It’s still Monday in Tok, Alaska.
I’m not sure why I feel obliged to voice an opinion on the very good chance Inbev will successfully take control of Anheuser-Busch. Back when I was writing a monthly editorial for RBPMail it would have been a must, but now there are how many thousand beer blogs? Even though my reading time is pretty limited I’ve seen enough to know opinions abound. So I’ll keep it short.
Pete Brown makes it easier to be brief with a fine post about what Interbrew was and what Inbev is. A few years ago I wrote in a business story that small brewers could learn several lessons from Interbrew. That was before Interbrew was rolled into Inbev and Inbev jacked with Hoegaarden so capriciously, but Pete’s got a nice summary.
I understand his feelings about Anheuser-Busch if you still need an excuse to read Three Sheets to the Wind use this as one to buy the book although I don’t altogether agree. I know too many people who work at A-B who are just as passionate about beer as those Pete worked with at Interbrew.
OK, Shock Top Belgian White seems like a beer that came out of the marketing department. But in the last few years individual A-B breweries released regional beers that began as suggestions from employees. Michelob, just-another-adjunct beer, became Michelob, all-malt beer. Maybe things change in this beer world turned upside down, but A-B did announce its plans to spin off Michelob as a separate entity, and that one of its first acts would be to release Michelob Dunkel Weisse nationally. So what? Well, the dunkelweizen that was produced in Fort Collins for sale only in Colorado and only on draft was a fine beer.
All that is progress, and seems unlikely to continue if Inbev is in charge. Remember Inbev decided to shut down the Rolling Rock brewery before it then sold the brand to A-B. Apparently Rolling Rock simply could have disappeared when the brewery doors closed. This was an operation that produced more beer than any craft brewing company other than Boston Beer and Sierra Nevada.
Interbrew calling itself the “world’s local brewer” always seemed more like marketing than fact, but for the words seem worth reconsidering since we are at the beginning of our Year of Drinking Local. A week and some on Southeast Alaskan coast has vividly reminded me that the best local beers aren’t just local, but reflect the place where they are brewed. And when they do are special enough you want to seek them out far from their home. But that’s a discussion for the next post.
Back to Inbev and A-B. I wouldn’t argue either really cares about local or about place, and that’s why I can’t get fired up either way about this business deal.
But practically speaking I think there’s a better chance an independent Anheuser-Busch would brew beers we’d drink at the neighbor’s cookout than an A-B operating under orders from somewhere else.
This possible deal touches every country where consumers drink beer. Read Martyn Cornell’s post, InBev versus Bud: Am I Bovvered?, for a sense of perspective.