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Okay, that’s it – no more Mr. Nice Guy from me. The avarice of corporate power has now turned personal.
It’s about beer, the nourishing nectar of a civilized society. Since my teen years, I’ve done extensive and intensive consumer research on the brewer’s art, from the full array of ales to the most substantial of stouts. I weathered the depressing era when Budweiser, Miller, and a couple of other nationalizers of bland beer drove a diversity of livelier regional brands out of business. But then, I rejoiced in the last decade or so as a flowering of craft and micro brews has spread from city to city, creating an abundance of real gusto and local flavor from coast to coast.
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But beware, ye who love local beer – do not just sit on your duffs, doing 12-ounce elbow bends, for here come the Big Brew Bastards again, bigger and more menacing than ever. In fact, they’ve gone global, wielding their predatory marketing clout and political muscle to rule Beer World once and for all. SABMiller, now a South African conglomerate, is trying to take over Heinekin, the world’s third largest beermaker. But Anheuser-Busch, now owned by a Belgian-Brazilian monopolist called InBev, is trying to buy SAB Miller, creating a single beer behemoth that would control a third of all beer sales in the world. In our USofA, the monopolization is worse, with InBev and SABMiller effectively controlling three-fourths of our beer market. If InBev swallows SABMiller, we’re looking at higher prices, lower quality, and fewer choices.
Meanwhile, the red-white-and-blue icon of American beer – Pabst Blue Ribbon –– which dates back to 1844 and itself is a merged conglomerate that owns Colt 45, Old Milwaukee, and Schlitz – is being bought by a Russian brewer. Where is Teddy Roosevelt and his trust-busters when we really need them?
“Monopolizing Beer,” The New York Times, October 8, 2014.
“Pabst Beer Being Sold to Brewer In Russia,” The New York Times, September 19, 2014.