It’s official, Goose Island Brewing Company of Chicago, IL has been purchased by the macro-brewing mega-corporation Anheuser-Busch for 38.8m.
Although G.I. is not my favorite brewery, or even in my top 10, I would consider it a good brewery with a few solid beers such as Night Stalker and the Bourbon County series. It seems beer connoisseurs have mixed emotions over this change, ranging from the blase to the uber-angry, most of which makes some interesting arguments.
To get the facts straight, it should be mentioned that AB already owned a little less than 20% of Goose to begin with, so taking complete ownership of the brewery is not all that unexpected. One popular argument I’m seeing is that this is a good business decision for them; letting the brewery expand beyond what they are capable of themselves. Strictly from a dollars and cents perspective, that’s probably accurate, however I believe they will lose a great deal of followers inside the craft beer community. I live in a state that was recently dumped by Dogfish Head brewery, along with 3 other states, and their rationale was that they were growing too quickly; they wanted to consolidate their products to fewer areas. This would have been a great opportunity for DH to sell-out and cash in, but they didn’t. The beer, the brand and the craft beer community was too important to dilute and despite my inability to purchase their beer locally, they did the right thing.
Does this mean that Goose Island will suddenly start making terrible beer? Probably not. What I firmly believe however is that time will slowly erode the brand. Little “inefficiencies” will be “fixed” as years pass, ingredients might be swapped for cheaper alternatives and eventually we’ll see such gems as India Pale Ale with Lime! In all seriousness, maybe this is good for craft beer in general, a stepping stool from the swill Anheuser-Busch pushes on the masses, to the sweet nectar of Founders, 3 Floyds, Russian River and Bell’s. I guess only time will tell.