15 Jun Fighting for Craft Beer in an AB/InBev world
I love craft beer and I love the craft beer community. In less than a year since starting my @hopthirst Instagram account, I’ve met tons of great people online and in person, visited dozens of breweries and bars in the U.S. and abroad, and definitely drank (more than) my fair share of incredible craft beer.
While craft beer is growing, it’s also under continuous attack from massive organizations like AB/InBev (Budweiser), Miller/Coors, and others who not only spend millions of dollars to control their market share and suppress local breweries through marketing and lobbying efforts, but seek to acquire as many Craft Beweries as possible to expand their reach. The recent acquisition of North Carolina’s Wicked Weed Brewing sent shockwaves through the craft beer community, with some former collaborators being disappointed but wishing them well, while others posted images of drain-pouring their collaboration beers. Meanwhile others are pointing out that highly sought-after hops from specific regions are being hoarded by AB InBev in a way that affects craft breweries significantly and negatively. To add to that, AB InBev is making inroads in the craft beer rating market as well, recently purchasing a stake in Ratebeer.com. If you don’t find that troubling, the folks over at Dogfish Head have spelled out how problematic it is for Budweiser to have part ownership of a site purported to be made up of 100% user-generated content and provide objective, community-based reviews of beer.
If you’ve ever seen Star Wars, think of these former craft breweries that are now owned by AB InBev like little Lando Calrission clones. You have history with them, they seem to be your friend, but in the end, they’re imposters working for the Empire and they’re going to stab craft breweries in the back at the first chance they get (and say they had no other choice). Cut them off.
Breweries now under Big Beer ownership are happy to still act like craft breweries, only they have the Big Beer machine backing them. I’m active in the Instagram craft beer community, and sometimes breweries reach out to me and send samples. This post and the image to go along with it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t gotten some samples from Blue Point Brewing, who I believed to be a craft brewery when they contacted me. I realized later, when I looked up the brewery to write a post about them, that they’d been bought out by AB InBev in 2014, so I couldn’t in good conscience post their beer on my page as though they were just another part of the craft beer community. They aren’t. Independence matters. So, I created the image above instead.
As much as possible, I support local beer and local breweries. I also support other breweries that work within their communities as a small business to support the local economy and local community because hey, I live in Virginia but I love trying beers from California, Massachussetts, Florida, and everywhere across the country.
I’m an educator, artist, and craft beer nerd. Raising awareness of and fighting against the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing tactics big beer is taking in order to further its assault on local craft beer and small businesses will be essential going forward. Cheers to good beer, good people, and a craft beer community that will continue to thrive in the face of adversity. #fightforcraft #pouritback
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