Today, as I catch up to the world of beer news from my month away, I read this article about the continuing fight between North Carolina craft brewers, the large distributors, and the state legislature.
Apparently, and to no one’s shock, AB used to put language in their franchise agreements stating that the distributor agrees to push AB products above all else. Now, the article rightly points out that this type of agreement is illegal under new laws and a consent agreement between ABInbev and the department of justice.
However, as we all know there is the law as it is written, there is the law as it is enforced, and there is the law as it is practiced. Everyone in the beer world knows that while not requiring distributors to sell their products above all else, AB incentivises them with money if they hit certain levels of distribution.
Even if one believes that the franchise law changes and the consent agreement make these type of actions illegal, they signal a clear mindset that pervades AB and it distributors. That is the zero-sum win at all costs mindset. It is becoming increasingly clear that AB is not interested in a robust beer industry. It is interested in controlling the beer industry for its own profit.
ABInbev and other big beer companies are a Leviathan whose main concern is feeding itself and growing ever larger. Not through malice, but through its hardwired survival instinct, this beast devours all in its path.
How do you deal with such a beast? The same way you eat an elephant. One bite at a time. It starts with beer drinkers making decisions every day with every purchase. However, it goes beyond that. It means individuals have to press their elected representatives to not allow large companies to trample and devour smaller companies for the sake of convenience and profit.
If you are a craft beer fan who lives in North Carolina and your state representative or senator has aligned himself against craft brewers and with the large distributors and big beer, you must let your unhappiness be known. It is only through direct local action, that the world can change and Leviathan be defeated.