Goose Island Brewery

Counterpoint: Craft Beer Isn’t Dying

Jim Koch, the founder of Boston Beer Company, warned last month that industry consolidation had put craft beer on the endangered list.

John Hall, the founder of Goose Island Brewery, begs to differ. He predicts a bright future for craft as a whole because it is so diverse, innovative, and in-sync with customers. Hall cites self-distribution (which is legal in many states), and state laws allowing breweries to serve pints, as two factors that change the equation for small breweries.

Hall also explains why Goose Island agreed to be taken over by Anheuser-Busch. One alternative was contract brewing, as Boston Beer has done for many years. Another was to take the company public; however, he didn’t like the idea of having to report every quarter to Wall Street. That left A-B.

Of the A-B deal, Hall said, “Like all big business decisions, it was risky being one of the first craft brewers to partner with a big brewer. But we preferred to partner with brewers who understood the beer business. Through our partnership with Anheuser-Busch, Goose Island was able to do what Boston Beer did, reach consumers nationwide while retaining the quality and integrity of our beer, and our brand.”

Exiles on Beer Street

Last year, the Brewers Association liberalized its criteria for what qualifies as a “craft brewery,” and welcomed Boston Beer Company, D.G. Yuengling & Son, Straub Brewing, August Schell Brewing, and Minhas Craft Brewery into the fold.

However, five well-known breweries—which aren’t called Anheuser-Busch, Miller, or Coors—still fail to qualify:

  • Craft Brew Alliance. Reason: It’s 32.2-percent owned by Anehuser-Busch InBev (the BA’s ceiling is 25 percent).
  • Pyramid Brewery/Magic Hat Brewing. “Imported adjunct beer sales exceed domestic production.”
  • 10 Barrel Brewing. Owned by A-B InBev
  • Mendocino Brewing. Owned by UB Group in Bangalore, India.
  • Goose Island Brewery. Owned by A-B InBev.
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