are they meant to disparage 10 Barrel or those that agree or disagree with their move. Who am I to judge.

                                    2. I still believe it was a great move by Garrett and the Cox Brothers. I wish we could all be appreciated for our work and paid well for it. I don’t like ABI, but I don’t want to toil forever when a goal cannot be met, and their goal is bigger than being a local brewpub or a 2k bbl uber local brewer.

                                    3. Ninkasi was courted, like many breweries their size, by many investors, but it was not for sale as long as I was there or as far as I know.

                                    4. This story should really be about how ABI needed diversification of their portfolio through regional brand acquisition to create far greater returns outside of the home market of the purchased brand, which said brand could never have accomplished in this current environment. To be more precise, it is about vertical alignment of supply chain management with go to market strategies that will take shelf space from local craft. ABI is buying up i5 corridor distributor houses, watch the next two in WA to go soon and then LA to OR will be the target. ABI and SAB will obliterate the three tier system to match their business model in over seas markets that they are used to operating in and our business friendly elected officials will accept cash to allow them to do so. ABI SAB and large distributor networks (Reyes, etc) will challenge any brewery above 15 – 40bbls to risk success outside of their home market without tied house type of investment. If ABI & SAB networks can control the mass market, they will let the rest of craft fight for the cannibalization of rotating taps and small shelf space in independent neighborhood off prem. They essentially are turning the craft scene into the music label scene, which did not go well.

                                    5. We probably will not see another Ninkasi that will grow outside of its region without overt or covert investment, leaving craft geeks happy about uber local offerings but handcuffing those same uber craft brewers to prosper.

                                    6. Support your local bar and store that supports local craft and fight the good fight but don’t hate due to ego, emotion, or ignorance.

                                    • heater
                                      Sat Nov 8, 2014 4:08 PM

                                      i understand not wanting to support big business. love the quote from the economist. love it. psychopaths.

                                      but your rant on quality regarding AB is shows you dont know a whole lot. have you ever been to one of there facilities? you could eat off the floor! everything is state of the art. half of brewing is the equipment. you could produce the exact same beer in one brewery and it’ll taste totally different in another due to the EQUIPMENT.

                                      as we know, ABguys bought blue point back in February this year. the brewery in Patchogue, NY they were/are using is a total dump. stray dogs running around and old ass equipment. they were over capacity so they had to start contract brewing at a complete shithole (high falls in Rochester, NY) and the liquid is about as consistent as the weather… once BP is able to move a bulk of its production to Bladwinsville, NY the liquid will be consistent and better QUALITY.

                                      also might want to write an article on what’s truly bad for the industry: really shitty craft brewery’s pumping out garbage. want to scare someone out of the craft game? keep letting these small batch breweries make garbage that scare people back to the oh so awful consistent liquid from A-B & MillerCoors. every time a consumer wants to risk buying a $8 pint of some wild IPA and its shitty liquid, they’re going right back to whats consistent. worst thing the beer industry can have is crappy liquid being sold out there. #1 example would be Lonerider Brewing Company. have to call someone out.

                                      rant about the ‘man’ getting the money vs. the poor small craft brewer, but not about the quality from AB.

                                      • Samurai Artist
                                        Samurai Artist
                                        Sat Nov 8, 2014 9:46 PM

                                        Or your just misinterpreting what I said because I was not talking about the “quality” per se. I am well aware that they have the most state of the art facilities and probably make the most technically efficient beer, I am talking about the substitution of premium ingredients for cheaper cost cutting stuff like corn sugar and hop extracts. Like I said in the article AB likely has some of the best brewers in the world working there but we wouldnt know their names.

                                        • Brian Yaeger
                                          Brian Yaeger
                                          Sat Nov 8, 2014 10:40 PM

                                          FYI, the issue of small breweries potentially putting out sub-par beer and scaring people away from this segment of the industry has been addressed on this blog: Look up “No No to Nanos” 🙂

                                        • Marc Martin
                                          Marc Martin
                                          Thu Nov 13, 2014 6:01 PM

                                          For those who don’t see AB, SAB and Molson/Coors as the evil empires I suggest you re-read the very accurate economist quote again several times. Have a Bud Light and go shopping at Wallmart – the largest purchaser of Chinese goods in the free world. I presently have 7 new brewery start-up projects in various stages of completion. These are from Philadelphia,Lakeland, Florida, Albuquerque and across the country to a yet to be announced one right here in Portland. Every one of these will be 15 BBL or less (not nano) and will be “neighborhood style” brewpubs. As Ezra stated, many of us feel that this will be the real future of the industry. People who are getting in the business because of their passion and not expecting to finance a Lear Jet. As for me, I’ll be supporting those. I agree Ezra, probably your best article yet !!!

                                          • charlie
                                            Sat Nov 15, 2014 5:38 PM

                                            You know what the real problem with beer scene is these days? Guys who call beer “liquid”. Five times in one post. FU.

                                            • Green Coyote
                                              Green Coyote
                                              Sun Nov 16, 2014 9:49 PM

                                              Excellent article, Ezra. Glad it was said…

                                              • Easong
                                                Fri Apr 3, 2015 1:05 AM

                                                Sad, but there are at least 5 better breweries in Bend than 10 Barrel that InBev did not get. Yet.

                                                • Glass Half Full
                                                  Glass Half Full
                                                  Fri Sep 16, 2016 12:43 AM

                                                  Typical ‘Craft Beer’ drinker, can only see as far as your prejudices will carry you.

                                                  If you can get past your sophomoric attitude that large companies are hell bent on global domination (I’ll bet you use an iPhone and Google every day) and possibly see that this is GREAT thing for the casual drinker and craft geek alike.
                                                  ABI only buys up great brewers. They quality remains at similar or higher levels and expand distribution, so those in Texas for example, can get their hands on some Elysian goodness.
                                                  They are showing absolutely no signs of slowing in their acquisition of regionally dominant craft brewers, making the definition almost pointless, and who cares? Who cares if the company is, on paper, craft or not?
                                                  This will hopefully pave the way for people to start picking beer with their pallets and not their prejudices. There’s plenty of small breweries that make terrible beer, how many large ‘craft’ brewers (especially the ones being bought up) are making terrible beer?
                                                  ABI, MC, Duval, Heineken etc buying up brewery after brewery is creating better tasting, better distributed and better priced beer. As you stated, craft drinkers these days can smell authenticity faster than diacytl, let’s see if we can’t turn that around.