Big Beer's diabolical plan is to limit craft beer's distribution options so that we're all stuck shame-sipping BudCoorsLightUltra.
Imagine, for a moment, a future limited solely to shitty beer options. No more small-batch craft seasonals. Goodbye, Hazed & Infused Dry-Hopped Ale! So long, Cutthroat Porter! Picture yourself sitting around a sad campfire with friends, sippin’ Bud Heavies, or even worse, Lime-a-Ritas, the audible forced gulps of Coors echoing as we remember the crafty delicious suds of yesterbeer. A grisly scene, no doubt.
That’s the dystopian vision Big Beer has in mind for us as they make moves to crush craft brewing via a history-making merger between two of the largest brewers on earth.
Beer giant AB InBev, is in talks to purchase the second largest beer company, SABMiller Plc for more than $100 billion in what would be the largest brew merger to date. In the past few months alone, the world's largest brewer, InBev, has rattled the craft beer industry by forging deals with five distributors in three states, according to Reuters. The recent acquisition of two distributors in Colorado could leave the thirsty state with fewer craft choices.
Ranking third nationally in breweries per capita, the people of Colorado love their craft brews. A potential merger between these beer giants could neuter the ability of many small time players to distribute their products.
“Industry professionals [are] worried the aggressive growth will leave more than 200 Colorado craft brewers with fewer options for selling their beer,” according to the Coloradoan “the result could be less craft beer on the shelves.”
Some craft brewers are claiming that AB InBev strong-arms many independent distributors to solely carry and supply the company's products as well as stipulating a quick end to any previous ties with the craft industry.
As an example of what happens when Big Beer swoops in for the kill, there’s the case set forth by Ninkasi Brewing in Oregon. Ninkasi CEO, Nikos Ridge, told Reuters when two of his “distributors were bought by AB InBev in 2011 and 2012, he saw what had been healthy sales growth quickly stall” until the company could find alternative distributors for its products.
AB InBev's purchase and subsequent takeover of numerous craft beer breweries as of late gives the company even greater leverage over a shrinking market, offering unchallenged varieties and styles. After these corporate buyouts, larger companies are no longer competing in a free market while smaller breweries scramble for basic distribution.
With smaller craft breweries taking up more and more of the market share in the past few years, it’s not surprising to see Big Beer move in to stop the bleeding. While beer sales, as a whole, rose 0.5 percent in 2014, craft beer sales rose by 17.6 percent to capture 11 percent of the U.S. market, according to Reuters.
But, there are some potential legal outs to this Beermageddon. Andy Gavil, who formerly worked with the Federal Trade Commission, told Reuters, believes “the problem could be resolved by scrapping a requirement for alcoholic beverages to go through liquor distributors in most U.S. states. That would allow the craft brewers to go directly to the supermarkets, liquor stores and bars.”
But, until we put those vital laws in place … we’re just gonna be over here stockpiling Lagunitas IPA in our underground missile silo to prepare for the day when Big Beer replaces our shower water with Michelob Ultra. More importantly, let’s not forget that anyone can brew their own “craft beer” in their bathtub using nothing more than some fancy tubes, some hops lifted from your cousin’s secret stash, and some beard yeast. Budweiser can’t touch that heady brew.