Was is just yesterday that I lamented the fact that the beer world needed controversy to make the Five Articles more interesting. Be careful what you wish for.
So, we start off with two columns about how big beer and craft beer at war. A war that craft beer is losing because big beer companies have more money. Or they are fighting the good and noble fight with whatever means they have at their disposal. Or something or other, I’ve stopped listening.
Craft beer is not a marketing gimmick. Craft beer isn’t some Quixote quest. Craft beer is about good beer served fresh. The threat big beer companies pose isn’t making craft breweries sell out. No matter what your local brewer may tell you, everyone has their price. It’s just that some people’s price is really high. The biggest threat big beer companies pose is turning beer into a simple commodity akin to widgets.
It isn’t that ABInbev bought Goose Island and put it under its umbrella. It’s that they have increased the distribution of Goose Island by ramping up production and putting it in every grocery store they can find. Everyone should have access to great beer, but that great beer needs to be sold in places where they care about the beer and don’t treat it like a bag of dog food.
So, yes, big beer buying craft brewer bothers me because I don’t want the beer to get worse, not because I have an attachment to being part of some small cadre of people who know the “truth” about good beer. I went through the indie/alternative music wars of the 90s and watched as the music I liked became commodified into some unrecognizable pop music pushed out off of an assembly line by interchangeable bands. That is what I don’t want beer to become. Interchangeable IPAs produced on an assembly line with the only difference being what the can looks like.