Thursday, April 14, 2011

Old news item: Goose Island completely annexed, entirely absorbed by AB-Inbev.

Is the craft beer world coming to an end?

No, it isn’t. Actually, it’s starting to make a bit more sense. Like theories of tectonic plates and continental drift, the beer categories are slowly separating by money, just as the capitalist system insists they should.

Most of us will concede that we’re for sale. We may be more or less interested in negotiating a price, but we’re still for sale. It is neither a moral nor ethical discussion. It’s just reality. Having acknowledged it, you may breathe a sigh of relief, because few of us are sufficiently valuable to attract the big bucks.

Value is a very funny thing, indeed. As the stories began circulating about the $38 million Goose Island deal, our local newspapers were reporting about a proposed real estate development on New Albany’s riverfront totaling investments of $43 million.

While most of Craft Beer Nation rushed to the ramparts to defend Goose Island’s honor before even knowing the dimensions of the story, I was thinking: Wow, even factoring in the previous investment shares in distribution … $38 million for 127,000 barrels, compared to $43 million for a parking garage, plaza, condos and commercial space … geez; what does it all mean, anyway?

Should I have gone into real estate instead?

Look, this isn’t Einstein. Goose Island’s owners sold out – note I’m not saying they’re “sell-outs”, which means something else in popular culture terms, but isn’t appropriate here. They sold business interests in a somewhat open market, and in doing so, they became transformed from an entity that interests me to one that no longer does. It is nothing personal. It is nothing at all. It just is what it is, which is true.

What does it mean to craft beer? Very little in the larger sense, because there are several hundred of us prepared to fill the gap and keep the flag in the sir.

However, it must be conceded that AB-Inbev surely intends to use this erstwhile craft toy to aggressively combat the interests of craft beer in the venues where its money buys space on the top shelf, whether by hoarding shelf space in supermarkets or engaging in the usual concessionaire’s extortion in closed settings like airports and stadiums.

This means that we’ll have a better beer choice, somewhere, in the form of ex-craft, its placement achieved by business as usual, which we generally loathe – and rightly so.

Will you still drink Goose Island, now that the money flies to a board room somewhere overseas? That’s your decision.

If it’s the only choice before the jet way rolls back, will I swallow hard and fork over ten bucks for 16 ounces of Honkers?

Honestly, I don’t know.

Has something died?

Yes. Then again, death is a necessary part of life.

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