Can craft beer drinkers defeat the beer monopolists?

Everybody in BeerWorld, listen up: This Bud's for you!

Everybody in BeerWorld, listen up: This Bud’s for you!

Or so we’re told by the excitable executives of Anheuser-Busch InBev. It’s the conglomerate maker of Budweiser and dozens of other brands, and it’s thrilled to be buying out SABMiller’s beer brands to create “the first truly global beer company.” Hmmm, I find that more chilling than thrilling – and sort of a silly thing to be publicizing.

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After all, even the suits at headquarters admit that the merger of the world’s two largest brewers is being driven by their own poor sales, which have gone flat as us quaffers switch to small, local, and better craft beers. The macro brands “are now in decline” reports a trade publication, because customers – especially young ones – seek more choices, richer flavors, and the cachet of trying unique brews created by independent artisans. So beer drinkers are saying “local,” but Big Beer is going “global.” Genius.

This consolidation has nothing to do with satisfying customers, however, and everything to do with amassing corporate power to browbeat distributors and retailers. With 70 percent of US sales under one roof, the Anheuser empire would have the monopoly clout to force bars, convenience stores, etc. to deny shelf space to the little guys. If you’re not on the shelf, you’re in the ditch, empowering the bully to give beer drinkers a choice between Bud… and Budweiser.

But even if our wimpy anti-trust regulators let this deal go down, I don’t think it’ll work out that way. In my travels – even to small cities like Ithaca, Des Moines, and San Mateo – there is a rebellious, savvy, and tenacious Good Beer community that will stay loyal to the diversity of local brews… and defeat the best laid plans of the monopolists. To join the rebellion, go to www.BrewersAssociation.org.

“Budweiser’s parent ups SABMiller offer,” Austin American Statesman,” October 13, 2015.

“Anheuser-Busch will acquire SABMiller,” October 14, 2015.

“Brewing Rivals To Join,” The New York Times, October

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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