It’s raged on for decades: the debate over whether it matters where a beer is brewed. During the 1970s, Anheuser-Busch filed a complaint with the government, accusing Miller Brewing company of not disclosing that Lowenbrau was brewed in Texas. Years later, Boston Beer Company ran into a storm of criticism after it contract-brewed Samuel Adams.
The latest round in the debate nvolves several famous imports that are now brewed in the United States. Fosters,”Australian for beer,” is made in Texas; Red Stripe, “The Taste of Jamaica,” comes from La Crosse, Wisconsin; and Beck’s, whose label says “Bremen, Germany,” will soon be brewed in St. Louis. Why has production been moved to here? Several reasons: shipping costs are lower, brewers are less exposed to a falling dollar, and there’s excess brewing capacity in the States.
But not everyone is jumping on the made-in-America trend. Heineken is readying an ad campaign that stresses its Amsterdam origin, and the brewers of brands such as Corona and Modelo Especial believe that Hispanics prefer beer that is brewed in Mexico.
Earlier today, a story in MarketWatch.com raised the possibility that SABMiller will acquire Carlton & United, the brewers of Foster’s beer. News of the possible acquisition first appeared in the Times of London, which reported that SAB is prepared to spend as much as $10.9 billion to buy the Australian brewer. While the transaction isn’t small beer, it still pales by comparison to the $52 billion InBev paid to acquire Anheuser-Busch.