BeerDorks.com: Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

 
April 4, 2011

Beer Issues:

Goose Shit

Anheuser-Busch buying Goose Island sucks for consumers and craft brewers.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
If you read the last couple of my posts here on BeerDorks.com—and you’re at least a semi-regular reader—you probably noticed a lack of vitriol that was usually quite evident in my earlier rantings, er … writings. Maybe I was feeling the warm and fuzzies with the recent successes of craft beer here in the Midwest and across the country, and I was all too happy to revel in the great brews to be had across the land. Well, consider my dander officially up.

Because of this: Anheuser-Busch to take over Goose Island

In case you’ve had your head in the sand for the last few days and you’re too lazy busy to read the story, let me sum up: A-B offered Goose Island $22.5 million for a 58 percent stake in the company. (The remaining 42 percent was owned by the Craft Brewers Alliance, in which A-B was a partial owner. The Alliance sold what was left of their stake in Goose Island for $16.3 million.) The Hall brothers, the up until now nominal owners of Goose Island, took the bag of money, turned around, and [censored].

So A-B owns Goose Island. And that sucks shit in a big way. There is nothing good about this.

Before I go any further, let’s visit the plaintive shushes and tut-tuts from the self-appointed guardians of the craft beer world and the big beer apologists. (Imagine the following being said in a high-pitched Muppet voice.)

• “But Eddie, who cares who owns the brewery as long as blah, blah, blah.”

• “But Eddie, to quote Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall: ‘People said we sold our souls in 2006 when we signed a distribution deal with A-B but look at what’s happened since then. We are still craft blah, blah, blah.’”

• “But Eddie, think of all the craft beer poor markets that will be able to get Goose Island blah, blah, mother-fucking-blah.”

We’re going to get Goose Island beers rammed down our throats.
This deal—and my vitriol over it—has absolutely nothing to do with Goose Island’s innovation and/or quality of their beers. It has to do with one thing only: distribution. The macro beer business is stagnant, and the craft beer business isn’t just booming, it’s going through the fucking roof. More and more consumers are seeking out craft beer, and more and more restaurants and bars and retail shops are asking their distributors to bring more and more craft beer. And A-B, which for all intents and purposes—if not in fact—owns the distributors that handle its products, didn’t have a craft beer to sell, unlike Miller, with its faux craft labels like Blue Moon and Leinenkugel’s. So the distributors had to carry other companies’ beers, which probably made the shitbags in suits down in St. Louis madder than I am right now.

And it’s no surprise that Goose Island was the perfect craft brewery to acquire. First, the powers that be at Goose Island already had gladly bent over and partially spread ’em for A-B and their Craft Brewers Alliance deal a few years ago, so it would stand to reason they’d open ’em up all the way for some more cash. Secondly, the three tier system is thoroughly entrenched in crooked Illinois, and A-B uses that to full effect. Lastly, the Chicago beer market is the biggest in the nation. And if you haven’t noticed, there are craft brewers cropping up all over the city: Half Acre, Metropolitan, Haymarket, and Revolution, just to name a few, and it’s one of the main markets for more than a few established craft breweries you just may have heard of, like Three Floyds and Bell’s. So A-B had to make a move like this, or they’d watch their control of the crown jewel of the U.S. beer market slowly get drained away from them by a bunch of what they think of as upstart nobodies.

The world needs to know how shitty a beer 312 Urban Wheat is.
Here’s why that pisses me so fucking off: we’re going to get Goose Island beers rammed down our throats. Hey, who cares as long as their beer is great, right? Ask that to small craft brewers who have to fight tooth and nail for a single tap handle or a tiny space in a liquor store’s beer cooler. Ask that to yourself when bars replace your favorite pale ale with Honkers Ale, a small craft brewery’s quirky IPA with Goose Island IPA, that sublime, locally brewed Bavarian-style wheat with 312 Urban Wheat.



(Sorry about the pause there. I just threw up a little in my mouth.)

So that’s it. We tried to smile and pretend Goose Island wasn’t evil since their little deal with A-B back in ’06, but this tears it. My Goose Island t-shirt is now an oops-I-missed-the-toilet mop. All reviews of Goose Island beers have been removed from the site (except 312 Urban Wheat, because the world needs to know how shitty that beer is). And we’ll no longer be pretending Goose Island isn’t anything other than it is: a glorified marketing ploy to screw consumers and craft brewers out of their hard-earned money.

Fuck Goose Island, fuck A-B, and fuck this deal right in the ass.

Is that vitriolic enough for you?





Comments
I love this article! Spot on with the Goose Shit............ I for one have stopped buying Goose Island products and have redirected my money towards more local options. So long GI BCS, it was fun while it lasted!
posted by Leszczynski23 | April 4, 2011, 9:37 AM
Right on, Eddie! Like RedHook & Widmer before them, the Goose is cooked as for their craft reputation. Unfortunately, as you so eloquently note, the distribution problem is the real issue here. The FACT is that many small brewers CANNOT get a fair shake in many markets, not just Chicago - where "pay to play" is basically the law of the land. It's expensive, time consuming and difficult to "build" an unknown brand and most distributors just aren't up to the task, particularly when a big player's product is so easy to put on tap as the token "craft" beer for the prime real estate tap handles. Little guys often have no place to turn, and in many states, are not allowed to self distribute.
posted by Rings | April 4, 2011, 9:11 PM
Honestly, I was never a fan of Goose Island in the first place. They always seemed like a "poser" to me.
posted by Jug | April 4, 2011, 10:53 PM

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