How the World’s Biggest Brewer Killed the Craft Beer Buzz

Is the party over for indie suds?

Photo: Stephen Chemin/Getty

From pastime to revolution

There was a culture war then raging against the machine, and drinkers took up craft beer as a battle flag.

Stage 1: Co-opt key partisans

From coast to coast, the company could compete directly with craft brewers on all the things that had brought drinkers to those breweries in the first place.

Stage 2: Supercharge production

Even for large independent brewers, lining up additional capacity or introducing a new package can be fraught with logistical hurdles. For ABI, it’s business as usual.

From top left, clockwise: Meg Gill, co-founder and president of Golden Road Brewing; a brewer sets up a brite tank to clean at Golden Road Brewery in Glendale, California; John Dunne, a brewer, checks a 329 Lager beer at Golden Road Brewing; a Hangar 24 mixed with GRB Valentin (Photos: Gary Friedman and Gina Ferrazzi/LA Times via Getty)

Stage 3: Win the propaganda war

From top, left to right: The Flaming Lips performs onstage at OctFest 2018 (Taylor Hill/Getty); Camden beer is served; GrowlerWerks was one of the craft beers available at OctFest; a festivalgoer attending OctFest holds up beer in an ‘October’ branded glass (Mike Pont/Getty)

This “shut up and drink your beer” attitude is even trickling down to some of ABI’s craft holdings as well.

Life after the revolution

To figure out whether ABI is for real about craft beer, keep an eye on Goose Island.

Goose Island’s India Pale Ale is pictured with Budweiser. Chicago-based Fulton Street Brewery LLC, the maker of Goose Island beers, was acquired by Anheuser-Busch in 2011. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty

2x James Beard award-winning freelance journalist | email at dave [at] dinfontay [dot] com

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