Today’s Wall Street Journal (sorry, the story is in the subscriber only part of the site) examines the ongoing cutbacks at InBev.
The “hook” is that InBev is closing its brewery in Hoegaarden, which has been widely reported. You wouldn’t run out and buy WSJ to learn that, but there’s more to the story:
– How has InBev responded to cultural shifts are leading increasing numbers of drinkers to wine? “We don’t think it is going to reverse,” said InBev regional director Stefan Descheemaeker. “We have nicknamed Western Europe as the ‘mother of all challenges.’ ”
One initiative has been to close about a dozen breweries. “How many breweries do we need? It’s an ongoing study. “Technically speaking, we don’t need many,” Descheemaeker said. So much for the days when Interbrew liked to bill itself as the “World’s Local Brewer.”
– The company has launched Hoegaarden Citrons, flavored with lemon and lime.
– In Hoegaarden, David Duerinckx, a worker at the brewery, says the traditional the white beer has lost its original flavor. “Twenty years ago it was more acidic,” he said. “You used to be able to compare different batches. Now it is sweeter and it is standardized. This is our tradition that is going away.”
But the last word goes to Iain Lowe, a spokesman for CAMRA (Britain’s Campaign for Real Ale, but a defender of other traditions as well):
“InBev is debasing beer. By all means, come out with new beers but don’t abandon existing ones, [simplifying] the taste so no one dislikes it but no one really likes it, either.”