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The most disruptive brewery in America?

I didn’t take long for me to abandon my plan for posts specifically related to “beer from a place” — whatever that means — each Wednesday.

Instead, a link and something for you to think about.

At the conclusion of a thoughtful post about how Goose Island Beer Co. has and has not changed since AB InBev bought the brewery in 2011 Jeff Alworth suggests, “But the truth is that the most disruptive brewery in America right now is Goose Island.”

Whoa! That’s a Truth with a capital T if it is The Truth.

Got me shaking my head.


Upon further review, the beers he is writing about do come from a specific place — the Fulton Street brewery — do reflect that place, and are the result of what I am choosing to call post-industrial brewing.

11 Responses to The most disruptive brewery in America?

  1. Alan January 8, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    How do they reflect that place? By this I take it you mean the place if the brewery were not there. Otherwise it would be circular… and you know where we’d all end up then.

    • Stan Hieronymus January 9, 2014 at 4:53 am #

      Not sure I understand the whole question – in other words, the sentences after the question mark. But I don’t mean the chunk of land or the warehouse that would be there if there were no brewery. Not in the sense the French use the word terroir (related to landscape and used for more than wine).

      • Matt January 17, 2014 at 10:00 am #

        Late to the party but I had the same question as Alan. If I understand your answer, “place” is not equivalent (perhaps even unrelated) to physical location.

        Is Dale’s Pale Ale (Colorado) from a place?
        Is Dale’s Pale Ale (Carolina) from a place?
        Are Victory Lager and Hopduvel both from the same place?

        • Stan Hieronymus January 17, 2014 at 10:53 am #

          Matt – Physical location may matter, but it’s not the only factor. It think it is fair to ask what it means that Sierra Nevada is focused on flavor matching the brands it brews in both California and North Carolina. Does SNPA “taste of Chico”? That it does to some is enough, to me, to argue place matters. But not to everybody.

          Jump five years down the road. When people in the Carolinas have been drinking SNPA brewed in Asheville for some time. For some it will be the “taste of Asheville.” Even if it tastes exactly like SNPA from Chico. I think these things can happen, but I’m struggling to make sense of them in a larger construct.

          Perhaps I should quit rambling about such things until completing more construction. Meanwhile, I decent summary of where I was in 2011: from an article in DRAFT magazine a couple-three years ago.

          • Matt January 17, 2014 at 11:57 am #

            Thanks for the link Stan. I think there is a lot to Calagione’s comment that “Breweries have terroir as well. But instead of revolving around a patch of land, ours are centered on a group of people.”

            If SN can put a brewery in a new area and then see SNPA become the “taste of” that area, then I think the notion of “beer from a place” loses meaning compared to “beer from a brewery” or maybe “beer from a person.” It remains a real social construct, but I’m not sure how much meaning it conveys.

  2. Jeff Alworth January 9, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    Goose Island’s beer is definitely *American*–and America is a place. Soured, barrel-aged beers like Goose Island’s taste like none I’ve had in any other country. The beers in question name check Belgium, but you couldn’t mistake them for something from Brussels or Roselare.

  3. Peter January 9, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    Wouldn’t a brewery like Stone be considered more disruptive?

    • Gary Gillman January 9, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

      I had the Lolita last week and thought it was a dead ringer for a gueuze. One of our party, someone who rarely drinks beer, said, it’s like the sour beers when I was in Belgium. I haven’t had the other three, so I can’t say for them (Sofie, etc.). Clearly, a brewery under large corporate ownership can make characterful beer. In that sense, it is disruptive, since to date big brewers tend to stay pretty safe with crafty forays – Blue Moon is decent but there aren’t many craft ales a la Stone, say, from big brewers. GI fills that space and may bode for the future.


    • SteveH January 10, 2014 at 6:43 am #

      When Stone is bought by A-B it may become as “disruptive” to the geek community. Right now they are heroes and Goose Island is the sell-out.

      • The Professor January 12, 2014 at 10:01 am #


        If Goose Island continues to make good beer, their buyout does not make them a sellout.

        People complained for years that the big brewers were turning out bland generic beer (and even that was not universally true). Now that the big brewers are responding by turning out a few beers that rival what any small brewer is doing or, as is the case here, acquiring a particularly good small brewer to expand their output and give them wider distribution…that still makes them the ‘bad guys’?
        I call B.S.

        I think that hardcore beer geeks sometimes are more interested in snob appeal than quality and objectivity.

        • SteveH January 13, 2014 at 6:57 am #

          Couldn’t agree more with everything you say, I was just reporting what I’ve heard from the nouveau beer geeks.

          I won’t even get into their rants on A-B “business practices.”

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