2017 has shown that 'Big Beer' would like nothing more than to get its corporate hands on an ever growing piece of the fermented pie that is craft beer. What with Heineken purchasing the rest of Lagunitus, Wicked Weed ceding control to ABinbev, and even brewers like Founders being part owned by Inbev also it's becoming harder to tell what is and what isn't independent craft beer and that’s exactly what the global corps want.
Here in the UK we have also had a couple of big well known takeovers, Meantime and Camden, these two big London brewers sold for vast amounts, and their beer has subsequently been widely noted to have declined in quality. I did note whilst in a national pub chain that happens to do a good cheap breakfast that the Meantime bottles of old, thin and slender working down to a wide stout base have changed to a standard bottle, undoubtedly a cost cutting measure. All of a brands charm disappears in the blink of an eye when corporate attitudes of cost cutting over quality and individuality take over.
So it doesn't make any sense, right? The obvious business plan for such a buyout would go something like this:
1. Big brewery purchases smaller craft producer
2. Brewery allowed to continue brewing high quality beer whilst taking advantage of corporate giant's marketing and distribution network
3. Quality does not decline, sales increase, brand gets better recognition.
That’s probably how its is sold to the independents who sell up or sell out, but of course it can't work like that. Before long the accountants start brewing and it all goes to pot. The charm and quality of independent breweries is one of the reason that we love beer.
Quality is one thing but knowing that the beer you're drinking was made by people who care about beer as much as they do their bank balance is a brilliant feeling. Drinking independently produced beer in an independently owned bar, there's nothing better than that.
So hopefully we’ll see you soon.